13 Ways to Spot an American Anywhere in the World? I Must Not Be a Typical American Tourist…

lthough I will admit that there are times where it is easy to spot an American tourist in the crowd while traveling, I found that I generally do not fit the stereotype of the 13 ways to spot an American anywhere in the world, according to this article written by Leah Ginsberg of Yahoo! Travel.

Without further ado, the subheads were written by Leah Ginsburg; but the commentary is mine:

1. We’re the only ones wearing white athletic socks.

Well, I will admit to this one right off the bat — but although I do also wear dark socks, the only reason why I wear white athletic crew socks is because they are comfortable yet inexpensive. They are also a good indicator as to just how clean or dirty is the floor in a hotel room; and once they touch that floor, they do not go back into my shoes or sneakers until they are washed clean. Sock it to me, you hosiery hoser.

2. We have superwhite, supernice teeth.

We do?!? I do not recall knowing anyone with “superwhite, supernice teeth.” Then again, I do not recall the last time I said to someone “Dang! Your teeth are so white that you can substitute for the bulb in that lighthouse at night!”

There is the following BuzzFeed! video on whitening your teeth yourself versus having a professional do it if you are so inclined:

3. We’re shocked by all the naked breasts.

I always wanted to know why it was acceptable for men — but not acceptable for women — to bare their chests. There are some men whose breasts are abhorrently larger than those of some women. Frankly, seeing the nipples of a man is a real turn-off for me — about as appetizing as seeing the oversized chafed feet of a man spill out of their sandals while seated aboard an airplane. Blech…

…and why the heck do men have nipples, anyway? Is that to be prepared for if the day comes when men can be pregnant, bearing children instead of baring breasts?!?

4. We don’t care about the soccer match.

Actually, I do not particularly care about any sporting match. Sure, I have been known to watch baseball and football games. I remember when the New York Giants — who have not played in New York in many years, but I digress — beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2008 and again in 2012. After the game in 2012, I cheered for a second as I am originally from New York; and then I said to myself, “Now what?” What benefit was it to me that the New York Giants — or any team, for that matter — won the Super Bowl?

That is one reason why I have a fledgling acting career on the side: because I would rather do the acting than watch someone else get paid millions of dollars to act in some bad feature film — just like how I would rather experience for myself the wonders of traveling around the world rather than watch the experiences of someone else on the Travel Channel.

5. We say ethnocentric things like: “What’s that in normal degrees [a.k.a., Fahrenheit]?”

Only five countries in the world use Fahrenheit: United States, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, and Palau. That statistic is actually a good answer to a trivia question. It really is not difficult to realize that zero degrees Celsius is the point when water freezes; and that 100 degrees Celsius will occur in Antarctica before human men can naturally become pregnant and bear children.

By the way, I also know that 88 kilometers roughly equals 55 miles. What is so difficult about the Metric system, anyway?!?

6. We clap at everything.

Really? Well, then — I hope that all of the Americans reading this article are clapping. Thank you for the rousing applause!

As for me, I never understood people clapping when an airplane touches down onto the runway at the conclusion of the flight. Is that kudos for the pilots? Are they thrilled to have survived? Were they watching something on their portable electronic devices when they should not have been turned on? Is it a way to revive the circulation in their hands after a 16-hour flight?

7. We’re obsessed with Purell.

As often as I espouse how important it is to properly wash your hands, I never carry hand sanitizer with me — ever — and yet I rarely get sick. How about that?

8. We ask for tap water.

When I am in New York City, I want tap water. In my opinion, it is the absolute best drinking water in the whole entire universe — ever. Bottled water is blasphemous and sacrilegious for me in New York City; yet it is fine for me just about everywhere else — but for reasons of taste, not for fear of what is in the water — and I rarely purchase bottled water. If I do, what I do is purchase one bottle, along with a jug. I will keep the plastic jug of water in the hotel room and refill the bottle as necessary. This is quite economical.

When I was a college student, I was in Paris for a month studying photography — hey, what better way to spend an month in Paris than to take pictures and earn college credit for it? — when I was on the Island of La Grande Jatte on a Sunday afternoon and was thirsty. I asked a woman for a bottle of water; and she happily obliged with a bottle of cold Perrier. I do not like sparkling water. I drank it anyway not only because I was quite thirsty; but I also did not want to seem ungrateful. Actually, I was appreciative.

I wonder if Georges Seurat ever had that problem — but that is not the pointillist of this discussion…

9. We’re the ones sporting all The North Face jackets.

No offense to the company which manufactures them, but I have never worn a North Face jacket in my entire life — not even once — nor have I ever worn a South Face jacket; an East Arm jacket; or a West Butt jacket.

Some people might tend to think that a strait jacket would be more befitting for me…

Ric Garrido. Ric, I am not sure as to who should receive credit for this photograph...
Ric Garrido. Ric, I am not sure as to who should receive credit for this photograph…

10. We eat while walking.

Not me. I do not particularly enjoy eating alone in public; and if I am going to eat something, I prefer to sit down — even if I am eating a melted chocolate bar as I sit on crumbling concrete while looking out over Manila Bay, sporting a pose similar to this one of Ric Garrido of Loyalty Traveler, shown on the right. Happy birthday to you, Ric.

Perhaps I should have instead had vanilla to go with Manila for a thrilla of a restful moment; but I will keep that at bay…

11. We talk to strangers.

I never talk to stranglers. They can be dangerous, and —

…oh — strangers, not stranglers. I put my neck out on that one. Never mind.

Anyway, I am rather introverted — even when personality instruments claim otherwise; and they are correct to a degree — so talking to strangers is not something I particularly enjoy doing. As I wrote in this article which I posted last week, I am one of those people who usually does not like to be disturbed by fellow passengers.

12. We tip.

I will tip when I darn well feel like it. Enough said.

13. We speak English. Only. And we expect everyone else to, as well.

This calls for a particular Stupid Tip of the Day where I discuss the importance of learning another language — even if you do not have the time to do so; and even if it is only one simple word. There is nothing like seeing the unexpected delight shown on the face of a person native to that country when they see that you have taken the time and effort to learn their language — even if it is only one word — and an added benefit to repeatedly using a particular word or phrase in another language is that the person to whom you are speaking will usually respond in that language back to you.


As I said, I will admit that there are times where it is easy to spot an American tourist in the crowd while traveling. The United States is unique in that it encompasses many different climates and regions, which can cause some people to ask why they should travel outside of the country when there is so much to see without leaving it; and is arguably the most autonomous country in the world in terms of factors such as natural resources, corporate business and entertainment…

…not to mention that it only physically borders two countries: Canada and Mexico. I am not counting countries separated from the United States by a body of water — such as the Bahamas, Russia, Cuba and France as examples. Unlike in Europe — where it is quite easy to visit many different countries with many different cultures and governments — the United States is somewhat isolated in terms of geography. There is still no need to learn a language other than English; although Spanish has been gaining momentum.

Regardless, it is all a matter of respect. When in Rome, do as the Romans do — for you might just learn something…

…and I do whenever I travel.

I suppose that — once again — I am just not your typical American tourist

  1. First off…. acting on the side? Like what??? DO TELL! Do you have a SAG card?

    ALL embryo’s develop nipples before they differentiate into one gender or another….so basically we all develop nipples in case we end up being female….

    Most of these are pretty spot on….especially the talking to strangers and the straight/white teeth points!

    My relative is a dentist in the UK so he notices teeth and when he came to visit he asked me why everyone here seems to have abnormally straight teeth…. Think about it….when you travel overseas how often do you see children (UK, France, Japan, etc) wearing braces? Here it seems like almost every child (above a certain economic level) has braces at one point or another….

  2. Usually I wear either white (athletic) or dark socks.
    Also, one of my jackets is a North Face one.
    I tip when I feel like it. How much? Depends on if I am in the US or in my home country, Germany.
    Oh, right, I am a German from Germany.
    Another point that is not in the list: I love to have lots of ice in my water or diet soda.
    Some people call me an American … but my thick German accent when speaking English (or trying to speak English) cannot hide the truth 😉

  3. Q: What do you call someone who speaks three languages? A: Trilingual

    Q: What do you call someone who speaks two languages? A: Bilingual

    Q: What do you call someone who speaks one language? A: American

  4. My friends abroad usually mention some other ways to spot an American:

    1) they’re usually wearing shorts and flip-flops everywhere…
    2) are the loudest people in any crowd…
    3) if you see someone who is obviously under the age of 25 and completely drunk it’s most likely an American…
    4) at any sign of trouble/inconvenience they’re the ones yelling “You can’t do that to me, I’M AN AMERICAN!!”

    I honestly do not agree with any of those but for whatever reason that’s part of the image we have abroad, particularly among Europeans.

    1. I have never worn “flip flops” or sandals, Bill.

      I also rarely wear shorts. I prefer wearing jeans — even on the hottest days…

  5. @Ralfinho – The ice thing is SO TRUE too….I never really noticed it until I started traveling and NOT getting a lot of ice in my drinks. I also realized I like my drinks better when they aren’t mainly ice with just a little liquid!

    1. I have been accused of being European when fellow Americans wonder why I order my soft drinks with no ice, which I have done all of my life.

      The reason behind that for me is because the soft drink is usually cold enough for me; and I do not like the way ice waters down a drink when I am halfway finished with it.

      Besides, ice is a great way to dilute the drink — something which I do not like…

  6. 50000 bonus points to you for saying NYC has the best tap water in the Universe. I am a New Yorker and I say this often. (I still prefer bottled, though.)

  7. I can’t stand that everyone wears North Face. Why do they all want to be the same? I almost followed my daughter out of a store last night until I noticed it wasn’t actually her…

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