Non-Americans Share the Ways They Can Spot American Tourists Traveling Abroad

By: Emma Roberts | Last updated: Nov 18, 2023

From their love of corndogs to their obsession with CrossFit, it’s no secret that Americans have some unique tastes and habits. Of course, when they’re at home in the US of A, all their cultural quirks and patriotic pastimes seem perfectly normal. It’s when they’re traveling abroad that they truly stand out from the crowd.

Redditor u/Xark_Oasis asked, and fellow Redditors responded with the most common ways to recognize an American tourist from a mile away. Prepare to laugh at these hilarious responses.

Celebrating the Wonders of the Past 

Americans often find themselves awestruck when faced with artifacts and relics that are more than two centuries old. It’s as if their minds can hardly comprehend the fact that something has survived and endured for such a long time. 


Perhaps that is due to the fact that in the United States few structures have been around for more than a couple hundred years. In a world filled with technological advancements and modern marvels, it’s sweet to see US citizens so dazzled by the wonders of the past.


No Volume Control

Have you ever enjoyed the gentle ambiance of a museum? The place can be thoroughly crowded, but all you hear are a few faint murmurs as people gaze at the ancient artifacts and treasures. Unfortunately, many Redditors reported that American tourists don’t seem to be able to read the room on such occasions. 


Instead of quietly absorbing hidden stories of the past, many Americans feel the need to loudly narrate their inner monologue as they stroll by the exhibits. They’re disarmingly cheerful, but have they not heard of volume control? 

Always Representing Their Alma Mater 

College is a time of growth, learning, and memories. For many, it inspires great pride in the institution that made it all possible. Perhaps that’s why we so often see Americans wearing college t-shirts, sweaters, and caps long after graduation. 


It’s a way for them to show their school spirit and express their loyalty to the place that has given them so much. However, to the outside world, it seems like Americans are a little too obsessed with their college days. 

The American Urge to Tip

Do you know that Americans try to tip everyone, even in countries where tipping isn’t a thing? As good-natured as this gesture is, there’s a problem – tipping can be seen as insulting in some cultures.


Tipping is a unique social norm that varies from place to place. In some countries, it demonstrates respect and kindness, while in others, it’s viewed as an insult. So, if you don’t want to be instantly pegged as an American tourist, check out the tipping etiquette before you head to another country!

Bathrooms and Restrooms and Washrooms – Oh My!

Americans are a polite bunch, so when they want to use a public toilet while traveling abroad, they often ask for the nearest bathroom, restroom, or washroom. These words distance them from what they plan to do in the toilet, thus sanitizing the request. However, it’s hilariously confusing to non-Americans.  

Here’s the consensus from non-Americans: Do you want to take a shower, lie down, or powder your nose? If so, go ahead and ask for a bathroom, restroom, or powder room. If not, you should feel perfectly comfortable simply asking where the toilet is! 


Obedience vs. Freedom

Americans love to remind the rest of the world that they are the “land of the free and home of the brave.” This is perhaps why so many travelers are amused to see Americans obediently removing their shoes at airport security, even when there are signs clearly stating that you don’t have to do so. 

Some habits are hard to break, and for Americans, this one is a doozy. However, it leaves the rest of the world confused about why they’re so keen to have their socks searched. 


Assuming Everyone Knows Every Inch of America 

When Americans meet someone new, they rarely just say they’re from the US. Instead, they often proudly proclaim the state or city they call home. While this makes sense if you’re from somewhere famous like New York or San Francisco, it can leave people confused if they’ve never heard of the town mentioned. 

Whether it’s the culture, the climate, or the history, Americans are fiercely loyal to their home states and cities and proudly declare it when introducing themselves. Celebrating regional pride is lovely, but when meeting fellow travelers, it’s best to start with information they’ll definitely know!


Americans Are Friendly to a Fault

Okay, no one’s going to criticize Americans for being friendly – it’s a wonderful trait that many people admire. However, in some countries, people find it odd that Americans ask so many personal questions of baristas, restaurant servers, and retail workers. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean American travelers should stop! Though their friendliness may be surprising to some, it’s one of the more endearing qualities that make people smile when they think of American tourists. 


Talking to Strangers

Americans are well-known for their confident and daring attitude when it comes to having conversations with strangers. Whether it’s in their home country or abroad, they are not scared to ask anyone on the street about anything. 

Source: Flickr

One Redditor spoke about watching, wide-eyed, as Americans approached complete strangers in his country and started conversations he would never even think of initiating. Their fearlessness is remarkable, but we wonder if it’s gotten any Americans in trouble!


The Infectious Cheerfulness of American Travelers 

Have you ever felt the contagious energy of American tourists when traveling? They always seem to be in a jovial mood, with beaming smiles and radiating positivity. Tourists from other places, on the other hand, appear more neutral or even unhappy. 

This stark contrast showcases the infectious joy that Americans possess when they’re out exploring the world. Their cheerfulness may make them loud and boisterous, but it’s nice to see Americans having such a good time on their travels. 


Why Are Americans Obsessed with Ice?

It seems that the rule in America is that a thirst-quenching beverage should always come packed with an overabundance of ice. Since people in other countries prefer to leave as much room as possible for the actual drink, American travelers always need to make ice a special request.

Americans seem to be single-minded on this point – ice makes for a delightful and refreshing drink. So next time you’re craving something cool and delicious, channel your inner American and ask for extra ice in your drink – but don’t be surprised if you get mistaken for an American tourist!


The American Adoration of Cheese

In America, cheese is for food what ice is for drinks. It has the magical ability to elevate the flavor of almost any dish. From pizza to pasta, salads to sandwiches, cheese seems to be every American’s go-to ingredient for adding a creamy, flavorful touch to food. 

So if you see an American waiting and waiting for the server to come back with some parmesan while their pasta grows cold, you’ll know straight away why that is. Americans find food straight up boring without a kick of cheese!


Americans Are Always in a Rush 

Americans are known for their “go-getter” attitude, and it’s no surprise that this extends to how they take their coffee. While in Europe, most people take time to savor and enjoy their coffee at the café. 

However, if you spot someone requesting a to-go cup, that is an excellent indicator that you might have spotted an American tourist. Whether it’s a cappuccino, americano, or latte, Americans love to grab their supersized coffees (with extra ice!) on the go and continue their busy day.


Adorably Puzzled by the Metric System

Only three of the world’s 195 countries still use the imperial system: Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States of America. Even Canada and the UK have figured out the metric system, but Americans are still hopelessly attached to inches, feet, miles, pounds, and degrees Fahrenheit.

So if you overhear people trying to figure out whether 30 degrees means they should wear a winter coat or a t-shirt or if they should get a taxi to a destination that’s 100 meters away, you’ll know they’re American.


European Store Hours: Not What You Expect! 

Many American travelers assume that stores remain open late or even 24/7, but this is often not the case. Many cultures value work life balance and close up by early evening at the latest. 

So, if you see a group of people wandering the streets, looking with a confused daze into closed store windows, trying to figure out why they can’t do any of that shopping they had been looking forward to, you can kindly let the Americans know that no, it’s not a national holiday, stores in your country just close at a normal hour.


The Art of Facial Hair Maintenance 

Be it a soul patch, a handlebar mustache, or a full-on beard, Americans know how to maintain their facial hair with incredible precision. Whether they’re prepping for a holiday or just keeping up appearances, their grooming skills never disappoint. 

It’s no wonder that every time we see Americans abroad, we’re always impressed by the neat beards and mustaches they’re rocking. Who says looking good can’t be effortless?


The Fashion Faux Pas of Americans Abroad

From bright Hawaiian shirts to cargo shorts, some Americans tend to dress like they are ready to explore the Amazon rainforest while traveling abroad. This fashion faux pas is a common sight abroad, where American tourists often opt for comfort over style. 

Whether it’s a lack of cultural knowledge or simply a desire to stand out, this US-specific tourist look can be spotted on the streets of many foreign destinations. To truly blend in with the locals, it’s important to dress appropriately. Investing in a few timeless pieces is a great way to look chic and travel in style!


White Socks for the Win! 

Socks and sandals are a tell-tale sign that you’re looking at a pair of American feet. So when those feet hit the sidewalks of your city, you’ll know straight away what this fashion statement means.


That’s right, you guessed it. These American tourists couldn’t figure out if the weather forecast, measured in celsius, meant it would be hot or cold – so they dressed for both!


They Insist on Pedestrian Rights 

Americans are accustomed to pedestrians having the right of way, expecting that cars will stop when they cross the street. Sadly, this is not the case in many places around the world. Indeed, one Redditor noted that in their country, a car could run you over without the driver thinking twice about it.

This is an unfortunate and dangerous reality that American tourists may be simply unaware of. The American tourist approach of simply strolling out into traffic is probably not the ideal way to create change, so if you spot someone doing this, please clue them in!


Ketchup Lovers Unite! 

From french fries to hot dogs, burgers to chicken wings, ketchup is the perfect partner for any American meal. It can be found on every restaurant table in every corner of the country, so it’s no wonder Americans expect it when they travel.

Source: sirZofSwagger/pexels

So if you hear someone asking for ketchup at a pizzeria, nice café, or even an ice cream shop, now you’ll understand why. Be a dear and introduce them to the dressings of choice in your country – the culinary world will thank you for it!


American Travelers and Their Incredible Resistance to Cold Weather 

It’s a cold winter day, and everyone is bundled up in their warm coats, scarves, and hats. But then, there is that one person who seems to be untouched by the chill of the season, walking around in shorts and a t-shirt as if it’s nothing! 


This unstoppable American is clearly not intimidated by the cold weather – or we’ve once again circled back to a fahrenheit vs. celsius mixup. Did they think that it was summer? Are they traveling in the southern hemisphere? Who knows. All we know is that they’re wearing shorts in snowy weather. Brrrr!


Everything Is Amazing 

Did you just hear someone go on and on about how beautiful that gray river is, the vibrant colors of a rainbow, or the lush green of the grass? You’ve likely just passed by an American tourist. 

People from more sedate cultures often raise an eyebrow at their endless exclamations, but it’s also lovely to see Americans marveling at the miracles of nature. We aren’t critical of this tourist trait at all, but we do still find it amusing. 


Not Making an Effort with Pronunciation

Americans are famous the world over for making no attempt whatsoever to pronounce words the right way, leading to miscommunication and confusion. If they bother to learn a few words of another language, American tourists often pronounce those words in their own super-American way, making them unintelligible to locals. 

These mispronunciations can lead to misunderstandings, but at least they give everyone a laugh. If you’re an American reading this, try not to feel too offended. But know that it does make you identifiably American when you travel! 


Complaining About Portion Sizes 

Is the person at the table next to you unsatisfied with the small portions they’ve been served? Are they complaining that they’re not getting enough bang for their buck? If you answered yes to these questions, we feel confident in guessing that you’re sitting next to an American. 

Americans come from the land of supersized everything, so we can’t blame them for being shocked and appalled at the serving sizes in other countries. We guess their only options are to be satisfied with less or to buy two meals at a time when traveling!


Americans Smile at Everyone 

Redditor u/thewidowgorey put her hand up as an American traveler with some info on how people spot her when she’s overseas. She spent a lot of time wondering how people could tell she was American before she said a word. The answer? She smiles at everyone. 


A friend filled u/thewidowgorey in on this interesting fact. She never wore socks with sandals, didn’t don Hawaiian shirts, and brushed up on local tipping etiquette, but the friendly smile she offered to everyone gave her away.


Revealing Their Innermost Secrets to Strangers

Americans have an uncanny way of connecting with strangers. While this is lovely, some foreigners are taken aback by how willingly Americans will pour their hearts out to bartenders, taxi drivers, and fellow tourists.

Perhaps it’s this sense of anonymity that prompts Americans to share their most intimate secrets with people they may never see again. Unloading troubles on strangers is a quintessential American trait – and it’s not hard to guess that someone is an American if they start pouring their heart out to a complete stranger!


Popped Collars and Backwards Baseball Caps

Is the guy next to you on the subway donning a baseball cap and a collar that’s standing at military levels of attention? That guy is not only most likely an American tourist, but he probably answers to ‘broseph’ as well.

This is the quintessential American bro look, and you can probably guess that this guy is also super confident, was in a frat in college, and is a gold medal level beer pong champion.


Americans Applaud Everything

Clapping is an essential part of any performance, and it’s always appreciated. However, Americans have earned a reputation for applauding inappropriately in movie theaters, on planes that land smoothly, and when listening to pre-recorded music. 

Source: HipHopDX

So, if you’re tending bar and just had a table full of people applaud the pitcher of iced margaritas you just brought to the table, expect a good tip – even if you’re in a country where tipping isn’t customary!


The One Thing Americans Can't Hide 

If you’re from the USA and trying to keep a low profile, you may have to update your slang. But here’s one thing you don’t have to worry about: “Bro” is no more odd than any other term of endearment used around the world. 

So don’t feel embarrassed about saying it – it’s no different than “mate” in Australia or “bruv” in the UK. But, be aware that you will be instantly identified as hailing from the land of red, white, and blue.


Fanny Packs for the Win

Walking down a chick shopping street packed with stylishly dressed fashion aficionados and that one middle aged couple sporting matching fanny packs? Not only have you spotted an American tourist, but you can even probably guess that they’re from the midwest.

These items may be convenient, but they also scream, “I’m American!” They even scream it in such a way that they would garner strange looks in more cosmopolitan American cities like LA or New York. So wear it if you want, fellow Americans, just don’t call it a “fanny pack” in Australia or the UK – you’ve been warned!


Puritanical Ideas Still Dominate American Thinking

Americans love to have a good time. However, the nation’s puritanical roots still have a profound influence on what’s considered acceptable. As such, Americans often stand out in Europe due to their horrified reaction to nudity depicted in art.


An example of this can be seen at art galleries, where visiting Americans might express disapproval at a figure’s lack of clothing in a painting by Raphael. This is a surefire way to spot an American from a mile away.


Wearing Shorts When No One Else Is Wearing Shorts

Americans love to be comfortable in their clothing, which makes shorts an obvious option, but that’s not a clear choice everywhere. In India, shorts are typically seen as an item of clothing for children, so a grown man in shorts may seem comical.

Source: Getty Images Photo/In Pictures Ltd

Also, if everyone is avoiding you on the Paris Metro, your shorts might be the reason why. Even as close to home as Mexico, people often comment on how easy it is to spot an American tourist – just look for the people wearing shorts!


Saying “Soccer” Instead of “Football”

Americans aren’t entirely indifferent to the global obsession with football. The problem is that Americans use the term “football” to refer to, well, American football. For this reason, most Americans use the term “soccer” to refer to what the rest of the world calls “football.”


We are not saying either word is right or wrong, but we will tell you that football fans notice when you use the word soccer. They notice, and they know immediately you’re an American tourist.


Walking While Eating 

We learned earlier that Europeans can always spot Americans by the takeaway coffee cups in their hands. Well, it seems this logic extends to food as well. While people from cultures across the world prefer to sit and enjoy their meals, Americans love getting a bite on the go. 


Walking while eating is a habit that is often seen as distinctly American. So if you’re a US resident who’s out exploring the world, why not try doing things the local way once in a while? You might discover a new appreciation for food!


Refusal to Even Try with the Metric System

We mentioned earlier that people can spot Americans a mile away by their need to convert everything to the imperial system. However, there’s another level to the story. Not only do Americans need to convert everything to imperial, but they also refuse to give the metric system a chance.  


This stubbornness was recognized by many Redditors who noted that Americans often get surprisingly defensive about the imperial system. This makes American tourists especially easy to spot!


Seeking Out McDonald's Wherever They Go

Traveling abroad can be a great experience, but why go to all the expense just to eat the same food you would get at home? Many Americans seem to disagree with this sentiment, as McDonald’s is one of the most popular restaurants among US expats around the world. 

Source: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

In fact, locals can tell if someone is from the US just by asking, “are they eating McDonald’s?” – a testament to the power of the golden arches. McDonald’s abroad provides expats and tourists alike with a taste of home and fries on the side!


Goodbye Germs, Hello Hand Sanitizer! 

Americans aren’t obsessed with cleanliness, but they sure do love their hand sanitizer! When it comes to eating out in public, there’s nothing quite like the convenience of a trusty travel-sized bottle of Purell.


No matter where you are, you can feel safe that germs won’t be following you around. Just remember that every time you pull out your pocket-sized Purell, you’re telling everyone in the vicinity that you’re an American tourist.


Expecting Everyone to Speak English 

The United States covers more than 3.5 million square miles, and in all that space, one language dominates: English. Of course, there are plenty of other languages spoken by immigrants to the US. However, many Americans still grow up with the idea that everyone around them naturally speaks their language. 


Perhaps this is why Americans seem so exasperated when they go to non-English-speaking countries and discover that people don’t speak English. This expectation that everyone should speak English is uniquely American, and according to Reddit, it has not gone unnoticed!


Shouting Across the Room - Is It Really Necessary

Talking louder can definitely be effective when trying to get someone’s attention, but it is not always necessary. Unfortunately, Americans have yet to master the art of the “inside voice.” 


If you want your accent to be the only thing that gives you away, you’ll need to learn to use your inside voice. It can be a great way to show respect in various settings. So next time you feel the urge to shout, take a deep breath and think twice. You never know who may be listening.


Treating Other American Tourists Like Best Friends 

Nothing brings US citizens together like an unexpected reunion abroad! From a distance, it may appear to be a family reunion, but these are complete strangers. When two Americans cross paths, there is an undeniable joy in the air as they share stories of their home states. 


Conversations get louder and more animated, and everyone around them is sure to know they are from the United States. This is another one of those traits that’s more adorable than annoying.


What's With the Crossed Legs Every Time?

Americans love to cross their legs when they sit. If ten people are in a room sitting with legs crossed, best believe that eight of them would be from the States. You can trust these unofficial statistics. 

Source: Icovetthee/Instagram

One Reddit user even recounted an incident when she betrayed her nationality by sitting with her legs crossed and exposing the sole of her feet. Someone walked up to her and guessed rightly that she was American. 


Americans Will Make You Laugh

Many Reddit users agreed that Americans are blessed with a great sense of humor. Besides their extrovertive and carefree approach to exploration, they can also transmit their joy with words.

Source: Niagarafallsusa/Pinterest

So, if you see anyone cracking up a group of tourists, don’t guess too far. They are most likely from the States. They do it quite effortlessly too. Many times, almost with a straight face, like it’s what they were born to do. 


When Someone Says "A 40-Minute Drive"

It’s easy to tell someone who is from the States apart from a group of tourists when it’s time to define distances. Non-Americans “complain” about Americans’ unusual way of describing distances. 

Source: Jefferyhyun/Reddit

Instead of describing distances in measures of distance, an American will describe the distance of a journey in terms of time instead. So expect to hear them say “It was a 40-minute drive” instead of “I traveled 10 kilometers.” 


They Desire A Universal Acceptance of the Dollar

Also, don’t be too amused to hear an American tourist groan about the U.S. dollar’s lack of acceptance in a foreign land. We aren’t sure why, but Yankees seem to think that the dollar should be universally adopted. 

Source: ebay/Pinterest

The assumption seems to be widespread too. Going by one Reddit user’s comment, Americans go as far as giving tips in dollars. In the user’s own words, “9 out of 10, they [Americans] would tip us in dollars.”


Too Many Photos

Americans appreciate the little things. Maybe too many of the little things. So they leave tourist sites with loads of pictures taken, way more than they need. That’s how to spot an American tourist. 

Source: Tendencee/Pinterest

They do lots of pictures and aren’t shy to take a million pictures in one location. They may temporarily hire you to take up to ten quick photographs of them if you are unlucky to be nearby. Some others barely go out without a camera hanging from their necks.