12 Ways to Spot an American Tourist Abroad – How Many Are You Guilty Of?

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

From talking loudly to tipping generously, there are plenty of ways to spot an American tourist abroad. We’ve put together a list of telltale signs from Reddit users on how they spot Americans overseas. Some we can be proud of, others not so much, how many are you guilty of? Let’s find out!

Wearing High White Socks

White socks - ways to spot an American tourist
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“The white socks is a bit of a giveaway, the other is knee high socks with birkenstocks.” – u/the_drew.

If you spot someone strolling around Rome’s Colosseum or waiting in line for the London Eye wearing pulled-up white socks, you can be pretty sure they’re a fellow American. This extends to Birkenstocks, too – a sinful blunder according to fashion enthusiasts.

How Noisy They Are

loud person - how to spot an American tourist
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“Generally hear them before I see them ;p” – u/ChamplooStu

Whether a fair representation or not, it’s one you’ll hear non-Americans saying all the time – “You’re all too loud.” Whether it’s inside a museum, at the beach, or on public transport, you’re definitely more likely to hear an American before you spot them.

Tipping Well

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“They leave a tip for good service.” – deleted user.

Tipping abroad can be confusing but at least Americans are known for being generous. Although it’s a must-do in the US, tipping isn’t considered all that important in many other countries. So it’s safe to say servers abroad enjoy looking after us Americans! 

Representing Their College Abroad

College cap
Image Credit: St Boniface Catholic College via Flickr.

“[Wearing] their college t shirt, sweater or cap.” – deleted user.

It seems our pride for America extends further than the actual nation and to our colleges. This rings true for Americans living and dating abroad, too. One user added “Good one, that’s also how you spot the Tinder profiles of Americans studying abroad lol.”

Asking Direct Questions

Asking direct question
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“They ask surprisingly direct questions too. “Is this the way to the bathroom? Do you know my friend Robin who lives in Scotland? How much money do you make?”” – u/opopkl

It varies across the world but in places like Europe, you’ll find people, especially strangers, act very reserved and cautious in comparison to an American traveler. There’s nothing wrong with being direct, it can just throw people off if they’re not used to it!

Wearing Baseball Caps

Man wearing baseball cap
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“…I never realized how many other Americans wore baseball hats.” – u/IAmWarbot

Although now becoming more of a fashion staple across the world, Americans are known for donning baseball caps more than any other nation. And if you see a group of people all wearing baseball caps, you can be 99% sure they’re all American. One user did point out how useful they are when going through airport security, however: “…use a hat as a pouch to hold everything in your pockets before you get to the scanner.”

Shoes off at Airport Security

Taking shoes off for airport security
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“They take their shoes off for airport security, even when there is a sign saying not to take shoes off.” – u/alphamone

Many Americans are shocked to find out that taking your shoes off at airport security is not a common practice overseas. It’s become such a routine when traveling stateside that you’ll catch many Americans removing their shoes despite the clear signs stating the contrary.

Complaining About the Lack of Air Con

Person complaining
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“They’re the first to kick off when it’s a hot day and the Grade II listed hotel I work in doesn’t have air-conditioning. Then they leave a bad review 🙁 believe me, I would LOVE air con but we’re not allowed to change the building.” – u/mailroomgirl

In a nation where air con reigns supreme and it can be found more or less anywhere when the warm weather hits, it is a shock to the system to visit places where it isn’t used!

They Have a Smile on Their Face

Happy tourists
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“They are smiling and happy and bright. Other tourists look more neutral or unhappy. American’s seem very cheerful.” – deleted user.

One of the ‘nicer’ comments on this particular Reddit thread, it’s good to hear at least some locals abroad see Americans as happy and cheerful!

Causing Chaos on the Roads

Road traffic
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“In the UK, first-time American tourists look bewildered trying to navigate their rental car in busy roundabouts (traffic circles).” – Deleted user.

With a whole scene in National Lampoon’s European Vacation making fun of American travelers trying to navigate British roundabouts, there’s no surprise this comment was brought up. But let’s face it, they are super confusing!

Blown Away by Historic Landmarks

Couple walking by a temple
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“Amazed by things which are more than 200 years old, presumably because they don’t have many things that old in the USA.” – r/Dusepo

You can hardly blame us for this one. If you come from a country that is as young as America, a 600-year-old cottage in Oxford is going to blow our minds! 

Choice of Footwear – Sneakers, Sneakers, and more Sneakers

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“Footwear. Americans for some reason wear sneakers / running shoes when unnecessary.” – deleted user

If Americans were to have a national uniform, you can be sure the footwear of choice would be a good ol’ pair of sneakers. And for good reason! They’re comfortable and great to wear when walking around all day. But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to mix it up every so often with a nice pair of boots!

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