People always know I'm an American abroad right away. Here's why…

/, humor, Solo Female Travel, Travel hacks, USA/People always know I'm an American abroad right away. Here's why…

People always know I'm an American abroad right away. Here's why…

There are a few things you’re probably doing that make you stick out as a “typical American tourist” (effecting your favorability depending on what that person thinks of the states).  Sometimes , depending on the country I’ve been visiting, people love the fact that I’m American.  Other times, not so much.  It’s been particularly interesting to see peoples’ reactions to me being American post-election- but I won’t be getting political right now, I’m just saying…passport control in certain countries suddenly got more difficult after January.

Regardless of what I think, or what you think, about our current sociological and political climate, what goes on at home affects how we travel.  Suddenly, when you’re abroad, you find yourself feeling more American than ever.  People can tell almost immediately that I’m American.  At first this really threw me off because there is no “American ethnicity” other than Native American, which I am not.  Two years into international traveling and I’ve finally gained an understanding of what makes a person look like a “cliche American.”
Don’t worry if you do all of these things, it’s what makes us “special.”

10 Tell-tale signs you’re an American abroad:

  1. Being too saucey- I get made fun of for my sauce consumption even when I’m back home in California, so you can imagine the weird looks I get most other places in the world when I ask for “extra sauce please!”  A word of the wise from me to you: DO NOT ask for ranch dressing when you’re abroad (not even for your pizza).  Trust me, they don’t have it and don’t know what it is.  I went without ranch dressing and extra sauce for a year and a half, you can too.  
  2. Water Demander- You want me to pay how much?!  Many, if not most, other countries do not have drinkable tap water and charge for it, or they do have drinkable tap water but won’t serve it to you at restaurants.  I’ve had to pay $3 for a water at a restaurant that could have given me a glass filled from the tap for free.  Each country is a bit different but in general you do not get complimentary water like you do automatically at an American restaurant.  I’ve got to admit, I’m two years into traveling sound the world and this one still irks me.  calm-2315559_1920.jpg
  3. Ice cubes are “unnecessary” and “high maintenance” according to people in many other parts of the world, specifically in Europe.  Brrrr.  That’s cold.  

    If you want bonus points for being American abroad, drink this many beers AND ask for ice.

  4. Overpacker- We are the ultimate consumers, us Americans, aren’t we?  Leave it to us to lug around twice as much crap as our European cousins walking through an airport.  We have got the overpacking thing DOWN.  I packed so much for that first Europe trip that I ended up leaving some of my belongings at each stop until I could carry my bag more efficiently.  Suddenly all that stuff I thought I needed became a burden I couldn’t wait to get rid of, and each item I left behind gave me what I really needed: a lighter load and a less-achy back.  I’m packing less and less each time I go abroad now.  (READ my packing list for women traveling abroad long-term.) 
  5. Loud Speaker- Back in April I was reminded just how loud we really are.  I was in Singapore with another American.  From hotel check in, I was extremely aware how quiet the locals spoke and how loud we were in comparison.  The Singaporean locals speak at a volume we would consider whispering.  Meanwhile I’m over here like…president-1822449_1920 
  6. Chatty Kathy- Not only are we loud, we’re loud A LOT.  We talk endless circles around most other nationalities, and it’s all too apparent when you’re immersed in another culture that shares less verbal details constantly.  I have become hyper-aware of this and find myself becoming a better listener as people share with the mentality of “less is more.”  I don’t want to miss the few sentences they DO share.  Definitely something to be mindful of when you travel abroad- especially in Asia where they are far more reserved.
  7. Baseball hats all day erryday. We’re obsessed with baseball hats.  It’s true.  Perhaps our logic is this: what better time to pull out that cheesy hat from 2008 than in a foreign country where no one knows you?!  Who knows.  For me, in all honesty, I just get lazy on the hair front when I travel so hats are my solution.  I realize now just how much it makes me stand out immediately from the locals- especially if I’m wearing my red MAGA hat…. I’m totally kidding.  I do NOT own one of those things.I do own one of these though….Here’s my new favorite SUPER American hat on Amazon…
  8. Big toothy grins.  Someone once told me a joke that really sums this up.  “If you see a man wandering around the woods smiling, you’ll assume he’s one of three things 1) A complete psychopath, 2) Lost and needs directions, or 3) American.”  It really is true though!  We Americans smile A LOT.  Go anywhere in Europe and you’ll feel like an overly friendly person even in your worst mood.  I, for one, think this is one of the great things about us Americans!
  9. Incessant apologizing.  So you walked in the door the same time as someone, or asked the waiter to go back for your drink they forgot.  SO WHAT.  Why are you apologizing?  Why do we do this all the time?  Through spending so much time abroad around the otherwise unapologetic masses, I’ve realized just how often I say “I’m sorry” for no reason.  Maybe I’ll switch over to “sorry not sorry” and see how that goes…
  10. Your Hawaii t-shirt from vacation 2001.  You know which one I’m talking about…nobody-2724678_1920.jpg

Like I said before, don’t worry if you do any or all of these 10 things.  Becoming more self-aware is one of the huge benefits of travel, and not taking yourself too seriously is KEY to enjoying the journey.  Stay true to you, travel on, and laugh lots along the way.  That’s my plan anyway!

By |2017-09-16T11:20:49+00:00September 16th, 2017|Drinking and Traveling, humor, Solo Female Travel, Travel hacks, USA|23 Comments

About the Author:

On August 14th, 2015 I left my life in the United States behind with the intention to never look back. I had the "American Dream" and I woke up from it, to create a new reality for myself. I sought out beauty in a world that was increasingly dark for me at the time and ended up finding more than I bargained for. With only a backpack, I traveled across Europe, South East Asia and then on to Africa. With over 30 countries stamped in my passport, I've become an entirely new version of myself with a broader perspective on what it means to be a woman in today's world. My hope is that by sharing my stories and featuring women like me from around the world, we can inspire others to break down their own internal barriers and go cross a few international borders while they're at it. I truly believe travel can be healing to a troubled soul, empowering to the lost and rejuvenating for the exhausted. Perspective is everything, and I believe in the power of "going global," what about you? is a site that started out with my stories and grew into a platform for women all around the world to tell their travel tales of trials and triumph. We all believe that the more you see of the world, the better you can be as a person who inhabits it. Women encouraging other women to grow, travel, evolve- that's what SGG is all about. ---> Read my very first blog post (see "Archives" for August 2015) to learn how this all began.


  1. Adriana September 17, 2017 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    #5 made me laugh!! “not taking yourself too seriously is KEY to enjoying the journey. Stay true to you, travel on, and laugh lots along the way” love this last bit! xx

    • Heather Ditmars September 17, 2017 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      Haha thanks Adriana! I swear if I didn’t have my sense of humor I’d be lost forever.

  2. fellybee September 17, 2017 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    Number 8 is hilarious!!! Number 9 is so true, too. I’ve noticed women say sorry, or “just” very often.

  3. Sarah (Hamelman) Jones September 17, 2017 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    This is just spot on! I visited Poland, Germany & Czechoslovakia and the lack of free water make me crazy- especially the lack of free refills (why are we the only country that does this?!). Thank you for sharing this, it made me smile.

    • Heather Ditmars September 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      I’ve been home for a few months and I’ve been enjoying ever last drop of free water while I can! (And ice too!) 🤣

  4. Adine @ Average To Awesome September 17, 2017 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    It’s true, you can spot an American tourist from miles away! But mostly because they have this positive look and vibe, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much 😉

  5. Dreaming of Many Ventures September 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    I lived in Europe for a year and a half and all of these are so true! I relate on every level!

    • Heather Ditmars September 17, 2017 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      Nice to know I’m in good company! Where in Europe did you live? Awesome. 🙌🏼

      • Dreaming of Many Ventures September 18, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

        I lived in Germany for a year and Austria for 6 months. I just moved to Houston two weeks ago from Austria!

  6. Johanne September 18, 2017 at 10:52 am - Reply

    This is hilarious! I’m Dutch (with an American dad) and I still live in the Netherlands. Whenever I go to the US I notice a world of difference… And not to confirm the stereotypes or anything but we do think that Americans are quite loud, haha. Also, I hate ice cubes in my drinks. So unnecessary! 😉

  7. A pinch of Jo September 18, 2017 at 10:53 am - Reply

    This is hilarious! I’m Dutch (with an American dad) and I still live in the Netherlands. Whenever I go to the US I notice a world of difference… And not to confirm the stereotypes or anything but we do think that Americans are quite loud, haha. Also, I hate ice cubes in my drinks. So unnecessary! 😉

  8. samishephard September 18, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness, I just got back from a summer in Spain and I was all too excited for free tap water and free public bathrooms! A small price to pay though because I’m dying to go back!

  9. Steph @ Life at Six Knots September 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    I love the one about being too saucy! We Americans definitely like our sauces!

  10. goingwithhappy September 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    I didn’t know we smiled so much that’s crazy! Not gonna be ashamed of that one though haha I’m happy we do. Didn’t know about the water thing either though that’s gotta be super irksome!

  11. Clive B. Gordon September 18, 2017 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I live in Tokyo, and I always cringe in embarrassment when a group of Americans piles onto an otherwise silent train and holds a loud, boisterous conversation. My only consolation is that the Brits and Aussies do it, too. But then, the locals giving me the side-eye can easily imagine me being any of those.
    Oh, well. Just sit there, quietly, and don’t make eye contact, and maybe I’ll just blend into the surroundings. But for Pete’s sake, fellow Yankees, pipe down!

    • Traveling American September 19, 2017 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      Sorry not sorry Clive, we are who we are. we are friendly people and enjoy the company of others.

  12. Miss Monèt September 18, 2017 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this! I’ve only been abroad once in my life but I had no idea of the traits Americans have. Aside from the sauce request lol. I don’t like ranch dressing like that. This will definitely make me think twice when I go abroad again. Excellent post!

  13. Suzanne Fluhr September 19, 2017 at 12:05 am - Reply

    Actually, I think Canadians apologize more than Americans.

  14. Missy September 20, 2017 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Good info. Thanks!

  15. Alyssaallday September 21, 2017 at 12:17 am - Reply

    I haven’t seen an Hawaiian shirt for a while but the rest are so on point!!!!

  16. Toni September 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    I am cracking up about smiling! Did not know about ice. Good to know. Thanks for sharing.

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