While the majority of tourists are some of the friendliest, most open, and curious people you’ll ever meet, unfortunately, a small but vocal minority can spoil everyone’s good reputation. When it comes to international travel, not everyone is as respectful to other cultures as the locals would like.
Redditor Bugginette asked people to share the weirdest things they’ve seen tourists do that would be considered disrespectful or inappropriate in their countries. In this case, Bugginette wanted to focus on American tourists. Have a read through some of the non-American locals’ stories below.
Keep in mind that is just a handful of people’s experiences with Americans, dear Pandas. This isn’t to say that all American tourists are uncultured or that visitors from other nations are complete angels. That’s absolutely not the case. So if you’re in the mood for some wholesome compliments about what Americans are doing great to balance things out, check out Bored Panda’s article right over here.
Meanwhile… let’s delve into the shadowy side of tourism and definitely how not to behave when on holiday abroad.
Calling black people African-American despite many having never visited the USA. It’s stupid. Black is not a racist term
Claiming that Ireland isn't "properly" Irish, and that the only way to experience "true", "traditional" Irish culture is to visit Boston.
I saw an American father (with young kids in tow) explain to an elderly Japanese man why they just had to drop the bomb on Hiroshima, no way around it...
At the Peace Museum.
At the time of writing, Redditor Bugginette’s viral thread had gotten more than 29.3k upvotes and 74 awards in just 2 days. Some of the responses were completely astounding. It’s hard to believe that anyone could be so rude.
Most of what makes up tourist etiquette is pretty much common sense. Treat others like you’d like to be treated yourself. Behave like you’d want tourists visiting your hometown to behave. Be a decent human being because we’re all people. Don’t shake koalas out of trees. Don’t try to sneak into the Paris catacombs with a bone that you stole. Don’t immediately assume that you can pay everyone in US dollars. It’s fairly straightforward, no?
German here. Never go to visit any concentration camp museum without understanding that in less than 10 minutes your blood will start to boil because of how disrespectful tourists can be. It's unbelievable.
I once got told by an American tourist that I spoke English quite well.
I'm English and this was in England.
I overheard the guy standing in front of me in the queue at mc D's having a meltdown:
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T ACCEPT AMERICAN DOLLARS THIS IS A MCDONALD'S!!!"
this was in Poland, Europe.
Professor Christine Vogt, the Director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism at Arizona State University, explained to me that we should do our best to do background research about the local customs and language before embarking on any trip.
“More than likely that is what draws a person to visit a certain place. The more local knowledge a traveler has, the more a traveler can feel like a local and fit in," Professor Vogt told Bored Panda during an earlier in-depth interview about tourist etiquette.
The best one I've heard was the American tourist complaining that they built Edinburgh castle so far from the train station.
In Australia, shook a koala out of a tree at a wildlife park
Not exactly disrespectful or inappropriate, but certainly weird.
I meet an American tourist that seemed very confused so I walked up to her and asked her if I could help. She told me yes and asked me how to get to the famous alps and cuckoo clock workshops.
….. I had to explain to her that she was in Sweden, not Switzerland.
"Local customs can include how a traveler dresses, eats, uses a cell phone, etc. When a traveler is out in a community such as walking in a downtown area or eating in a restaurant, these local customs can come into play,” she explained what we should all take into account before going abroad, whether it’s for business or for pleasure.
“For example, in Buddhist countries, a woman who has not covered her shoulders or legs may not be allowed into temples or even a restaurant. Learn as many local customs as you can and a few key words to enhance your experience," the professor pointed out to Bored Panda.
While interrailing on France a couple of American dudes were very loudly talking [badly] about other passengers (I got my fair share). Apparently they tought nobody could understand them.
Shut them up by talking English to my friend.
When I was in France a couple of American tourists tried to sneak out of the Paris Catacombs with a bone they had stolen.
I'm an American but I was visiting England and touring the Tower of London. There was a cannon behind a rope with a "Do not touch or climb" sign.
This American woman lifted the rope and told her kid (maybe 7 years old) to go sit on the cannon so she could take a picture. The KID protested and said the sign said no... The woman said she didn't care, and ordered her kid to do it or she'd ground them.
Professor Vogt also went into detail about what historic sites can do to protect artifacts from tourists who want to steal themselves a souvenir or two. According to her, posting the penalties for stealing, setting up signs that discourage thieving, and using cameras to catch those who break the law are just some of the ways in which to control potential artifact-pilferers.
Something else that such sites can do is setting up a display of all the items that have been returned by thieving tourists over the years, showing that they’ve had a change of heart. According to Professor Vogt, the Petrified Forest National Park in Eastern Arizona has a display just like this one.
South African here; Americans tend to have this habbit where they will climb out of their vehicle in the middle of a game reserve, get attacked by a wild animal because they wanted to get closer or try to pet it, and then cry about it.
I thought people that come from the country that has Grizzly bears and mountain lions would be a bit more cautious around wild animals.
Also, the shock they experience when they realise there are cities here and not everyone is living in mudhuts.
Not inappropriate, just moronic and facepalm worthy.
Saw an American Karen scream at people in London (UK) at Britain for stealing America's place names.
An American tourist orders a turkey dinner at a restaurant, and then flags down the server to let her know that the kitchen forgot the cranberry sauce. The server comes back with it in a small dish. After she finished her meal, someone at the table pointed out that she’d forgotten to use the cranberry sauce that she asked for. She says: “Oh, I don’t like cranberry sauce” So the person at the table follows up with “Then why did you ask the server to bring you some?!” Her answer: “Because it comes with the meal.”
They did the nazi greeting in the middle of Berlin (Germany), not far from the jewish memorial
Where are the kangaroos?
Sir, you are in austria. Not Australia.
Iceland. We get a lot of tourism when there isn't a pandemic and about half are American. It's mostly just ignorance and the refusal to accept that things work differently here. Also, while most people here speak English to some degree there are a few tourists that are furious about it not being the default language in businesses that aren't even connected to tourism. God forbid we speak our own language at work.
Oh and Northern Lights. There's a ton of people who seem to think we can just flick a switch and have the Northern Lights appear.
My homewtown is famous for each year having a giant hay goat built in the middle of the city, and each year someone, illegally burns it down. It has become culture at this point to burn it down but if you are caught you still go down for arson.
One american who was visiting this town heard of this phenomenon and the fact that it was burnt down each year. Same night he goes out and burns it down, is apprehended by police and becomes the first person since 1966 to be Sentenced for burning the goat. (2003)
I'm French, I was chatting with an American women who was visiting (friend of a friend of a family member). At one point we start talking about the differences between our countries. She said "The USA is the only country in the world with true freedom". I thought she was joking but she was not. I told her "what do you mean? We are also free in France". She looked at me with a condescending smirk and said "Really?" like to make me admit something. I just nodded and left.
Im English sitting in an English train station one day on my way to work. On the bench to my left sit two massively obese American women in flowery dresses loudly talking about how old and s***ty our train stations look.
On my right sits an young Asian guy who gets up and walks toward the Americas to put something in the bin. When he's close to them one of them shouts
HER: 'you ain't Chinese are you?',
HIM: '..oh no I'm a Korean student miss'
HER: 'which part?'
HIM: 'South Korea miss'
HER: 'good, those North Koreans are crazy, we should bomb them!'
He just went and quietly sat back down as the women went on to rant about how Asian countries are all aweful and America should somthing about it.
Just general rude, loud, ignorant behaviour.
I had dinner with an American in China. He asked for water in English, and the waiter didn’t understand. He spoke up and repeated himself in a patronisingly slow voice, and again the waiter, not being able to speak English, didn’t understand. I asked for the water in Chinese and the waiter left. The American then said “it’s so infuriating here sometimes”.
There are many things that can be annoying and inconvenient in China, but simply expecting people to understand your language is unreasonable as f**k.
Im from South Asia, and from a country infamous for its war against terrorism. Since we have won it and the country has been safe for quite a few years, we have started seeing tourists return to our country. The people here are very generous and hospitable. They know about the bad name the war brought to the country, and everyone, regardless of how much they have, is trying to do what they can to improve the image. Based on this, it is very common to see street vendors/ restaurant owners refusing to receive payment for their food from tourists. They claim that “you are our guests. And we never take payments from guests” which I believe is a very sweet and kind gesture since these people dont have much and are struggling to break even most of the time.
However, since the past year or two, this thing has become really famous due to youtube, and a lot of foreign vloggers are abusing it. They often go to street vendors and dont even offer paying. More so, it is as if instead of going to popular restaurant which they could easily afford, they basically go to these vendors specifically so they shouldnt have to pay. Now that is okay and acceptable to some extent, but following this with the intention to abuse it is something that doesn’t settle well with me. Like i said, the street vendors are mostly struggling financially, and while many of the foreign vloggers are getting paid well, its as if they’re looting these low income people. I know part of this might seem inconsistent and what not. Like maybe the people can just stop offering them free food, but this has been part of our culture and tradition for generations, and it takes quite a while to abandon traditions. Anyway, my two cents is that sure, enjoy the hospitality. We do it out of love and it reflects how we really are. But please dont abuse it. Also, if someone does good to you, please pay it forward. Maybe by tipping someone well or something? Such a thing would be really nice:)
I was in a tour group in Tajikistan and we were inside a locals house who had invited us in for tea and he was telling us about his family and how many children they have etc. The only American in the group piped up and asked ‘what contraception does your wife use, does she use herbs or something?’….
Everyone was just aghast and he politely avoided the question, then there was a long awkward silence. And so the she asked AGAIN! At that point another tour member interjected and said ‘ok, I think it’s time for us to leave, thanks for having us’
She asked me about the different churches in our city (we have quite a lot, some very old), which were the prettiest, etc, and asked me to point those on the map, and I obliged since she was polite. So far so good. Then she asked which one was my fave for sunday service. I said as respectfully as I could that I didn't, actually, go to church. Then she forcefully grabbed my arm, drew a cross sign on my brow, and told me she would pray for me
Lady, well, don't touch me, k?
Any time I've seen interactions between Americans and the queens guard. Does make me laugh though when the guardsman yells at them or just plough through them when marching.
Just leave the lads alone they have job to do and they are professional soldiers.
I've been waiting tables during tourist seasons for about 4 years in Croatia, I've met many people, some good, some bad, but the Americans are by far the worst. The Poles come, eat, laugh, drink, pay, the French and Brits drink, laugh, but dont tip so well, the Italians are annoying but they have demands that are reasonable.
However when white Americans come, they just ruin everything. They ask for food that we dont have on menu, like pizza or fast food stuff like nuggets, they try to flirt with our waitresses even when told to stop, many leave without paying, and they always, for some reason, want to split the bill.
But this one guy, this degenerate, comes into the restourant, starts yelling at all of us that he can't eat, asks us "WHY IS IT SO LOUD?" and says we have to do something about it. This [friggin] guy couldn't eat because the church bell was too loud for him, and wanted us, waiters and cooks, to ask the guy ringing the church bell to stop so the American can eat. My coleague and me chased him out, told him never to come back.
F**k that guy.
When I came down from the Fuji summit after a 8 hour climb and 4 hour descent with 3 layers of clothing to protect myself from the weather, an American with a selfie stick, in t-shirt and shorts asked me where mount Fuji was. I told him we are on mount Fuji, it's a big mountain/vulcano. "But where is the summit" I pointed to the summit and told him it's about 8 hours that way. This guy thought he could just come in with his selfie stick, grab a few quick selfies on the summit and return to Tokyo lol.
I was in the American War Museum in Vietnam, really incredible of place which shows the history of the American Vietnam war, there's victims of agent orange on the top floor which was so upsetting to see.
There was an American chap going around the museum with a t-shirt with an American flag and loads of guns on it and right in the middle with big bold writing Freedom the American Way.
I know people are Patriotic but there's a time and place, I thought it was pretty vile tbh.
Not buy their round. In a pub in Ireland. When the pub round system had been explained to them. And they had happily taken drinks from everyone. And when it was their round, and everyone had empty glasses. and it was Mentioned that "Think it's your round.." and they responded " I think I'm good now thanks" Mortified for bringing them with me!! (and yes I bought the round for everyone else on their behalf.)
I was told "You are very bright for a Mexican". Not only was that slightly racist but, I am also Spanish. .
I’m a Brit who was in Rome on a food tour. There was a pair of women form Chicago (I know because they told us 20 times) and one of them would interrupt the tour guide at every opportunity to tell him Chicago invented pizza and how the pizza here wasn’t as good because “real pizza is deep dish”, while the other woman agreed. It was a 4 hour tour and they mentioned it every 20 mins at least. The pizzeria stop on the tour was unbearable.
Lectured me for 3 hours on a train on why Australia needed to stop free healthcare.
3 hours is a very long time to listen to that.
The guy got pretty angry that my English sucked when asking me for directions, I mean yeah It can be frustrating but Im taking the time to help you wtf dude.
He said I lived in Canada so I was supposed to speak it flawlessly like dude I spoke French my entire life but I’m doing my best over here to communicate sorry for the accent.
I was at a lavender farm in the South of France a few years ago. Two coach loads of American tourists pull up, they all got out on the standard "you won't get long enough to really see this place" type tour. One lady very proudly states she is an expert on lavender and that this place was "cute but it's all fake, the lavender isn't the right colour". There were bees and other insects all over it, the whole farm smelled amazing and there was a harvest taking place! It was very real
An American exchange student who complained to me in anger that book stores in Germany have so many books in German. I mean, it's not unusual here for every book store to even have a small section of books in other languages including English so it's not like she never got to buy a book here, she could read...
I was working a bar in Scotland. There was a woman one night with her daughter and she refused to pay with anything other than American cash. It was a super uncomfortable situation, me trying to explain how stupid it all was, her daughter (who I think was living in Scotland) was trying to calm her down and trying to pay but the mother kept pulling the her hand away from the card machine saying “you people love our money, our money is more important than yours”. She kicked on for a solid 5 to 10 minutes, her daughter ended up paying and leaving. Then she had a go at me for embarrassing her daughter and she even left a review on trip advisor explaining the situation, she explained it perfectly literally wrote herself as the bag guy in the review. F**king mind boggling how delusional this bird was.
India. Subway has seats designed for ladies. American guy in his twenties totally refused to move and let the ladies who were standing, sit. He was requested by everyone for like 5 minutes.
Not disrespectful but kinda funny, Bruges in Belgium is a nicely preserved town with many medieval elements. Apparently a lot of American tourists ask the locals “when does this theme park close?”
They made fun of our money and how it looked. They claimed they couldn't figure it out because it was so weird, so they threw a bunch of bills at my sister and asked her to figure it out and give them change.
We're Canadian. The number is literally on the bill. We all spoke English. They gave my sister several hundred dollar bills. This was at an apple festival and the fries only cost $5. Wtf
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