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It’s time to take the trip of a lifetime. You’ve packed a few bags, gathered up the kids and you’re ready to head off to a beautiful European country. But the question as, did you actually prepare for the trip? No, that has nothing to do with what you packed in your bags. It has to do with your familiarity of local customs of the country’s you’re about to visit.
Do you know what type of food to order? Do you know how to speak at least a little of their language? Did you pack the proper clothing? All of these things are very important when traveling abroad and here are the 10 ways that Americans travel like complete idiots overseas.
1. You’re Not in Kansas Anymore
One of the biggest problems American tourists have is that they believe everything should work overseas the same way it does at home. That is simply not the case and is a very arrogant presumption. Here are six things that you need to study before traveling to any country abroad: food, greetings, gift giving, money exchange, handshakes and body language. If you don’t understand the customs of the country you’re visiting, chances are you will have a very disappointing trip.
2. Can I Get Fries with That?
Whatever you do, don’t be that person who orders french fries in a restaurant in Paris. Or fried chicken at a quaint spot in Italy. Travel experts have indicated that one of the worst things Americans do is order “American-style” food in foreign countries (mainly because they just don’t know any better). Just because you’re from the U. S. doesn’t mean that you can only order pizza, burgers or Caesar salads in a foreign bistro. And by not sampling the local cuisine, you are really doing yourself a disservice on what it’s like to live in that particular culture.
3. Speak and Be Understood
Although we understand that English is spoken all around the world, you should still make some effort to learn common phrases for the countries you are visiting. For example you should at least understand what a proper greeting is in Italy. Or perhaps how to ask for directions in London. When you do ask someone a question in their language, then you can follow it up by saying, “do you speak English?” The main thing is don’t be so obnoxious in believing that anyone and everyone speaks English. Do yourself a favor and at least learn some of the common phrases before taking a trip.
4. Don’t Just Take What You Want
We understand that you want to bring gifts back home to all of your family and friends. But that doesn’t mean you can steal a part of history from any foreign country. In fact some countries such as Egypt, Mexico and Turkey have very strict laws regarding souvenirs and antiques. In some countries you can even be arrested if you purchase what authorities believed to be a national treasure. Your best bet in situations like this is to purchase a reproduction and not an original.
5. Dress the Part
It is imperative that you research the clothing styles in foreign countries. For the most part you want to try to blend in with others while you’re traveling abroad but there are always sure ways where locals can spot an American. So be careful on wearing items such as shorts, flip-flops and gym shoes. In Europe, gym shoes are for wearing to the gym; not for sightseeing. But if you do decide to wear a pair gym shoes, please don’t wear that bright pink and yellow pair from Nike that will make you stand out like a sore thumb.
6. No, Not the Fanny Pack!
This one doesn’t require much of an explanation. Fanny packs went out in the 90s. Whatever you do don’t wear one when you’re traveling overseas. Whatever you do don’t wear one when you’re in the United States. Whatever you do, don’t wear one ever again!
7. Keep Your Voice down
Living in America, most of us are probably used to overhearing other people’s conversations because they are so loud. Well guess what? People in foreign countries hate loud American tourists. They don’t care about hearing what we did that day or who we talked to or what’s going on back at home. So perhaps if you can’t keep your voice down then it’s probably best to not say anything at all.
8. Always Have a Return Plan
No, this has nothing to do with returning to the states. This has to do with taking a tour trip to a remote location and then not having a plan on getting back to your hotel. Whatever you do, please plan ahead! Because if you don’t, you will be the stupid American who tries to catch the bus which isn’t coming back until the next morning.
9. Bring Plenty of Cash
In the US it is quite acceptable nowadays to pay for a bottle of water with your debit card. But even though it’s quite common in this country that probably won’t be the case in others. In fact, credit cards are not widely accepted in many foreign countries. We’re not saying not to bring any credit cards, we’re just saying that you should always have cash on hand to pay for those little things. But in the case that you do run out of cash on your trip, you can always head over to the US Embassy to get some assistance.
10. No Doggie Bags
Restaurants in America serve some pretty big meals and on many occasions we often ask for a doggie bag to take home the leftovers. But if you do that in some foreign countries, you will get a very strange look. In fact, some places will be downright disgusted at your request. So the bottom line is, if you can’t finish her meal just leave it on the plate — because it’s not going back to the hotel with you.