The 8 Ways Americans Are Spotted As Tourists In Other Countries Before They Even Speak

From the shoes you wear to the volume you speak, it's apparently easy to spot an American "in the wild."

American tourist in another country Anastasia Collection, Alliance Images / CanvaPro

Americans tend to get a bad rap for their traveling habits, most often for stereotypes from abroad that bleed into tourist horror stories. Being obnoxious in public, expecting certain cuisines, not speaking the native language — surely this isn’t the case for every American abroad. Still, it’d be ignorant to pretend it’s not at least a few.

But, as many Reddit posters from around the world admitted on a thread, there’s more to spotting an American tourist “in the wild” than the annoying stereotypes above.


Here are 8 ways Americans are spotted as tourists before they even speak:

1. Trying to tip baristas, restaurant staff, or other service workers

Despite the constant discourse and expectations on tipping in the United States, many other countries don’t encourage or even value tipping. Whether it’s a cafe or a sit-down restaurant, there’s no expectation for you to give a server or barista extra financial contribution — in fact, some consider it offensive. 

The roots of our tipping culture are inherently controversial. The entire ritual of “tipping” was created to combat insufficient wages for marginalized communities in the workforce. It’s part of why other cultures, like Japan and China, find tipping offensive. They take pride in the work they do and have a sufficient salary not to require tips. 


So when you're traveling abroad, you're likely to get strange looks at restaurants (and out yourself as an American) if you leave money on the table or try to refuse “getting change.” 

RELATED: Russian Woman Living In the US Reveals The American Foods She Does Not Understand

2. Wearing sneakers or ‘running shoes’ with ‘formal’ attire

While Americans tend to get ridiculed for their “khaki shorts & baseball hat” uniform, many Reddit posters pointed to another trend that makes it easy to spot American tourists in other countries — running shoes. Many posters from abroad mention that Americans often wear sneakers, whether with a suit, a sundress, or even a pair of jeans and a blouse.

“I walked into a museum in Germany, and the woman selling tickets greeted us in English. We were dressed conservatively and hadn’t said a word yet; she just knew,” one person wrote. “I asked her how, and she said, ‘It’s your shoes’ ... I was indeed wearing running shoes.”


Of course, many tourists prefer comfort over fashion, especially when exploring new cities. However, if you’re trying to go undercover as a local, maybe opt for a loafer or functional sandal instead. That goes for all clothing—many other countries don't appreciate athleisure quite like America.

3. Searching for grocery or convenience stores after dusk

One of the biggest differences between European countries and the United States is work culture. Not only are working hours, careers, and “hustle culture” more prioritized in the U.S., but it’s part of our culture to value it as much as family, personal time, and hobbies.

“[Americans] are always looking for a store open at like 11 p.m.," one user wrote. "Even if most European countries' stores close around 7 to 8 p.m.”


European countries tend to provide more room for personal freedom and life — taking breaks from work in the middle of the day to allow employees to see their families and closing shops and stores in the late afternoon. Although there’s been pushback from locals in recent years, there’s still nowhere near as much accessibility as Americans tend to have with our 24/7 stores.

We live in an over-consumerist culture, where everyone seeks convenience over connection and productivity over happiness. This is why we can basically get whatever we want in seconds, and it's something to keep in mind when you’re traveling outside the country.

RELATED: 4 Reasons Why Americans May Be Feeling Lonelier Than People In Other Countries

4. Smiling, greeting, and exchanging ‘pleasantries’ with service workers

“When I went to Italy with a friend, I couldn’t figure out why everyone greeted me in English before I said a word,” one person added on the Reddit forum. “I don’t wear running shoes outside the gym; I dress pretty posh … I try to have a basic grasp on the language. My friend told me it’s because I was smiling at them.”

@fabgirl33 It is what it is y’all it’s just a different culture 🙈😂 #culture #switzerland #germany #american #tourist #fyp #travel ♬ Storytelling - Adriel

In addition to smiling and being generally pleasant towards service workers, many Reddit users admitted Americans are easy to spot because of their conversations. Not only are they stereotypically louder than others, but they often engage in conversation in places like on the train, where, in many cultures, you’re just expected to be quiet.

“Everybody likes it quiet,” @fabgirl33 said of culture in Germany and surrounding countries like Austria and Switzerland. “It’s not just that they are being loud, but people don’t like it. When you’re a person of color and you’re being a little bit louder … oh boy, it’s so much worse.”

“I took my friend from New Zealand to a McDonald’s drive-thru, and the server said, ‘Hi, my name is [blank], how can I help you?’ My friend thought it was so great,” a commenter added. “She said it was like they were becoming friends… [Their] country doesn’t have quite the same culture, so [they] found it very sweet.”


5. Asking strangers for directions or sparking conversations in the street

“The absolute fearlessness of asking anyone on the street for anything,” another person added. “I don’t mean this negatively; I’m just saying that I’ve seen Americans start conversations in my home country and abroad that I’d never dream of … it’s quite admirable.”

While it might be seen as purely respectful to spark conversation with others in public in the United States, in other countries, it’s labeled as “strange.”

“The thing people don’t do in other countries: ‘Talking about and sharing your life with complete strangers … I have met quite a few Americans, and it seems the norm that you share and engage with strangers in public. The bus, train, parks, etc. In Denmark, you’d be a freak if you did that,” A Forbes article on American tourists added.

RELATED: American Woman Shares The 4 Reasons Why Moving Abroad Is 'Worth It'


6. Talking in a considerably louder tone of voice in public spaces

In a culture that celebrates extrovertedness, assertiveness, and individualism, it’s no wonder Americans have developed a louder tone of voice than those in other countries. It’s the stereotypical picture of American tourists — loud, obnoxious, and the first to disturb the peace in public spaces.

While it might be an overused critique, it’s not any less true, especially to the people who’ve passionately added to this Reddit thread. 

@madame.tartempion Just please try to take it down a frw notches on the volume scale. 🙏 s’il vous plait and merci beaucoup. #americansabroad #americansinparis #visitingparis ♬ original sound - madame tartempion

“While in Korea, I was casually talking to a friend on the bus in a regular speaking voice,” one person added. “Not even a minute later, the lady in front of us turns around in her seat and says very casually, ‘Please calm down.’ I guess American volume is noticeably louder.”


Despite a majority of our population struggling with self-esteem and confidence, our culture truly prioritizes it in every avenue of our lives. From work to school to relationships, the bolder you can be the better.

7. They’re in awe of old things — from architecture to historical sites

“Reminds me of that old saying,” one commenter wrote. “Americans think a hundred years is a long time. Europeans think a hundred miles is a long way.”

Many commenters pointed out that Americans tend to “gawk” over old architecture, buildings, and monuments, which have just become a part of daily life in many countries abroad. While our oldest monuments only go back several hundred years, other countries boast some of the oldest and most renowned structures in history.


From religious monuments and figures to architecture from centuries ago, it’s no wonder Americans are in awe of structures older than their own country. But Europeans on their way to work see it every day and are somewhat justified in finding the loud spectacle of “photographers” annoying.

American tourists in Spain taking a selfie Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock

8. They’re often frantically searching for public trash cans

“If you see an American in Japan, they will frantically look for public trash cans,” another person wrote. “The absence of a trash receptacle is something [unheard of] in the U.S."


Despite the clear historical relevance of the “missing trash cans” in countries like Japan, many tourists aren’t educated on why they’re not there. They’ll only complain about having to hold onto their trash. Again, the prioritization of personal convenience and urgency isn’t something shared between cultures, and it will likely broadcast to others that there is an American among them.

RELATED: British Woman Living In The US Shares American Foods That Are Banned In The UK — 'They're Poisoning This Country'

Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.