7 Signs You’re the Obnoxious American Tourist

Venice lagoon resized

The Scene.

Surrounded by ferry boats and private water taxis, a middle-aged woman (we’ll refer to her as OW= obnoxious-woman) stood dazed and confused on the docks of Marco Polo Airport, in Venice Italy.

As “OW” proceeded to drag her rolling suitcases down the walkway she approached a boat operator.” I need someone to tell me which boat will take me to Hotel X?” she says. The boat operator, appearing confused himself, replied “Non capisco (I don’t understand)?” After several sighs of frustration, she repeated the question.  This time raising her voice about 2 octaves higher she yells “You mean to tell me, there’s no one around this port that speaks English? This is ridiculous!”

In my inside voice I say: “No lady you’re an idiot. Obviously we’re about 4,000 miles away from native English speakers.”

As she looked at him in total disgust, he walked away shaking his head and mumbling something not so nice in Italian.

Embarrassed by the behavior of a woman clearly way over 18 years old, I inched further away to distance myself from being considered another “obnoxious American tourist.”

The Vibe.

Moments later, I stepped down into my window seat of the water taxi and continued to watch OW walking aimlessly around the dock.

As the boat’s engine blasted off and we headed towards the Venetian Lagoon, the boat operator turned up the volume on his radio to Jay Z’s hit song “Can I Get A…” Bopping his head and lip synching the lyrics as if he was performing right next to Jay on stage.

SMDH. “Music unites us all.” Admittedly, I was overcome with laughter. Certainly he understood some English.

I sometimes wonder if “OW” had attempted to greet the boat operator with a smile and speak in Italian–”Mi dispiace di non parlare italian” would she have sat right next to me, sailing her way into the magical city of Venice?

Truth Hurts.

Don’t get me wrong. I know obnoxious travelers are from all over the world. But on many occasions, while traveling overseas, I’ve witnessed this repulsive behavior from my fellow American travelers, one too many times.

Sure, it’s quite possible that one bad tourist ruined it for everyone. But don’t be “that” traveler.

When you travel abroad, don’t think everyone strives for the American way of life. Or worse turn your nose up because you don’t think the “people” move fast enough.

And, absolutely, under no circumstances should you travel to a destination without doing research about the culture first. Then, learn the basic greetings in the country’s native language: Hello. Goodbye. Please. And Thank you.

So, could you be an obnoxious tourist? Here are 10 signs to check your obnoxi-o-meter:”  

  1. You criticize cultural differences
  2. You think the US dollar should be accepted anywhere in the world
  3. You assume and expect that everyone speaks English
  4. You think America is the best at everything (C’mon there’s a lot of things we suck at!)
  5. You ignore the dress code in religious areas
  6. You complain about the country standards: lack of air condition, small room-size, food preparation etc.,
  7. You talk down to non-english speakers

I’m sure, at one point we’ve all been guilty of at least one or two of these signs. But if you check 3 or more signs. I think you need to crawl under the rock you call home. And travel through the eyes of others.

What do you think? What obnoxious behavior have you observed on travel? Do you have any signs to add to this list?

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