11 Ways To Spot An American Abroad

God created war so that Americans would learn geography.

Mark Twain

As an American who has lived abroad and traveled to over 20 different countries, I am acutely aware of other Americans when I travel. We’re known worldwide for our goofy outfits, loud exclamations, and our inability to speak other languages.

Luckily, I’m not one of those people. Unfortunately, that makes me a minority. Whenever I travel, I cringe a little bit to see my fellow patriots acting so….American. Here’s 11 fool proof ways to spot an American abroad. Yes, I’ve seen all of these. Yes, I’ve even seen multiple people embody ALL of these. *cringe*

Baseball Caps

I’m not sure where this obsession started but it is probably the most mild on the list. Americans wear baseball caps everywhere and I mean everywhere. To dinner, to a fancy event (sometimes), site seeing, you name it.

Sneakers, Regardless of the Occasion

Americans like to be comfy. Who cares if they have cute shoes that they’ve walked 500 miles in at home. Abroad something switches in their brains and they only pack flip flops and that obnoxiously old and battered pair of sneakers. Bonus points if they are white.

Socks With Sandals

This fashion faux pas is unfortunately here to stay. I’m not sure why socks that make you slip and slide in your shoes like you are wearing a stick of butter on your feet ever seemed like a good idea but it happened and keeps on happening.

Talking Loudly

This isn’t uniquely American but oh man do we do it well. A few of my English friends said they could always tell when an American was 10 blocks away because they could hear them talking about nothing at the top of their lungs. Why do Americans yell? To hide the uncertainty? No idea. Shhh….

Professional Cameras

I’m guilty of this to an extent. Travel photography is something of a specialty and a passion of mine. I never go abroad without my DSLR but that’s where I draw the line. I never have more than one and I never take pictures of absolutely everything. Americans seem to take pictures constantly and I’m never sure how they aim as they are spinning around and clicking aimlessly.

Floppy Hats

They’re practical. I get it. They’re also hideous. If they make supermodels look goofy they aren’t doing the rest of us any favors either. I’m not talking Kentucky Derby floppy hats. I’m talking gilly suit fishing hat that sort of tried to be a sombrero but decided it needed a neck flap cape to help battle the sun type of floppy hat. Just say no friends.

Fanny Packs

Another practical item. My fashion advice is: if it makes you have a fupa, you might want to reconsider. Now I love me a joke fanny pack but Americans wear them with the seriousness of a funeral. The 80’s and 90’s called. They want their awkward back.

Obnoxious Shirts

I’m guilty of this to an extent. I love me a weird print. Give me a shirt that has artsy looking lobsters and I’ll wear it all day long as long as the shirt is flattering in a way I like.

Give an American a hawaiian shirt and they will make sure it’s 2 sizes too big everywhere except their gut and wear it to a fancy dinner… with their socks and sandals and fanny pack.

Side note… there’s a trend (mostly in the South) of younger/college-aged women wearing boxy shirts that are 3 sizes too big. So big you can’t tell if they’re wearing shorts. It’s weird and they now do it while traveling. ARE YOU WEARING SHORTS OR NOT? I honestly can’t tell and it’s kept me up at night.

Excessive Luggage

Yes Sharon I need 42 carry on items for the plane. What if we sit on the tarmac for an extra hour? Don’t complain to me when you’re bored and I’ve got 20 books, 5 crosswords, 3 pencils, an entirely new outfit, every toiletry known to man, and items I forgot I packed. I NEED them.

John don’t be silly. I need an entire suitcase for my shoes. My makeup needs to be separated from my perfumes and how can I travel without my entire closet? Honestly.

Actual conversations I’ve overheard…I’ve had friends visit me abroad for a week and they brought 3 different suitcases…all of which we both could lay down in together…WHY do you want to carry that much America? You don’t. I promise.

Inability To Speak Other Languages

I hate this. Americans will go to the farthest place from home they can find and grumpily yell about how no one speaks their language. Be respectful. Learn a few phrases of another culture’s language. It will make your travel experience better in every sense. You won’t lose your identity. You will enhance it.

Farmers Tans

Arguably our most endearing trait. I never fail to giggle when I see a farmer’s tan. Pasty white bodies, lobster red arms, lobster red circles or V’s circling our necks. Sock tans, and the ever popular, short’s tans. In certain lighting you could almost go naked and people would think you have a nice white outfit on…almost. *Please don’t try this at home or abroad*

Which Was Your Favorite?

Photo of me and my an in France to prove that I’m not the typical American when I travel!

Hopefully these made you guys giggle a little bit. After a mentally draining few days at work I needed to make myself laugh and tried to share that nugget with everyone else. Let me know which ones you guys liked best!


4 thoughts on “11 Ways To Spot An American Abroad

  1. I think I’m only guilty of one: overpacking. The loud talking and wondering why people don’t speak English make me the craziest. I will say that many years ago while punting down the River Cam in Cambridge, some Italians were in the running for “Loudest & Most Obnoxious Tourists.” 😉


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