Nationality Spotting Abroad

“All generalizations are false, including this one.”
-attributed to Mark Twain, but probably not

This post contains rants and profanity, as well as cynicism and sarcasm.

The other day a lead editor at Yahoo! Travel wrote an article titled “How to Spot an American Anywhere in the World.” You know the type of article; it’s the one that calls out all the stupid America-centric behavior that makes Americans bad travelers. This is almost the same article that has been published elsewhere about once a year since “The Ugly American” stereotype was first coined. It’s also utter bullshit and lazy journalism. Sure, it adds some of the non-offensive behaviors that are somewhat funny, but it’s still a worthless load of shit.

In particular, this article focuses on Americans who travel to Europe and possibly Mexico (but only Cancun). This does not discuss veteran travelers, backpackers, food tourists, adventure travelers, etc. It focuses on a small demographic of American travelers who probably are getting out of the country for the first time and experiencing some slight culture shock.

Crowded Saigon backpacker area is perfect for noisy conversation
Crowded Saigon backpacker area is perfect for noisy conversation

Yes, there are stupid American travelers. I met some when I took a tour of Israel 10 years ago (seriously, your luggage was overweight for a 10-day tour on the way to Israel; I had a duffel bag and a small backpack and everyone thought I was crazy for underpacking).

Damn tourists always get in the way
Damn tourists always get in the way

But let’s move on from the brutish American traveler with his white athletic socks and baseball cap (which is popular among plenty of other travelers) and see how we can spot other nationalities while traveling.

  • Israelis. Why not start with them since I mentioned the trip. These are a bunch of pushy, noisy partiers who treat Southeast Asia like a garbage dump while doing nothing cultural and only looking for pot and ecstasy to continue the rave that only exists in their dirty hostel.
  • British. Let’s go to the former colonies and see what’s wrong in that country without actually knowing a single fucking thing about the local culture. These places would be so much better if they were still under the crown. Also, American beer tastes like shit, but I’ll drink Budweiser or Heineken instead of the local beer.
  • Australians. Shirtless beach bums wandering around with a beer in one hand and a prostitute in another. Loud and obnoxious, but will probably buy you a beer or two to hang around for a while.
  • Germans. Complain about a lack of efficiency anywhere in the world because everywhere should be just like the Fatherland. Also, German beer is the best beer in the world and American microbrews aren’t really beer. Oh, you like drinking stouts and IPAs? No, those are terrible beers; I’ll drink a Heineken.
  • French. Can’t understand why no one around here speaks French. And what is it with this lack of cheese in Asia? Oh yeah, and there was that asshole who stole my Coke in London as I sat outside having lunch. Side story: I met a French bartender in Scotland. I mentioned that I had wanted to visit France. She replied, “Why? There’s a reason I’m here.”
  • Japanese. Seriously, how much time do you need to take a fucking picture!?
At least they don't travel like this
At least they don’t travel like this

As you can see, these stereotypes are nothing more than sweeping bullshit generalizations for short-lived entertainment purposes and internet clickbait. Good job, Yahoo! Lead Editor. I’m sure your university journalism professor would be proud of your journalistic integrity (well, probably proud that you actually have a job anyway…great I made myself feel bad about my career path).

An appropriate reaction to such articles
An appropriate reaction to such articles

Are any of my stereotypes true? Well, sure, I’ve met these people while traveling, but that doesn’t mean it’s everyone. I’ve met wonderful travelers from all over the world — most of them were solo travelers or in small groups.

Why don’t we finally bury this stupid article on travel stereotypes and focus on travel stories that are worthwhile, like who the fuck actually travels with an Ostrich Pillow? Also, I would probably travel with one of those things because they look comfortable and ridiculous — it’d be hilarious to walk through immigration with that on my head (until US agents decide it’s a threat and need to detain me indefinitely).

Are there any other traveler stereotypes you’re tired of hearing? Add your own rant.

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