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11 Sins American Tourists Commit Abroad

Don't be a stereotype.

It's a late-summer ritual almost as old as time itself: Americans go on European vacations and make fools of themselves. Chalk it up to American confidence (or obliviousness), but the image of the "ugly American" is very much alive thanks to plenty of uncool behavior. But if you want to avoid being regarded askance, it's pretty easy, requiring just a little bit of research and a good amount of chill. These are 11 sins American tourists commit abroad, according to a recent report in the New York Times.

Expecting Ice Water


In America, it comes right when you sit down. But at restaurants in Europe, being served ice water isn't done. "Water was something we consistently had to request," said TikTok creator Chloe Madison, reporting that when she did on her European vacation, it was "just a few cubes."

Asking Personal Questions


Making small talk with people you don't know and asking them personal questions is common in America but can make Europeans uncomfortable. If you must, proceed with caution. 

Being Shocked About Smoking


America's no-smoking laws haven't gone intercontinental. Don't be surprised that many Europeans still smoke in cafes and other public places. 

Being Oblivious


Not learning basic customs of a locality is another common American travel sin. Do a little research before you depart. 

Being Loud


Yes, the stereotype of the noisy American really is truth to many Europeans, based on countless in-person experiences.

Expecting Iced Coffee


"If you order iced coffee at a local shop, it'll look more like a Greek frappé or a caffé freddo. In some places, it's simply not an option unless there happens to be an American coffee chain." 

Expecting Air Conditioning


Only one-fifth of European homes have air conditioning, compared to 90% of American ones. Many buildings in Europe were built to keep cool, including features like shutters. Clothes dryers are also rare, a victim of energy shortages.

Expecting Wi-Fi


In the US, seemingly every inn and Airbnb offers internet access. The same isn't true in the historic hotels of Europe. If you must have Wi-Fi, do your research before making a reservation. 

Assuming Everyone Speaks English


Many Europeans who live in countries where English isn't the primary language do speak English; however, it's a good idea to know a few basic conversational phrases in the native tongue. 



In many European restaurants, tips are added to a restaurant's service charge. Leaving cash behind will be confusing and unnecessary. It's a good idea to know before you go. 

Dressing Down


The American summer uniform of shorts and flip-flops might seem unclassy in Europe. "Here in Italy, people dress up to take the garbage down the street," Stefano Lodi, general manager of the Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence, joked to the Times. "You wouldn't dare put on flip-flops." Lodi says he turns away people who arrive at the hotel's upscale restaurant in shorts. "They say, 'It's very hot; you should have told me,' and we say: 'Well, yes, we told you.'"

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