The Easiest Ways To Spot An American Abroad

In the grand scheme of the world, the United States is a small speck on the globe. That’s why Americans travel to other countries to see famous landmarks, see ancient monuments, or relax in a tropical paradise.

It’s great that Americans want to experience other cultures but they haven’t exactly mastered the art of blending in. Americans love to let everyone know where they’re from and if they’re not upfront about it, there’s still something that gives themselves away. From what they wear to how they talk, here are some surefire ways to tell if a tourist is American.

Asking For Ice

Chinese Diet Coca-Cola can and Fountain Bistro glass in Xintiandi area, Huang Pi Road, Shanghai, China
Tim Graham/Getty Images
Tim Graham/Getty Images

When you order a beverage outside of the U.S. and decide to ask for ice with it, you instantly peg yourself as an American. Having an “ice-cold” beverage is the American standard but elsewhere it’s almost unheard of to want to voluntarily water down your drink with some ice.

So get used to enjoying your drink simply “chilled.” Asking for ice just puts you at risk of consuming local water, which isn’t exactly safe depending on where you are.

Wearing Baseball Caps

A girl takes photos on her mobiles phone in Hyde Park wild gardens on 24th May 2017 in London, United Kingdom.
Sam Mellish / In Pictures via Getty Images
Sam Mellish / In Pictures via Getty Images

Baseball-style caps are somewhat trendy in some countries, especially designer ones. But if you’re wearing one that sports the logo of an actual baseball team, there’s no doubt that you’re an American. Baseball is, after all, America’s pastime so it makes sense that Americans have popularized the accessory around the world.

It’s common for most hat-wearing people to bring their favorite baseball caps with them everywhere, especially when they’re traveling abroad.

Wearing White Socks

a man wearing white socks with sandals
@mrsjuliaspencer/Twitter
@mrsjuliaspencer/Twitter

If you only own white socks and you’re inclined to wear them all the way up to your calves, then you’re definitely an American. Apparently, white socks are solely a U.S. trend whereas Europeans, for example, tend to veer toward darker-colored socks—if they choose to wear socks at all.

White socks are even considered offensive to locals in some places, like Paris. So next time you’re packing your bags, you might want to give your socks a second thought.

Having Nice Teeth

two tourists smiling with teeth
@pippipclark/Instagram
@pippipclark/Instagram

If you walk around smiling with your perfectly-straight, white teeth, then you’re probably an American. Having straight, white teeth definitely isn’t a bad thing and if anything, it’s a testament to how much oral hygiene is emphasized in the U.S.

But while growing up with braces and getting your teeth whitened is commonplace in America, the same can’t be said for other countries. Imperfect teeth are normal in places like the U.K. and if you make a point to notice this, you’d be surprised.

Eating On The Go

Fans walk to the match eating chips during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford on February 3, 2018 in Manchester, England.
Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images
Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images

Another way to let everyone around you know you’re from America is to eat while you walk. In other countries, eating is not only a necessity but it is also considered an event. In some places, having a meal is even considered sacred.

But in the U.S., Americans are hard-wired to make eating efficient by eating food on-the-go. Whether you’re getting a Parisian crepe or some Cantonese street food, it would serve you well to take a moment and enjoy it.

Wearing Shorts

Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport is in full swing.
Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images
Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images

It’s a very American thing to wear shorts. For Americans, shorts are pretty much considered vacation-wear but wherever you’re vacationing, wearing shorts regardless of the weather or the location instantly makes others think you’re American.

This is particularly true for grown men since ladies typically get away with a lot more fashion-wise. In other countries, a grown man wearing shorts is the equivalent of if you saw that same man wearing an Avengers backpack in the U.S.

Not Caring About Football

Aleksandr Golovin of Russia scores his team's fifth goal past Abdullah Al Muaiouf of Saudi Arabia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium on June 14, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

When an American thinks of football, they imagine the ‘ol pigskin being tossed around as players tackle each other to the ground. But elsewhere in the world, football is soccer and soccer simply doesn’t hold the same weight as American football in the U.S.

If a football (a.k.a. soccer) match was on TV while you were in another country and you could care less, then it’d be quite obvious to everyone elsewhere you’re from.

Eating At McDonald’s

Customers at McDonald's fast food restaurant in Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt Street.
Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images
Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images

Why would anyone spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on air fare, lodging, and other travel expenses only to end up at a McDonald’s? Surprisingly, many Americans do this. While it does make sense to want something familiar when you’re abroad, it sort of defeats the whole purpose of experiencing another culture.

While it’s common for locals to head to McDonald’s on some occasions, more often than not half of the patrons are from the U.S.

Drinking Too Much

Two drunken men in traditional Bavarian outfits converse beside their passed out comrades at the annual Oktoberfest celebration September 21, 2003 in Munich, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Everyone around the world loves drinking but it’s Americans that often make a fool of themselves while doing so. This is especially true of younger American tourists, who are more than thrilled to be able to drink at 18 in a foreign country.

It’s often those guys who are talking way too loud, partying way too hard and throwing it all up at the end of the night in the street becausethey don’t know how to hold their liquor.

Being Too Friendly To Strangers

Tourists and local people meet near Plaza Mayor, the famous central market place which dates back to the 15th century, in Madrid on May 25, 2010 in Madrid, Spain.
EyesWideOpen/Getty Images
EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

To their credit, Americans have a reputation for being some of the friendliest people in the world. It’s not that people from other countries aren’t friendly either, but it’s the fact that Americans are more inclined to strike up a conversation with a random stranger for almost no reason at all.

Not all Americans are like this, of course, but in general, many people around the globe acknowledge that certain openness is quintessential to Americans.

Tipping The Waiters

Waiter collecting tip money after check been paid in local american restaurant american econimy 7 une 2012
Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images
Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images

Not tipping your waiters is considered in bad taste in America but in other countries, it’s no big deal. In fact, it’s not even expected. It’s not customary to tip waiters in other countries because restaurants in other parts of the world actually pay their workers a living wage, unlike in America, where waiters are paid way less than minimum wage because they’re expected to make more in tips.

Other countries in Europe, for example, are completely baffled by the idea of tips.

Wearing Fanny Packs

hulk hogan wearing a fanny pack
©2006 Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis via Getty Images
©2006 Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis via Getty Images

Nobody in the States wears fanny packs on a regular basis, especially since in the pre-Coachella days fanny packs were decidedly uncool. Still, that never stopped Americans from wearing fanny packs when traveling abroad.

Americans are always warned to be wary of pickpockets, which is probably why they think fanny packs are the only way they aren’t going to lose their valuables. Spot a man digging through the 14 pockets tied at his waist and he’s probably an American.

Clapping For Everything

tourists giving applause
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images

Americans are thought to be pretty enthusiastic people, which is probably why they feel the need to clap for some of the most mundane circumstances while on vacation. It’s necessary to clap for live performances but it makes absolutely no sense to clap when the plane makes a smooth landing or when their food arrives at a restaurant.

Not everything deserves applause but this is something Americans haven’t fully grasped yet.

Only Speaking English

Tourist man browsing a souvenir stand in Cuba.
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

One of the most major things that instantly let people know you’re an American is only speaking English, without the slightest attempt at speaking the local language. Not knowing a language other than English is a uniquely American trait, as other countries around the world often teach English in their schools next to speaking their native languages.

Learning a second language hasn’t been emphasized in the past, which truthfully puts Americans at a huge disadvantage.

Speaking With A Loud Voice

A tourist plays with pigeons outside of Central Park on August 30, 2018 in New York City.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

They say that you know there’s an American in the crowd because you’ll hear them before you see them. Americans haven’t exactly mastered the art of the indoor voice and it’s probably because back in the States, everyone is always trying to talk over each other in a conversation.

Regardless if they’re trying to call out to someone far away or they’re having a conversation with someone right in front of them, Americans tend to speak five-times louder than everyone around them.

Speaking In Slang

speaking in slang-685349104
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Hangout Music Festival
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Hangout Music Festival

If their loud voice or accent doesn’t give them away, one surefire way to tell that someone is American is by the slang that they use. More often than not, most Americans revert to talking like valley girls or surfers stuck in the ’90s, using words like “rad,” “bro,” “sup,” or “totally.”

Everyone else in the world is aware that it’s a very American way of speaking English these days.

Sporting The North Face

a man in a north face jacket on his phone
Christian Vierig/Getty Images
Christian Vierig/Getty Images

If you’re traveling abroad and you see someone with The North Face logo on their person, then they’re probably American. There’s nothing wrong with Americans wearing American brands and in fact, the New York Times reported in 2012 that The North Face accounts for more than a third of all the outdoor-wear Americans own.

But the logo itself is distinct, which doesn’t make it easy to remain low-key if you’re trying to blend into a crowd.

Wearing Graphic Tees

Kieran Read of the New Zealand All Blacks takes in a bit of sightseeing as they walk along Michigan Ave following a pool recovery session on October 27, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
Phil Walter/Getty Images
Phil Walter/Getty Images

Americans have a thing for tacky graphic t-shirts and everyone else in the world knows it. An easy way to spot an American at a global tourist trap is to see if their shirt spells something like “Choose Love” on it in huge, colorful letters.

These shirts don’t always have to have a corny saying either. They often advertise universities, other cities, and other tourist traps that the American wearing them has been to.

Attempting An Accent

A tourist enjoys warm spring weather in Parliament Square on April 8, 2010 in London, England.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Few things make an American sound more American than attempting another person’s accent. Their obsession with accents is endearing to some but can get a little offensive sometimes, especially when an American ends up generalizing a whole entire country into one stereotypical accent.

In their defense, other countries do the same to Americans, thinking everyone from the states either sounds like a hillbilly from the South or a valley girl from California.

Disrespecting Other Cultures

An American mother and her two daughters ride in a donkey drawn-tourist cart in 1967.
Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images
Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images

Growing up in the United States, you become accustomed to a certain way of life which, in the long run, makes you ignorant of other cultures in the world. Americans are often guilty of this and when they finally encounter another country’s customs they are so shocked or amused that they often make a farce of them.

That’s why it would serve an American well to educate themselves on the customs of the country they’re visiting.