Fighting the Stigma of the “Stupid” American Tourist

Like it or not, Americans have made a reputation for themselves overseas. Stupid, ignorant, or downright lazy are descriptions applied to American travelers from overseas citizens. The stereotype has become so prevalent that even President Obama addressed the issue in a early-2009 visit to Istanbul. CNN article “Tourists have to try to combat the ‘ugly American’” reports Obama as saying,

“Sometimes [stereotypes] suggest that America has become selfish and crass, or that we don’t care about the world beyond us. And I’m here to tell you that that’s not the country that I know and it’s not the country that I love.”  

Even with the president’s good word, Americans have a lot to do to overcome this overseas stereotype. Travel experts Chris Baker and Beth Whitman give 5 handy tips for traveling abroad in the CNN article: 

  • 1) Research the area and its culture before you travel to your destination. Read guidebooks to learn about the region. 
  • 2) Learn some basic words in the language of the region you are traveling to. Don’t expect everyone to speak English.
  • 3) Travel with a desire to experience the local cuisine. Don’t expect to get a hamburger. 
  • 4) Don’t flash around money or expensive items like cell phones and cameras. 
  • 5) Try to really experience the culture. You are less likely to offend if you understand.
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