Or anyone travelling abroad; especially in a place where the language that is spoken is different from those you are fluent in.
- Learn survival phrases in the country you're visiting.
- If you learn to say thank you in whatever the local language is, it will help a lot.
- Talking louder doesn't help them understand.
- Many things taste different abroad.
- Remember, it is their country, after all.
- You are the guest.
- Don't wear berkinstocks (do you mean Birkenstocks?) with shorts.
- There is no Taco Bell in Europe.
- Damn, I'm staying home, then.
- There is always someplace better to eat than McDonald's.
- And worse. McD's offers consistency.
- Especially, if you're in the UK. :)
- Actually, the nices McD's I've been in are in Hong Kong. For one thing, they are among the few restaurants there that have air conditioning--a major issue in a tropical climate. For another, they actually wait on you in HK McDonald?'s. Now it ain't four-star-service, but it's something. The burgers and fries taste much the same as in the US; and they've got quite a few tasty things on the menu for local tastes. One of my favorites is a damn good--and inexpensive--bing nai cha, or iced milk tea, HK style. Great stuff to drink on a hot day (which is almost every day in Hong Kong), and loaded to the gills with caffiene.
- Don't wander into the bicycle lane.
Learn what you can about the people in the part of the world you are visiting; you can learn much if you speak less and stop, look and listen. Realize that (at least in Europe) most people in business speak at least two or three languages. If you have something important to say, you will be understood, even if you don't speak the local language (at least a dozen in Europe alone). Don't spend your money on trinkets, but buy film and take a lot of pictures instead, ride a lot of great trains and see a lot of stuff that has been around for centuries. Realize that wherever you visit, you will find ancestors of "Americans", with wonderful cultures, architecture and a different flavor for what is "life". Appreciate, respect and understand the differences. When you return, you will have nothing but good to say and remember about your journey abroad.
Some practical, rather than political, advice for Americans abroad:
- In cities, learn the mass transit. Walking everywhere in London, Paris, or Madrid will make you cranky. Subways are nice because they're usually well marked, near popular things, and they come with maps that you can understand without too much help (provided you're not in Russia, Tokyo, or some Unicode enabled destination...).
- Seconded. I managed to see London even while unwell courtesy of their Underground daypass
- Give yourself plenty of time to rest. Running around for 4 days straight will exhaust you and you will need a vacation from your vacation. Don't be afraid to spend an afternoon sitting on a park bench in the Rambla people watching.
- In most countries in Western Europe and Asia, you'll find that your ATM cards from the U.S. will work fine, allowing you to withdraw from your bank account in the local currency. It's usually MUCH cheaper to do this than to use an exchange bureau. You can find ATM's in most airports, so in many cases you'll not have to change any currency before leaving the U.S.
- Learn survival phrases in the country you're visiting. Even if you look it up 2 minutes before you need to say it. Learn how to say:
- "Thank you"
- "I'd like a Menu"
- "I'd like a room"
- "I'd like two beers, please"
- Dos cervezas, por favor.
- Deux bieres, s'il vous plait.
- Zwei Bier, bitte.
- Dvoe vodki, pozhalujsta.
- "Please take me to the airport"
- "Does your dog bite?" -- PeterSellers
- "I will not buy this record; it is scratched. -- MontyPython"
- "I wish to return this tobacconist, it is scratched" --ibid.
- Learn the word for "strike" in each country you will visit. (Understanding the paper signs saying "Sciopero Nazionale" on the doors of the Padova train station would have saved me hours of wondering what could be holding up my train.)
- Use e-mail to keep in touch. Internet Cafes are both cheap and plentiful in many areas. Gone are the days of waiting for an hour in the main post-office for a $10 2-minute call home.
- Je suis un espion
- If visiting the UK, brush up on your basic meteorological theory. The weather is a staple of conversation.
And a few special phrases just for 'Merkins.
- "I'm from Canada". :) Better, "I'm from Canada, eh?"
- "But I voted for John Kerry."
- "I'm sorry that our President is an idiot."
- "Ich bin traurig, dass unser Praesident ein Idiot ist."
In cities, learn the mass transit.
However, be prepared with an alternative in case of labor unrest. The Underground in particular is prone to trouble as I understand.
I totally agree... In the Tube and Bus strike of London in March of 1989 caused me to take a private bus from Heathrow to Central London and then walk several miles to Fulham Broadway with my suitcase.
Er. That was 13 years ago - things do change! The Underground isn't particularly prone to strikes. Right now, we've got a bit of a flurry of labour unrest on the normal trains, but even that's unusual now.
13 years ago? It seemed like only yesterday. The heat, the traffic, the grime. It seemed more like Tijuana in August than London in March. It was quite traumatic... If I wasn't so poor I would've opted for a cab.
When flying to London (or certain other popular destinations) and expecting to catch a train from the airport, don't be fobbed off with advice that you can buy your ticket on arrival - you would probably have to join a long queue for your ticket and you may end up paying too much as well, since you won't have time to get the best advice and some ticket types must be purchased in advance (or outside the country) anyway.
I would also add that in many places, they are quite friendly to Americans. I had a long and lively political discussion with a Welshman about the 1988 American Presidential elections. Don't let the apparent anti-US spirit of this Wiki population sway you - just remember that you are a guest, and act accordingly.
- In general, it seems that anti-US rabble-rousers in foreign lands get a disproporitionate amount of coverage in the US media (both major political factions in the US find the "foreigners hate us" meme to be occasionally advantageous to their cause); just as clueless arrogant Yankees likely are found in greater proportion in media reports than in reality. While my travels abroad aren't as extensive as some, I've never had any difficulty with locals in several trips to Canada, Europe, and Asia. ''See NonAmericanCulturalAssumptions regarding the term Yankees."
- We love "Americans" the lovely individuals. We just hate "America" the collective group of ignorant jerks ;) Seriously, I think any American traveling abroad for pleasure is already less likely to conform to the ignorant boob stereotype. Not to say I don't have some killer "ugly American" stories, but rednecks are, sadly, an international phenomenon, not just from the states.
If country Whatever had the population and economic advantage of America the author of this page would have called it "Advice For Whatevers Traveling Abroad". People who see from the comfort of their home town confused tourists from any country gaping about on the corner with maps in their hands seeking a bit of familiarity amongst the fearful din and call them stupid, loud and boorish are probably themselves the same but lack empathy to boot. -- RodneyRyan?
When Visiting the UK...
- Have you tried the famous echo in the reading room of the British Museum?
- Particularly cool if you try one of those compressed air horns heard at football games.
- Real football, not the sissy British game with the round ball.
- Zebra parking spaces can be found everywhere.
- These are often marked with lit signs telling people not to walk on your car.
- Be sure to drive your rental through the London Congestion Zone. Don't worry about paying; nobody will notice.
- All London brothels display a blue lamp.
- The helpful young man/woman at the reception desk wears a clean white shirt with black epaulettes.
- Ask to be strip-searched. You'll find it quite enjoyable.
- Always shake hands with all the passengers when entering a railway compartment.
- Just like you do when entering a lavatory.
- It's considered a funny joke in London to hold up your briefcase and sing the praises of Sinn Fein. Be sure you pronounce it right, otherwise they won't get the joke.
- There's a nice, exclusive pub at #10 Downing Street--just walk right in. The password to get past the front desk is "Bloody Blair, I'm gonna teach 'im a lesson."
- If you're stopped by the porters at the door, the pass phrase is "I've got a bomb!"
- Driving on the left-hand side of the road only applies to UK nationals. Foreigners should drive on the right.
- If you need to cross the street on foot, just do so. British motorists are more than happy to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, and are certain to drive through crowded streets slowly enough to avoid any possible accident.
- The "fanny" isn't what you think it is.
- Make sure you tell the locals, especially in the city of Manchester, that you think it's "swell" that Malcolm Glazer now owns a certain British soccer team.
- Also mention that you don't see why the "hand of God" goal is such a big deal--referees blow calls all the time.
- If the bartender in a pub serves you warm beer (which often happens to tourists), no matter. Simply spit it out onto the floor, slam the glass (which will be a bigger pint than you're used to) onto the bar, and tell the barkeep "Hey, Nigel! Bring me a bloody cold one, willya?"
- When the bartender complies, be sure to thank him by calling him a "sodding git". This is British slang for a really swell guy, and is considered high praise.
- Don't assume that just because it's an English-speaking country that you will understand what the people are saying.
- Plan on being confused your first day while growing accustomed to the accent(s) and rapidity of speech.
- Don't assume you know what words and phrases mean. For example, "Are you okay?" means "What can I get for you?" The correct response is not "Yes, I'm fine, thank you."
- Sign up for a "home stay" travel plan, and stay in people's homes as you explore their country.
- Eat soda bread. It's yummy.
- Keep your eyes peeled for Asian restaurants. The food might not be terrific (Indian is good), but your body will thank you for the change from meat, potatoes, carrots, butter, parsley, and soda bread. (This food advice is from 1996.)