20 Ways You Can Spot An American Tourist From A Mile Away

When Joe and I went to Austria in 2016, we stayed at the Goldener Hirsch, in Salzburg. The most amazing thing happened when we arrived to check-in. We got up to the front desk and saw that the clerk was on the phone. So we quietly waited. He saw us approach and although he had been speaking German on the phone, he momentarily stopped the conversation to tell us in English he’d be right with us.

He told us in English. How did he know? Is it really that obvious? The bellhops had already taken our luggage and we had no telltale signs of being Americans – not even a baseball cap! 😉 But yeah, it seems that we’re pretty easy to pinpoint.

A similar topic was brought up on Reddit a while back; “Besides their accent, what’s one way you know a tourist is American?” The answers were very interesting:

These aren’t all the answers – there were actually nearly 19,000 replies. But there are some highlights…

We wait to be seated at a restaurant

When visiting Paris my wife and I learned they don’t seat you at restaurants. You just walk in and sit down at an available table. We figured it out after standing around at the entrance a few times. Then we started noticing other American tourists doing the same.
dcabines

We’re impressed by old things

Girlfriend used to work on a farm and an estate in the U.K. and would often have Americans in awe of the old buildings. One once said, “Some of these buildings are older than my country.”
curved_oracle

We talk very loudly

While in Korea, I was casually talking to a friend on the bus in a regular speaking voice. Not even a minute later, the lady in front of us turns around in her seat and says very casually, “please calm down.” I guess American volume is noticeably louder.
jrlags

How long or how far?

I don’t have much experience in foreign countries as an American but I heard we “measure” distances in time. (Ex. It is 4 miles to our destination vs It takes 7 minutes to our destination.)
plapaplatypus

Silly us – we ask where the restrooms are

I mean, obviously the accent was then heard too but in my little village in Scotland I was in the pub and a woman politely asked the barman where the restrooms were. He didn’t know what she was on about and then it obviously clicked. “Ye mean the toilet? Aye hen it’s joost back ‘err.”
MogadonMandy

The ketchup thing

They ask for ketchup.
sirZofSwagger

We’re very specific about where we live

When they introduce themselves they never say they’re from America. Mostly just the state/city they’re from.
hazily

We expect stores to be open as late as they are at home

They’re looking for a store open at like 11 pm. Even if in most European countries stores close at like 7-8 pm.
millennium-popsicle

We’re superficially friendly

Saying “Hi, how are you?” to the barista, servers, retail workers. My country doesn’t quite have that culture so I find it really sweet.
tomayto_tomaahto

We like our drinks COLD

Extra ice in their drinks.
irishamerican

We are confident

I have never seen someone walk so confidently in the wrong direction like an American can.
olaolie

The absolute fearlessness of asking anyone on the street about anything. I don’t mean this negatively, I’m just saying I’ve seen Americans approach people both in my home country and abroad starting conversations with them that I wouldn’t dream of because they look shady or just plain scary.
Example, I was in Newcastle and I see a bald-headed skinny man with face tattoos and a tracksuit suddenly asked, “Hey bud, d’ya know where…” It’s quite admirable.
AthleticallyLazy

Our love affair with peanut butter

It sounds very weird, but everyone who buys peanut butter where I work turns out to be American.
Per_The_Pear

We’re well trained

I hear that we Americans can easily be spotted in the airport by the fact usually were use to taking off our shoes in TSA
R3ddspider

We smile a lot

When I went to Italy with a friend, I couldn’t figure out why everyone greeted me in English before I said a word. I don’t wear running shoes outside of the gym, I dress pretty posh, I can’t remember the last time I owned a baseball cap, and I try to have a basic grasp on the local language. How can they tell I’m American? My friend told me, “It’s because you’re smiling at them.”
thewidowgorey

Went to Russia once, and they knew because I smiled too much
Bangbangsmashsmash

Our politeness gives us away

Whenever I hear someone say “ma’am” I know they’re American.  Like one time I was in Lidls and there was an American family asking someone who worked there if they sold “cell phones” and when the woman said they didn’t they were all “oh okay, thank you for your time ma’am! Have a great day!” which is much more cheery than the average Scot.
foundcosy

Tipping

Americans will try to tip everyone, even in countries where tipping isn’t a thing/is considered a serious insult.

lukan2

Our shoes (I suspect this was one of our giveaways in Salzburg)

I walked into a museum in Germany and the women selling tickets greeted us in English. We were dressed conservatively and hadn’t said a word, yet she knew. I asked her how, and she said, “it’s your shoes.” Indeed, I was wearing running shoes.
questfor17

We’re outspoken

At my local aquarium the other day I heard a lady very loudly say, “Have the penguins gone to bed? Can we not see them? Y’all the penguins have gone to bed y’all missed em.”
Rangersgers

Just look in the mirror for this one

Baseball caps, University spirit wear, cargo shorts, free t-shirts from events with ads and text all over them, and for the older Americans they always seem to just kinda stand in the middle of everything looking around.
Zack1018

Some of us fit the stereotype (although many don’t)

I taught English in Japan. One of the ways we got the students to speak was to make them guess where we were from because they had a hard time differentiating between American, British, Aussie, etc. accents. After a year, none of them ever guessed I was American so I asked them why: “Americans are fat and loud. You’re small and quiet!”
gaminette

This one is kind of specific, but kind of funny. And yeah, probably true LOL!

I was at a beach where music was playing and “Sweet Caroline” came on. I told my sister (we are both Hispanic, but I live in the US): “Hey, if you are wondering who here is from the US, you are about to find out.” 10 seconds later: PA PA PAAAAAA
ardyndidnothingwrong

*** Many thanks to Barb S. for her help with this topic!

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually about 3 or 4 times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

7 thoughts on “20 Ways You Can Spot An American Tourist From A Mile Away”

  1. Shoes were mentioned. Another way are facial features and body habitus. One can look at someone and often tell “this person is Korean, Japanese, mainland Chinese (Chinese from Taiwan and Hong Kong can be very hard to distinguish), French, Italian, Russian, etc” Sorry, Greeks don’t look like Irish.

    The way clothes fit also is a sign

  2. I actually am quite proud of myself when I’m traveling overseas and someone starts talking to me in their own language and not English.

  3. Any idea how the front desk person at your hotel knew? Did you ask? Another thing we do is ask questions that may be impolite. I do it too sometimes.

  4. I have to give dittoes to the shoe thing. When I was an exchange student, the way i could always pick out the American students in a crowd was their white leather sneakers.

    Clothes in general too, because Americans tend to wear baggier, less fitted clothes.

  5. Once someone asked me for directions in French and it was not a French speaking country. I gave them the correct directions even though I was also a tourist in a foreign country.

Leave a Reply