In the early 19th century, citizens of the infant United States who traveled to Europe were routinely mocked as rubes and rustics lacking all sense of decorum and sophistication.
Not much has changed in 200 years. And while there is undoubtedly a lot of envy-fed nastiness directed at Americans by citizens of other countries, our reputation as boorish and insensitive travelers isn’t without basis.
I’m not suggesting Americans are the worst visitors a country could have. Our soccer fans don’t start riots in foreign cities – at least not yet. But some of us could use a refresh in travel etiquette.
Check out these recent cringe-worthy incidents.
Ruining the ruins. Two California women were arrested and fined for “aggravated damage” when they were caught carving their names into Rome’s Colosseum. The duo was apprehended while taking selfies of themselves alongside their act of vandalism. Does anyone think these ladies would have done the same thing to the Washington Monument?
Disrespecting the faith. While visiting Thailand, two American men thought it would be hysterical to moon a sacred religious statue. Almost before they had their pants up, the duo was charged with indecent exposure, deported and barred from re-entering the country.
Hassling the help. Spanish police arrested an American woman for disorderly conduct after she verbally assaulted a ticket taker at a cathedral for – here it comes – not speaking English.
Going ape. Back to Thailand, where earlier this year a US citizen was arrest after he stripped naked at an airport, screamed at staffers, and threw his feces at them. This great American later blamed his behavior on having taken too much Viagra.
Now, I’m sure you are the most considerate of visitors when traveling abroad. But you may have a friend who is less elegant while globetrotting. You would be doing America a favor by reminding your friend that when visiting foreign countries, we Americans are subject to all local law and regulations. You can learn more about these rules from the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
More importantly, we are subject to the rules of common decency, wherever we travel. So, do unto others as you would have them do when visiting your home, the United States.