Travel: Ugly Tourists make me Uncomfortable

Today is the third day of May with the Blog Every Day in May challenge.  
Feel free to join in and if you catch this anytime through out the month feel free to just jump right in.  

Day 3, Friday: Things that make you uncomfortable

Traveling with or being around the ‘Ugly Tourist’ makes me very much uncomfortable.  Given that I stand out already with an American accent if you are an offender from the US of A, I will want to put as much distance between us as possible.  Coincidentally I have movstly lived in highly touristy areas giving me plenty of run ins with the Ugly Tourist.  While some can be outrageously obnoxious I have realized others are just ignorant to traveling outside of your country.  You cannot correct what you do not know to be wrong. Perhaps this will be enlightening to some to help you in your upcoming travels abroad. For the rest of you who want to run for the hills when getting too close to these un-savvy travelers, feel free to comment below with your own stories.  

I Feel Uncomfortable by Ugly Tourists Who…
…Will Not Try New Foods. 
They are the ones you find eating at well known fast food franchises instead of local cuisine. Or who ask for traditional dishes from their home country whether or not it is on the menu.  Personally for me to experience a culture you have to experience their food.  We had the opportunity to live in Hawaii for a few years which is rich in a variety of Asian restaurants. My sons still have a great love for dim sum, pho, pancit, and sushi to name a few.  However, we had people visit us who would not even allow us to take them to a restaurant that did not serve ‘American food’ (their quote not mine).  I grew up in a family that moved and traveled in Europe through out my childhood. We took a trip to Poland and ordered blindly off a menu and ate whatever came. I highly suggest putting the experience over the comfort because you can always eat at home what you would eat normally. 
…Who Expect Different Portion Sizes.
This may be more geared towards the ‘Ugly Americans’ opposed to tourists from other nations. It is no secret that many Americans are overweight and it is brought up in conversation with me by people here in the UK.  Food portions outside of America in other countries can be much smaller. Even when it comes to drinks you have to remember glass sizes will be smaller and without refills. If you are still hungry or still thirsty you can always order more. 
…Are Not Modest.
Many places that tourists go to visit when on vacation include places of worship.  However not all tourists are familiar with the modesty rules to go inside these places.  If you are female you more than likely will not be admitted inside if you are wearing short skirts or shorts and if your shoulders are not covered.  Some places also may request that the female covers her head with a shawl.  Last year in a  church in Italy I lost count of how many times our guide had to interrupt himself to stop a female tourist from coming inside due to modesty issues.  The best thing to do is to plan your trip and then dress accordingly to the day.  Some places will provide shawls that you can use to cover your shoulders, but you should not rely on that assumption. 
…Dress Like A  Slob.
Obvious to most you should really wear clean clothes.  However you really can stick out as a tourist by looking like a slob in context to the country you are visiting.  If you are traveling to Europe the rule of thumb is to wear well tailored clothes and only wear tennis shoes if you are going to the gym. That does not mean you have to wear a suit when on vacation. Just take a look online of what the locals wear in the country and dress to impress.  As a traveler you only get a first impression by locals when interacting in the country.  In this case appearances do mean something. 
…Brings Their Obnoxious Attitudes.
I dislike to point fingers but when I found out that the cast of the Jersey Shore was going to Italy I immediately cringed.  Having grown up in Italy twice I never met anyone who acted and spoke the way the Jersey Shore cast does, despite their Italian heritage.  Know that you are a guest in the host country and you will be watched and judged accordingly.  You are representing your whole country back home when abroad so be the best representation of it.  Dial down the personality as you resepect the country you are visiting.
…Do No Respect A Country’s History.
Those tourists who see things and then make remarks about how they have ‘old thing’s back home too. Or who bring up the past history and make very rude remarks or questions to the locals.  Tread carefully and do not compare your home country to the host country.  It is very beneficial to read up about the country before you travel.  It will give you a new found respect and make you more informed about the country instead of only knowing about the beach or party scene of that location.
…Feels Entitled In Their Host Country.
I remember being on my honeymoon in Cozumel, Mexico and it was my husband’s first time out of the United States and Canada.  The US Coast Guard was there and we unfortunately kept running into them at the hotel or out in town. I say unfortunately because they were the young naive tourist type who spoke and acted very loudly.  We remember one such loud conversation they had with the hotel concierge about not getting the right room on the argument of ‘but WE are the US Coast Guard!’. 
…Criticizes Cultural Differences And Customs as Strange.
Remember that you are a guest.  People will watch and listen to you more carefully because of that fact.  Especially if you are in a group.  The slight comments you make when you dont understand the culture or find something strange, keep to the hotel room. You will not only be offending people and the country but coming across as very rude.  Just because something is different does not make it wrong.
…Speak Loudly To Non English Speaking People In English.
It does not matter how loud you talk or how loud and slowly you yell people will not understand you better. They will only understand how rude you are. I was in a 7-Eleven buying water in Thailand when an American family was talking louder and louder to the shop keeper.  At the point where their tone got angry as well as loud I put down my water and took my business elsewhere.  No one wants to be around that. 

…Get Frustrated With the Locals For Not Speaking English.
Which leads us to the next point of do not get upset just because the locals do not speak your language. While it can be frustrating and even a bit scary to not be able to communicate, keep your attitude in check.  It is not a written rule that everyone should speak English or which ever language you are trying to speak.  Take a breath and move on.
…Expect The Host Country To Be Like The USA.
People and customs differ from country to country. It can be easy to assume small things will be the same in the host country, so do not get frustrated when things end up being different.  I smiled kindly to a waitress after having a family member visiting asking for ice for her drink.  Do not expect to always find things like ice cubes, air conditioning, central heating, king size beds, flat sheets, english menus, etc when in the host country.  Further more asking for it or asking why it is not available is not the best way to act.  Accept the differences and focus on the perks of the host country.  
Whether you learned something or just shook your head in remembrance of an Ugly Tourist you have met let me know what you thought in the comment section below. 

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  • Aleshea

    I love all of these. I also think it goes both was. You could make an argument for tourist who come to America. Especially those who come to Texas with their stereotypes and preconceived notions.

  • Kara

    I just always have to laugh when I think about my trip to England a little while ago. Our host kept telling us, “This building is older than your country!” It was such a fun trip though. I’d love to come back!

  • Casey Martin

    haha I love this post… I can’t stand these kind of tourists! Drives me crazy!

    • Bonnie Rose

      Glad you loved it. At least sometimes you can spot them a mile away and head the other way. x

  • Tammy Jorrak Cagle

    Great tips! I remember dealing with tourist or disrespectful military families, when we lived in Japan. I would cringe too. I tried to learn as much as i could before the move..out of respect and not to offend.

  • Sarah

    Oooh, so true! It’s ugly when people don’t respect their surroundings and cause a scene. No, thanks! I found your post through the link-up and am glad I stopped by. :)

    • Bonnie Rose

      Sarah, Glad you found me through the link up. x

  • Rachel

    This is so, so, so, true. I can’t stand those type of tourists–I don’t want others to ever think I’m associated with them. I mean, I understand not enjoying particular dishes…to this day, there’s a few Malaysian dishes that I genuinely don’t like (and way, way more that I do!) but refusing to even try any food?
    Or the people who act like they’re above everything, nothing in the country that they’re visiting is good enough for them….I’m sitting down happily eating my food bought at a hawker stall on the street and tourists nearby complain about how “gross” and “filthy” everything looks. I feel like telling them, “Just leave and don’t come back.”

  • lillian888

    I wish this list was mandatory reading for every American traveling outside the U.S. I’ve been to Mexico, Japan, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany. Whenever I saw “Ugly Americans,” it made me want to ask them to stop making life hard for the rest of us. When the locals see an American coming, the change in attitude can sometimes be quite visible.

    I just joined the Challenge. Looking forward to daily adventures!

  • The Yuppie Files

    I hate it when Americans get annoyed that service is not as fast as it may be in the U.S., whether at a restaurant or on a guided tour or whatever. We ran into that A LOT in Costa Rica & it was so obnoxious!

    That said, Americans are not the only ugly tourists out there. We’ve seen a lot of really bad behavior from Europeans, so that made me feel a little better. Not so much for the general travel behavior of the world but that it just wasn’t my home country, haha.

    Great list!

  • theunpoisonedapple

    Great post! I agree with everything except the shoes…call me American but I travel in trainers haha! Sometimes I’ll travel in flats but if I’m expecting to be walking all day-which I generally do when I travel-I’ll be wearing trainers.

    The worst Ugly Tourist story I have involves a mission trip I went on to Northern Ireland. Some people from one of the American groups were asking what the flag of Northern Ireland is, and instead of listening to the explanation they came to their own conclusion that the real flag of N. Ireland is not the Irish flag (or even the Union Jack) but the flag of the Red Hand of Ulster- which is very controversial and made the locals feel very uncomfortable. I don’t understand why people won’t just shut up and listen.

  • Laura Side Street

    OMG British people do these things as well – for example (don’t tell my partner) but his parents won’t try any new food – they just want fish and chips and expect everyone to speak english and do the speak loudly thing and don’t respect local cultures – this really annoys the hell out of me. Being from South Africa, a third world country and having lived in 4 different countries I love trying new things, learning the history of a place and going off the beaten track so all the things you listed I totally agree with. Closed minded people grate on me, I mean at the end of the day we all originated from Africa and no one is exactly from were they live – people are a big melting pot of cultures, I love that my mother is Welsh and my father is South African with a German grandfather and I embrace it all.

    Great post :)

    Laura x


    This was a great list. You’re right, those people make life very uncomfortable. Anybody who makes others feel uncomfortable in their own home are uncalled for.

  • lost in travels

    haha this is so perfect! and this is one of the main reasons we try to avoid touristy places (of course it cant’ always be helped) my favorite is the food one because how can you go to a new country and NOT try the food? we once ordered blindly on a menu in itlay but come on, your’e in italy you can’t go to wrong there.

  • hemborgwife

    I think this is so hard to deal with one both sides of the coin. When my in-laws came from Sweden for our wedding in California they would only order hamburgers and would not even try a deviled egg that my mom made for a family BBQ! Funnily enough they would not listen to my directions either and trusted the GPS over my own lifetime experience and got really lost and finally I had to yell at them to pull over so I could fix it!

  • StaceyFacex

    Oh I agree!! Thanks for visiting my blog :) I think for me it was the ‘speaking loudly to non English people in English’- they aren’t deaf, that’s not going to help. I’m not as well travelled as you but it really annoys me. I’m so loving this challenge! xx

  • Jessica Lynn

    I definitely agree with all of these. Since we’re living in Italy because of the military, some Americans are not living here by choice, and they make that loud (literally) and clear. It’s such a shame that people traveling (or living) elsewhere don’t make more of an effort to appreciate whatever culture they’re around. Great post.

    • Bonnie Rose

      I feel your pain. I still bring up in conversation about the other military families that would never leave the ‘little america compound’, but as you stated they can be quite verbal about their personal views. Better they stay on base than spread that out on the economy. So glad to find out more about families that love their time overseas and cherish every day abroad. Its such a great experience! x

    • Breeanna Kidwell

      I visited my husband who is stationed in Italy and it IS so amazing to see people that have been there for 2+ years and have not left the base town… How could you live in Italy and not travel!? I do not understand!
      When we visited Paris I tried my hardest to speak French (the little I know) but they loved my effort, at least I was trying! :)

  • Teresa R. Nystrom

    I agree!

  • Selena Jones

    We were recently in Morocco visiting a beautiful Mosque. It’s one of the few that allow non-Muslim visitors. It was amazing and so interesting. As we were gathering outside afterwards, some of the elderly British men in our group were discussing various religions in a negative way. I was starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. When they broke out into Church of England hymns on the grounds of this Mosque in a Muslim country I walked away. It was incredibly offensive.

    I think most tourists follow along with all of your tips. It’s just a few that make a negative impression. And these tips should be followed even when traveling in your own country. Ugly tourists aren’t always from a different country. Thanks for sharing.

  • Betty Taylor

    I was in Europe twice last year and I know exactly what you are talking about. I had been told that the French were rude. Well, it didn’t take long to see who was rude. A lot of the Americans were rude. I found that if I tried to speak French to the locals they were extremely accepting. My French is horrible, but they were appreciative of me at least trying. Usually they would then switch to English, which most of them spoke quite well. In the countries I visited, I enjoyed the people so much!

  • Sara Louise

    When I spot/ hear ugly tourists, I try to distance myself from them immediately and keep my mouth firmly shut because I don’t want anyone to hear my American accent and assume that I’m with them. It’s humiliating.

  • Bonnie Rose

    So very true!