The time old tradition for any American headed abroad is to be reminded to not be an ugly American. So what is an ugly American?
It is being too self centered.
When you travel people are tired, people are whinny and people/tourists are not always polite. There are three simple steps to not being an ugly American:
1. Take a deep breath, the world is not out to get you.
No Americans the world doesn’t revolve around you. Yes everyone in tourist areas speaks English but just assuming they will is rude. Better to ask “can I speak in English?” If something goes wrong it is just luck not a conspiracy. Take a deep breath and figure out what you can do next, not what you wish had happened.
2. Think before you ask questions, does the person you are asking have time to deal with you.
Today I watched a fellow tourist ask a walking tour guide questions for about 5min and then not even buy a ticket to the tour. While she was asking all these questions, others were waiting to ask questions and the guide was taking tickets from others and giving out change as the woman continued to ask question. Was this tour guide really the best person to ask so many questions to, before you and your group had even decided what you wanted to do…probably not.
3. Travel more. You will be less stressed the more you are used to travel and the more problems you have traveling the easier it will be to take the setbacks in stride.
The more you travel the better you will become at going with the flow. Yes trains are late, buses take time, and you have to read a lot of signs to get to the right underground platform but just like languages cities are very similar. Subway systems work the same all around the world. The more often you travel the more you will know to look for the signs to certain types of trains, attractions or construction.
See if you can spot them. And try to avoid joining their ranks.