Don’t Hate Me Because I’m American

I’m not going to lie – traveling solo around the world scares the hell out of me. And when the U.S. State Department releases warnings every other day about how Armageddon is upon us in every corner of the globe, why shouldn’t it? So many questions, so many unknowns. Not the least of which is how well (or not) American travelers are received around the world.

Vagabondish is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read our disclosure.

Then I read in-the-trenches experiences and blog posts like this that give me hope:

Before we began our travels, we were curious how people would react to us as Americans during a time when our country isn’t very popular around the world.

Six months in, I’m happy to report people are very capable of separating citizens from governments.

From Tanzania to Vietnam to Argentina, we’ve encountered nothing but friendliness.

via Erin and Brad’s Travel Blog

Sure, it’s one couple’s anecdotal evidence – not exactly a large, scientific poll. But it’s a glimmer of hope all the same.

To any fellow travelers, what have your experiences been? Are Americans treated with kid gloves around the world? Or are we the political and cultural scapegoats the media and the State Department portray us as?

Founding Editor
  1. Well you can always console yourself with the fact that because of America’s gun laws and culture, you’re safer virtually anywhere in the world than in America.

    I remember setting off on my first long trip. I went from Hanoi to Singapore in South East Asia and then Belize to Panama in Central America. In between I had two weeks in San Francisco.

    I remember a guy who had been traveling all his life, looking at my itinerary and hearing my fears of safety. He told me the least safe place I was going was America.

    It was certainly where I felt the most threatened.

    At the risk of being rude, before it was fashionable to blame anti-Americanism on the road, tourists from the USA still had a hard time.

    (Think loud voices, Hawaiian shirts, complaints about food and service)

    Recently in the Lost Girls blog they had a rough time in Hanoi. A place I love which has absolutely minimal crime. In their comments box anti-Americanism was blamed.

    Wrong, and any American who has spent time in Vietnam will tell you that. Despite good cause, Vietnamese have nothing against Americans. Instead, getting treated badly in Hanoi is normally a reflection of a certain attitude (it’s all about the culture of not losing face).

    Having said all of this you can reverse what anti-Americanism that there is out there. Simply just vote for a better president next time.

  2. He told me the least safe place I was going was America.

    I hear this on a lot of travel forums and in the back of my mind, I believe it. But since I’m comfortable here in the U.S. and it’s known to me, it feels safer than any other country around the world.

    It’s an irrational fear really – simple fear of the unknown – and one I’m sure I’ll overcome in my travels.

    Thanks for the encouraging words, omih.

  3. Take a look at your death by guns statistics. If the US was another country then your government would advise you not to travel there.

    Hmm, did that make sense?

  4. That’s actually a perfectly simple way of putting it. But I’m assuming the U.S. State Dept. doesn’t release travel advisories on itself, right?

  5. As a european traveller having hosted a bunch of americans through couchsurfing and meeting them on the road regularly, I think the general feeling is that the Americans that actually make it outside of America (and I’m not talking a beach resort in the Caribbean or a 5 star hotel with organized city tours) are usually the more open minded Americans.
    I haven’t been to the U.S. so I can’t value the statement for it’s truth, but that’s what they tell me. Hold on another year and I should make it to the states :)

  6. Well I think we here in America take for granted that in a somewhat functional democracy, our government is supposed to by, of and for the people. In some places in the world it’s not quite so, so I think it might be easier for people living in other parts of the world to separate the man or woman on the street from the man or woman in the parliament house.

    Pure speculation on my part though.

  7. As an American who has spent a lot of time in various parts of the Arab world, I completely second Mike’s comment. Upon hearing my nationality, most locals will strongly state their opposition to the Bush administration’s foreign policy. In the same conversation, though, they will invite you to meet their families, share local food, and do everything possible to make sure you enjoy your visit. Obviously, I tell my friends to exercise common sense when choosing a destination in the Middle East. I personally have received nothing but a warm welcome, though.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let's Make Sure You're Human ... * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Subscribe to Our 'Under the Radar' Newsletter
If you love travel, you're gonna love this!