18 Tourist Behaviors Americans Don’t Approve Of

Although Americans have a reputation for being bad tourists, people from other countries also misbehave when visiting the United States. From cultural differences to poor body language, here are 18 problematic tourist behaviors to avoid the next time you visit anywhere in America!

Not Tipping

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Tipping culture in the US is very different from other countries. American servers rely on tips, so it’s customary to leave a tip regardless of the quality of service. Intrepid Travel recommends tipping 15% to 20% in all cafes, diners, and restaurants you visit, and not doing so is seen as very rude.

Cutting the Taxi Queue

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Americans typically queue up-stream for cabs, so it’s bad form to stand ahead of someone who is already waiting. If you do this, the next passing cab will stop for you instead, meaning you’ve inadvertently cut the line, which will attract some serious side-eyes.

Leaving Doors Open

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Leaving doors open is mainly considered bad behavior in winter, yet many tourists still do it without thinking. When you enter or exit an establishment, it’s basic manners to close the door behind you, as leaving it open lets cold air inside and bothers other patrons.

Bad Manners

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Bad manners are disapproved of everywhere, and the US is no exception. Locals scrutinize tourists who get drunk and rowdy, cause a scene, and do not say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ The general rule is that it costs nothing to be polite, so make an effort to be on your best behavior.

Starting Political Arguments

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The US is one of the most politically divisive places in the world, with the Pew Research Center reporting that 45% of Americans have stopped talking about politics altogether. So, don’t start political arguments with locals–these arguments can quickly escalate, and Americans won’t appreciate them.

Littering on Beaches

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The US has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From South Beach in Miami to Honokalani Beach in Maui, there is so much sand and sea to enjoy. That’s why Americans despise it when tourists pollute their beaches with litter, so always take your trash away with you.

Parking on the Sidewalk

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Though parking with wheels on the sidewalk may be commonplace in some countries, it’s not customary in the US. Laws differ from state to state, but parking on the sidewalk is generally frowned upon either way because you’re preventing pedestrians from using it.

Ordering Off-Menu

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Some American restaurants may allow you to order dishes that aren’t on the menu but don’t make it a habit to do this everywhere. Servers are already stressed, so ordering off-menu dishes will make their jobs harder. They’ll likely be told off by kitchen staff, and the service you receive will suffer.


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In the US, crossing the street without the right of way is called ‘jaywalking,’ and locals hate it when tourists do it. Streets are for cars, and sidewalks and crosswalks are for pedestrians, so running out and disrupting traffic is considered rude and is also against the law.

Standing Too Close

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Americans value personal space, so they disapprove of clueless tourists who invade it. Remember, you’re a stranger to the locals you encounter, so they won’t appreciate you standing too close to them in a queue or leaning right in when talking.

Making Prolonged Eye Contact

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Though eye contact is considered polite because it shows you’re actively listening to what someone is saying, it’s rude to stare. Americans typically avoid prolonged eye contact because it makes them feel awkward, so try not to over-invest when you speak to the locals.

Casually Cursing

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Of course, Americans curse, but not as freely as some nationalities. The BBC has commented on this cultural difference in the past, citing words that are common in places such as the UK yet completely unsayable in the US. When in doubt, avoid casually cursing, even if it’s normal at home.

Walking on the Left

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Just like Americans drive on the right side, they also walk on the right side. This allows them to keep pace and easily overtake slower walkers. However, tourists typically walk on either side, with large groups dominating the sidewalk to take photos. Don’t be those people getting in the way!

Complaining About Prices

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One of the biggest culture shocks for tourists is paying in a foreign currency, but Americans won’t appreciate it if you complain about prices. The cost of something may be more valuable in dollars than in your currency, and there are also sales taxes, so keep your complaints to yourself.

Chasing Celebrities

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If you’re visiting Los Angeles or New York City, you could have the chance to see some celebrities. While this is understandably exciting, Americans despise loud, disruptive tourists who chase famous people in public. Keep your composure and respect everybody, no matter how famous they are.

Smoking in Public Places

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Smoking isn’t illegal in the US, but it’s widely disapproved of nowadays. The American Heart Association proudly shares that smoking rates are continuing to decline, and this has led to it now being poor manners to smoke in public places. Always look for a smoking area if you have to smoke.

Not Engaging in Small Talk

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Small talk is a huge part of American social culture, so don’t skip over the pleasantries when you visit. Be polite to your server, chat with store workers, and always reply when somebody asks you how you are, or Americans may lose their respect for you.

Criticizing the United States

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Finally, criticizing any country you’re visiting while enjoying its hospitality is terrible behavior, and the United States is no different. Pay attention to the norms of the cities and states you visit, behave as the locals do, and don’t speak badly about American society. If you don’t like it, why are you visiting?

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