Over the last month, I have seen the so called ugly American tourist appear so many times and I am not sure if it is ignorance, or just bad behavior. I have seen this behavior with my own family, from customers, while in hotel lobbies, at restaurants, and at attractions. I do not know if parents have not taught manors, civility, or if it is just plain ignorance. I am not sure if this behavior emerges out of stress, frustration, anger, or a desire for control or a combination of a number of factors.
There is no need to be rude or impolite to a hotel desk clerk. If there is an error, if you remain calm most will try and help you. They are doing a job and often do not have the authority to make a change. Yelling and screaming at hotel desk clerks accomplishes nothing. Researching a review on a hotel must be done in advance, not when you are checking in to a hotel. If you have not looked up the reviews on a hotel in advance, it is no one’s fault but yours. Please remember nasty reviews are often posted by competitors and people that are angry at the world. Often a hotel has undergone renovations since a review has been posted and often if you call a hotel in advance, and ask to speak to a manager you will know if the review is accurate. If you are unhappy chose another property at this time, not at check in. Often a hotel has undergone a change of ownership and changes have taken place positive or negative. A guaranteed reservation means the rooms are guaranteed to a credit card, if you do not show up or decide you do not want to stay at a property, for whatever reason you will be charged by the hotel. The desk clerk does not have the authority to override this rule, a manager must override. If there is a valid reason why you do not want to stay at a hotel, such as the rate is different than what was quoted, the type of room is not what you wanted or expected, the description is not what was stated, etc. For example in Boston there are several hotels whose online description state that they are airport hotels. Many of these properties are 20 miles from the airport; there is no shuttle, or public transportation, or access to food. The only way to get to these properties is to take a taxi at $25 each way, drive, or rent a car. These are valid reason to cancel a room. This often happens when people book looking for a deal, and buy through an opaque third party website. If the coffee in the hotel lobby is empty, let the front desk know, they will often make a pot of coffee if you ask. Screaming at the front desk clerk accomplishes nothing. If you need extra towels, soap, shampoo or other amenities ask nicely, it is seldom the front desk staffs fault that housekeeping missed these items. I have seen it more and more frequently when a guest arrives at a hotel someone say I don’t want to stay
here and then bitch and moan when they get charged for a one night stay. They forget they guaranteed the room, so it would be available when they arrived. I have seen this nonsense of hotels charging the equivalent of a one night stay as a security deposit and then taking 10 days to release the holds. This is not the front desk clerk that is implementing these policies, it is management. Screaming at the front desk clerk accomplishes nothing. Social media is a great way to warn other people about these hotel practices. You may not get immediate resolution but you can prevent others from having your experience. I am not suggesting you be silent when there is a challenge, I am encouraging you to be civil, remain calm, and let the person at the desk try and assist you. They often need to call a manager for resolution. Stop the demands and wait for resolution, aggressive behavior makes people not want to help you.
Turn your cell phone off when in a restaurant, or go outside if you must use your phone. Other diners do not want to hear your private conversations, using your cell phone at a table in a public space is just rude behavior. No one wants to hear the dinging every time someone sends you a text message. Cell phone conversations in public places are seldom private. Consider having a conversation with the people you are sharing a meal and leave the phone in your vehicle!!! If the food is not hot or to the temperature you like, or the quality is not what you expect, or your meal is taking forever, let the waitress know what you are unhappy about. Remain civil, don’t be aggressive, often the serving person is as frustrated as you are. Restaurants often have kitchen problems which are not the fault of the serving staff. If I am in a restaurant and have waited a long time for my meal, and the server does not know when the food is coming out; I advise the person serving me that in 15 minutes I am leaving. I call another restaurant make a reservation and when the time is up I leave. I have walked out of a restaurant with 40 people. I don’t yell or scream I just leave. If the food is not cooked the way I want it, I send it back, I am paying for the food as you are. Be civil to your serving person and tell them exactly what is wrong with the food, if you are nice most will rectify the situation.
Often I see American tourists going to a ticket counter and screaming at the agent because the price has increased, the ticket line is long, they don’t have proper id for an online booking or a credit card does not work. We all get frustrated when it happens. It happens to everyone at one point or another; we all become frustrated in these situations. The yelling and screaming does not accomplish anything but just elevates the situation. If there is a problem, ask for a supervisor and ask if you can have a private discussion so you do not hold up everyone up. If you remain civil you are more likely to get resolution.
If you want respect you have to give respect. I see American tourist traveling the globe that are totally insensitive to other travelers that are around them. Everyone should have fun when traveling but be respectful of others around you. The derogatory remarks about, looks, food, culture, do not always need to be voiced. When traveling, expect to find things different, that is why people travel. I encourage laughter, sharing experiences, and having fun, as long as it is not hurtful to others. I have heard American Tourist making fun of the way others dress, using derogatory names for these people, loudly expressing a disagreement of a cultural practice. I have witnessed the shouting at deaf people, the intentional tripping of blind people, the rude behavior towards handicapped, or someone deformed. Use the golden rule and treat others as you want to be treated. Showing your ignorance while traveling makes everyone uncomfortable. If someone lets you know you are being ignorant or rude while traveling, consider changing behavior rather than getting aggressive.
When traveling domestically or international remember there are cultural difference in each region of the world, what is acceptable in one part of the world, is considered rude behavior in another part of the world. Admit when you make an error and have offended and move on. Learn from your ignorance; accept that there are different standards throughout the world. If you remain calm, stop the shouting and screaming, making outrageous demands, stop the derogatory remarks, remain civil, your travel experience will be far more enjoyable. Remember many parts of the world are as ignorant of your way of doing things as you are ignorant of their way of doing things. As much as we all believe we are right and our views are right, others also believe they are right. Open your mind to other viewpoints, accept that others do not believe what you believe and that does not make them wrong. If someone disagrees with your point of view, shouting at them will not change their viewpoint. Avoid discussions about religion, unless you are traveling with a religious group. Few want to know why you believe your belief system is better than their belief system. I have heard the term religious kooks so often when traveling, that I encourage you to keep your religious viewpoints private. Your belief system is private and should be kept private, sharing your belief system with other travelers often cause unnecessary conflict. Openly displaying religious objects when traveling, can make you a target of those that have different religious viewpoints. I am not discouraging you from wearing, your religious objects but wear them inside of your clothing rather than outside.
I hope everyone has safe travels and takes steps so you don’t get labeled as an Ugly American when traveling. All of us can overcome ignorance and prejudice with an open mind, civility, and respect for others.