18 Things Americans are Shocked by When Traveling Abroad

America is one of the largest land masses in the world. It is understandable that many Americans choose to go on holiday to other states rather than other countries. With so much to see right on your doorstep, why wouldn’t you? So when Americans do travel abroad, they are often shocked to find out that other countries do things differently.

What are the Biggest Differences? 

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If you have not traveled further afield than the United States, there can be some big differences to be found in the way things are done. Traveling to other countries can show you sides of life you never thought possible. Here are some of the biggest differences that might shock you.

Walking is Normal

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In America, it is standard practice to get about using some form of transport. Driving, getting a cab, or jumping on the metro are all regular ways of getting from A to B. In other places this is different. Take England for example, where over 65% of journeys in England are covered by walking.

Safe Biking in Cities 

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Another quite normal means of transport in Europe is to go by bike. In American cities, this can be a dangerous way to get about. But in places like Utrecht in the Netherlands, over half the population uses a bike to get around. This is made safer because they have a ready-made bike infrastructure in place.

Water Isn’t Safe to Drink

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Drinking water from the tap in America is totally fine in most states. But when traveling to other countries, you may be shocked to find out it’s not. Some countries have such poor water quality that it can make you ill. Just one glass could ruin your holiday.

Having to Ask for Ice

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In American culture, it is normal to get ice with every drink you order. It just comes as standard. But in some countries, this is not the case. There are many places where you need to ask for ice, or you won’t get any. This is because of the cost of making ice. That, or the unsafe drinking water.

Low Price of Food

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The cost of living is rising everywhere in America. This includes the price of food getting higher by the day. So when Americans travel abroad, it can be shocking to find out how low a restaurant bill can be. In places like Thailand for instance, you can eat a full meal with drinks for a little over two dollars.

Closeness of Neighboring Countries 

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In America, you can fly all day and still be in the same country you took off from. The flight from LA to New York takes almost five hours. In other countries this changes, a half-hour flight can take you from one country to another with ease. This can be shocking for Americans.

Lack of Air Conditioning 

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For an American, air conditioning is no longer a luxury and usually comes as standard. Poorer nations rely heavily on fans to cool down. This is due to the high energy costs of air-conditioning.

Time Spent Outside

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In American cities, it is normal to spend much of your time inside buildings. They might have a balcony so you can spend moments outside. But in some foreign countries, the balcony becomes a larger part of the building. And being outside is a regular part of living.

People Don’t Speak English 

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The idea that someone does not speak English is shocking to an American. English is spoken by over three-quarters of the population. This can also be said for most of the world. Traveling to some countries will show you that many do not, and so you may need to bring a translator.

Weird Toilets

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Toilets are toilets, right? Wrong. When you travel to some faraway countries, they do toilets differently. Some places have a ‘bum gun’ to spray yourself with water afterward. Others might just have a hole in the floor with spaces for your feet on either side.

Toilet Charges

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If you are in America and want to use the toilet, there will be a free one near you at all times. Other countries do things a little differently. Some places might have a barrier that asks for payment just to open. Others will have an attendant who you need to pay to use the toilet, so it’s a good idea to carry some change with you.

More Time to Eat

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The average American lunch break only lasts around half an hour. In places like Europe, lunchtime is a much longer affair. They take food more seriously, and like to savor it over a longer period. Expect to spend an hour or more enjoying your midday snack.

Having Dinner at the Table

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Fast food is becoming more popular in the United States. This has led to more people eating either in their car or on the move. European countries prefer to gather around a table for meals, bringing to eating a much more social aspect.

Laundry Done Differently 

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Laundry in America is pretty straightforward. Most houses have a washer and a dryer. If they don’t then there is always the laundromat. In other countries, clothes washing is done by hand, or it is machine washed, then hung out to dry in the sun. This is usually to save on electricity costs.

The Old World

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America is a newer country than most. It was only founded in 1776. This is hard to grasp when looking at American history. The moment you go abroad though, history can be seen clearly in the buildings you come across. Some cities date back further than can be imagined.

Dollars Do Not Work

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The almighty dollar is the backbone of American consumer culture. But no matter how many dollars you have in your pocket, in some countries it won’t be enough. Always make sure you exchange some for the national currency of the country you are traveling to.

Animals Walk the Streets 

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It is very rare in most American cities to see animals roaming the streets. Dogs are on leashes, and other animals are kept in zoos. Some countries are different. In India, you can see huge cows walking in the middle of the highway, and there are wild dogs and cats all over the place.

Check Before You Leave

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Due to these vast differences between America and other countries, it is always smart to do some research. Check out what you might be up against before leaving. This way you won’t get such a shock.

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Thomas James

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