8 Annoying Traits of American Tourists Dining Abroad
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8 Annoying Traits of American Tourists Dining Abroad

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Trying new restaurants and cafes is one of the best parts of traveling. Whether you’re wandering around Barcelona, ​​Sydney, or anywhere else, going out to dinner or popping into a new cafe every morning gives you the opportunity to try new foods and learn about a new culture. But food culture varies greatly from country to country, so you can’t just walk into a restaurant anywhere and expect it to be exactly the same as it would be back home. Sometimes, you’ll need to adapt your habits to ensure your behavior and expectations match local cultural norms.

Navigating unfamiliar dining customs can be tricky, and that leads to a number of common mistakes people make when dining abroad. But don’t worry, we’ve got some tips for you. Depending on where you’re headed on your next travels, here are some common mistakes you’ll want to do your best to avoid.

You rush to finish your meal.

Remember dreaming of endless lunches while planning your summer vacation in the Mediterranean? Once you’re there, it’s important to slow down enough to enjoy those long afternoon meals.

In the United States, the culture is very dynamic. But rushing to eat is not the norm everywhere else. “In Italy and France, rushing to eat a multi-course meal would be a big no-no,” saidKelly Duhiggwho is a travel blogger andfounder of Girl with passport. “They enjoy the experience of the meal and restaurants don’t feel rushed to turn the table over. It took me a while to slow down and truly appreciate all the elements of each dish.”

Timon van Bastenwho is a tour guide in Spain, shares this sentiment. “I’ve seen tourists get very impatient and demand faster service without realizing that’s not how it works in this culture,” he said. “They like to take their time with multiple courses.”

Of course, this isn’t just something to be aware of in Europe. Chris Atkins, owner of Fishing in Central America He said he often encounters this problem in Central America as well. “In the United States, our customer-first society has conditioned us to expect immediate service if they want to do business with us,” he said. “In Latin America, eating out is more of a luxury, so the experience is not rushed and is meant to be enjoyed.”

I expect dinner at 6 p.m.

Meal times vary greatly from country to country, so when traveling it’s best to try to adapt to local meal times (where possible) and plan ahead so you know when restaurants will be open. This might mean going out to dinner at 9pm instead of the usual 6pm.

“In Latin America and the Mediterranean region, meals are often eaten later, around 8 or 9 p.m.,” says Emmanuel Burgio, founder of Blue Parallel, a company that offers luxury tours in Latin America, the Mediterranean and the Arctic. “In Buenos Aires, it’s common to eat dinner around 10 p.m., and many restaurants don’t take reservations until at least 8 p.m..”

Hoping to be able to buy food late at night.

Some tourist destinations have a thriving nightlife food scene. But not all of them: some cities close after dinner hours and late-night dining is not possible.

“A lot of cities in the United States don’t sleep – you can get food and drinks 24/7,” said Ravi Parikh, founder of RoverPass“However, it is wrong to assume that all countries offer this convenience. I advise you to avoid walking around at night hoping to find a fast food restaurant or restaurant open. Instead, plan to have dinner earlier or explore local street food options during the day.”

Being a little too loud at dinner.

In a restaurant, it is not always wise to make noise and be rowdy. If you are in a rather quiet restaurant, make sure that your behavior matches the general atmosphere of the people around you.

“Noise in restaurants is definitely something Americans need to be wary of abroad,” said Elaine Warren, founder and CEO of The Family Cruise Companion“In many European countries, it is expected that meals will be conducted in a low, almost whispered tone. It took us a while to get back to this habit after years of lively conversations at home. We found that respecting this custom led to a much more relaxing experience.”

Of course, engaging in conversation and laughing is completely natural, but in many cultures, being excessively loud can be disruptive, said Jay Ternavan, founder of JayWay Travel“In some countries it is important to maintain a quiet and respectful atmosphere. So keeping a low tone is essential.”

It is much less common outside the United States to get takeout coffee.It is much less common outside the United States to get takeout coffee.

It is much less common outside the United States to get takeout coffee. Nitat Termmee via Getty Images

I’m waiting for a takeaway coffee.

If you’re a coffee lover, exploring local cafes each morning is one of the best parts of traveling. But be prepared for some major differences in coffee culture, especially if you plan on taking your coffee to go. In many places, it’s much more common to sit down and drink your coffee at the cafe (without your laptop) rather than taking it with you.

“In many parts of the world, coffee is a pleasurable experience, enjoyed in cozy cafes with friends or loved ones,” said Michael L. Moore, founder of the travel agency Countdown to Magic“Dive into this local tradition by finding a charming café and treating yourself to a slow, relaxing coffee break. And while you’re at it, step outside of your usual coffee order and explore regional specialties—you might just discover a new favorite.”

Take business calls or work from your laptop while eating dinner.

Planning to work during lunch or dinner? Look around to see if anyone else is doing the same thing. If not, you might want to leave your laptop at home.

“It’s important to take cues from locals when traveling, respecting customs and doing your best to ensure a disruption-free experience for everyone,” said Karen Magee, president of Valerie Wilson Travel, Chase Travel Group. “Simple gestures like heeding volume guidelines or putting down your laptop and phone calls after a meal can go a long way in how you present yourself abroad.”

We all know it’s hard not to look at your phone or take a photo of every dish that’s served at your table, but you can try to minimize technology use during meals. “When we travel with our kids to other countries, we bring a sketchbook and crayons so they don’t have to use electronics during dinner,” says Keri Baugh, a travel writer and founder of the family travel blog Bon Voyage With Kids. “Loud electronics in small European restaurants can be distracting to other diners, so we avoid using them so as not to disturb them.”

Waiting for free refills.

In many countries, drink orders are markedly different from how they’re handled in the United States. When you’re traveling to a new place, you may want to adjust your expectations so that you’re not expecting free refills.

“Unlike many restaurants in the United States, non-alcoholic beverages like soda and sparkling water are often served in smaller glasses, often without ice, and ‘refills’ aren’t free: you pay for each drink you order,” Baugh said.

We hope your bill will be brought to your table promptly.

In the United States, you’re probably used to your server bringing your bill to the table right away, sometimes while the food is still on the table. But that’s not the norm everywhere.

“Here in Central America, after a meal, it’s common to have a ‘cafecito,’ a small cup of coffee or cappuccino that acts as a digestive after a big meal,” Atkins says. “American tourists can be frustrated by having to wait 10 to 20 minutes for someone to come and bring them the bill after their meal. This cultural difference is often misinterpreted as poor service, but in reality, the restaurant gave you plenty of time to enjoy your meal, the post-meal cafecito, and the conversation. So yes, things move at a slower pace here, but it’s not laziness or poor service, it’s just a different approach to what’s important when you’re dining out.”

And sometimes, in countries like France, you may have to ask for your bill before your server brings it to your table.