lounge chairs beach Hilton Abu Dhabi
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

The Rude American for These 8 Reasons?!? I Must Be Different — Or…

“W hen it comes to being just plain rude, Americans have for some time, consistently topped the list. This new survey drives the point home”, according to this article written by Joseph Luther of Elliott, whose “last word” is that America is number one…at being rude. “It includes results for the number of people, by country, admitting to urinating in the pool, taking extra hotel toiletries, calling in sick to prolong their vacation, and checking out without paying the bill.”

The list to which Joseph Luther refers — and apparently led him to the conclusion pertaining to the rude American — is this global survey of “travel secrets revealed” recently released from Travelzoo, which is “a global Internet media company and trusted publisher of travel, entertainment and local deals.

I subscribe to alerts via e-mail messages from Travelzoo; and a good deal comes along now and then in which I may be interested — but when I think of Travelzoo, I think of deals. I do not think of Travelzoo as a content provider — or, at least, content provider is not the first thought when I think of Travelzoo.

Then again, deal sites such as FareCompare and AirfareWatchdog — now a division of Smarter Travel Media Network — and their respective founders of Rick Seaney and George Hobica have successfully transformed themselves from purveyors of travel deals into providers of content. Why not Travelzoo?

Why not indeed? I am sure there are people who would argue that some “bloggers” do not come to mind pertaining to being conveyors of content — but I digress.

Here are the survey results from Travelzoo, along with my comments.

1. Taking Hotel Toiletries

According to the survey, 69 percent of Americans — followed by 63 percent of Canadians, 61 percent of Chinese, and 45 percent of Britons — will take extra hotel toiletries with them; whereas Germans were the least likely to do so.

I am not sure why this qualifies as a “dirty little secret.” Back on Monday, August 28, 2006, I admitted to taking hotel toiletries “because their size is convenient for travel in case I visit somewhere that may not have the toiletries I want or need” — but the toiletries are there for the guests to take.

Also — as part of the Stupid Tip of the Day series — I give some advice pertaining to traveling with those toiletries.

To me, taking towels, robes, bedding, light fixtures, alarm clocks, and other items which are actually bolted down at some hotel properties — in other words, things which should not be taken from a hotel room — would qualify more as a “dirty little secret”…

…and no, I have never taken anything other than toiletries and the occasional pen and pad of paper from a hotel room.

Some hotel guests will purposely take toiletries to donate them in order to help those who are less fortunate. One organization which comes to mind is Global Soap.

2. Tinkling in the Pool or Ocean

64 percent of Americans confessed to urinating in the pool or ocean — as opposed to 58 percent of Canadians; 46 percent of Britons; and 44 percent of Germans. The Chinese were least likely to do so.

“News Flash: Birds and fish not only pee in the ocean, they poop there too.” That is according to this comment posted by SirWired, who is a reader of Elliott. Yes, that may be true; but that does not help to alleviate the disgust of the thought of a fellow human being relieving himself or herself in an ocean or pool, in my opinion.

For the record, I have never urinated, defecated, vomited, or even blew my nose in a pool or ocean.

3. Cheating on Your Partner

At ten percent, Germans were most likely to cheat on their partners while traveling; followed by the Chinese at five percent, Britons at four percent, Americans at three percent, and Canadians at two percent.

I have never cheated on anyone while traveling. I am quite boring, aren’t I?!?

4. Sneaking Goods through Customs

32 percent of Chinese admit that they have not declared all merchandise at customs; while 23 percent of Canadians, 22 percent of Americans, and 19 percent of Britons admit the same.

My purchases when I travel are usually too small to declare to customs agents: “Yes, I bought this souvenir for three dollars.” Does that mean that I snuck that souvenir through?

5. Vacation Planning During Work

The survey revealed that 70 percent of Chinese; 67 percent of Americans; 64 percent of Canadians; 40 percent of Britons; and 38 percent of Germans do research for their vacation during work hours.

The survey does not reveal how many people work during their leisure hours — such as at home, for example. There are surveys which claim that Americans are amongst the groups which spend the most time working — but that is the topic for another article for another day.

I am fortunate that doing vacation research — which can be quite extensive and can consume an inordinate amount of time and effort — is part of my job in writing this weblog here at The Gate.

6. Playing Hooky to Extend Your Vacation

I personally have never called in to work claiming I was sick to extend a vacation by a day or more; but apparently 24 percent of Americans, 16 percent of both Canadians and Chinese, 15 percent of Britons, and ten percent of Germans admitted to doing so.

7. Skipping on a Bill

Not paying your bill for any product or service you received fairly and squarely is just plain wrong. Fortunately, only 13 percent of Americans, nine percent of Canadians, eight percent of Britons, seven percent of Germans, and six percent of Chinese have left a restaurant without paying the bill.

Tipping, however, could be another story depending on the service received. Here is a question for you: should tips and gratuities in restaurants be discontinued?

In other words: skipping and tipping on a bill are two different scenarios…

8. Reserving a Lounge Chair with Your Towel

“While not a terrible habit, it is frowned upon to reserve a lounge chair with your towel early in the morning, when you’re not at the beach or pool.”

Although 64 percent of Canadians, 59 percent of Americans, 40 percent of Chinese, 33 percent of Britons and 33 percent of Germans admitted to this practice, this is the first I have heard of it being frowned upon…

…especially as I have never done it myself — other than if I am already in the water and need a place to keep my belongings, of course.

Then again, I am not typically the type to lounge around at a pool or beach — at least, not for longer than a couple of hours at a time.


This survey apparently only had respondents who were American, Chinese, British, German and Canadian. What about people from countries such as Australia, France, India, Japan, Russia and South Africa? I see no evidence that people from other than those from five distinct countries participated in the survey, which could arguably be concluded as flawed.

Additionally, I am not sure how Joseph Luther took the leap of concluding how rude are Americans by gleaning the results of that survey. Some of the “dirty little secrets” may be disgusting or unethical — but I do not believe they qualify as rude. For a better list of items which could be considered rude, please read this article I wrote last year pertaining to “ugly” Americans.

There are definitely rude, inconsiderate, obnoxious and disgusting people all over the world — including Americans — but to classify them into nationalities is akin to classifications regarding race, gender, sexual preference and age, in my opinion. Surveys such as this one serve little purpose other than for entertainment and the possible perpetuation of stereotypical behavior and justification for discrimination.

More importantly to me is to bring about awareness pertaining to doing the right thing while traveling — and that includes politeness and respect to others and the land in which they live. I am not treated like a rude or “ugly” American when I travel. Quite the contrary: I am usually treated very well by citizens of countries which I visit — most recently, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — simply because I treat them with respect; I attempt to speak at least one word of their language; and I am polite and considerate to them…

…and it really takes little effort to accomplish that, as being treated well can be the difference between a successful trip and a bad trip — even when unexpected anomalies occur…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I take all the hotel toiletries and all the pens. I don’t view that as a “dirty secret” but in fact part of what I have paid for by booking the room.

    I agree with you about it being different if you were taking things like alarm clocks. pillows, sheets, etc.

  2. Urinating in the vast ocean is disgusting? More so than in the woods? What do you think the millions of sea creatures, some mammals, are doing daily?

  3. 1. Taking Hotel Toiletries
    I assume toiletries are included as part of the cost I am paying for my room. Thus, if they are in my bathroom and I like their quality and smell I will take it with me. Pen and paper are usually cheap and I only take if I really need one. Taking something other than is pure stealing.

    2. Tinkling in the Pool or Ocean
    Well, if people do this at a hotel or beach I can only imagine what is to live in their house. I always carry with me the following message: “Don’t do to others what you don’t want to be done to you. Act and treat others assets as if they were yours.” Thus, I behave/treat a hotel room, pool, beach, restaurant, rental car as if it was mine. Problem here is that some people have bad behavior even at their homes.

    3. Cheating on Your Partner
    Never did that. And why do while travelling? Go figure!!!

    4. Sneaking Goods through Customs
    Usually you have to fill a form if you are bringing more than $$xx to the country, certain products, etc.. I respond to those according to the law. However, I don’t stop at the customs agent and say I am bringing a souvenir, bla bla bla… If he asks me to open my luggage he will find it in accordance to the responses I gave on the paper.

    5. Vacation Planning During Work
    This is totally subjective. I work in a multinational company and I work with people all over the globe. I have to be in conference calls at 6AM from my home. I have to be in conference calls at 11PM from my home. I fly out for work on weekends. I answer emails on my weekends. Thus, I am a grown up and know what I have to deliver. I am fortunate that my boss does not micromanage my time so if I have to be in the office until 10PM to finish something, so be it. But if I am done at 3PM on Friday, I leave early and go home stay with my family. Thus, if I spend time at work planning my vacation, who cares?? As long as I deliver what I am supposed to deliver nobody should care when and how I do it.

    6. Playing Hooky to Extend Your Vacation
    This is plain wrong. You are gaming the system and violating the principles of ethics. You should be fired by doing that.

    7. Skipping on a Bill
    This is stealing. Should go to jail and if you do it in some countries you may get even worse punishment. Again, read my answer #2.

    8. Reserving a Lounge Chair with Your Towel
    This is an interesting one. I don’t like it but I’ve done it. Two weeks ago on vacation in a very high end hotel in Hawaii. Open my balcony window with this amazing view to the ocean and hotel pool. Before 8AM, not a single soul in the pool area but 90% of pool chairs had towels or bags on it. Hummm!!! What is going on? I see that every day but we were not in Hawaii to use the pool so I could not care. However in the last day we had to live the hotel early to go to the airport so we decided to stay by the pool with the kids. So, what to do? If we went for breakfast and then went to the pool the likelihood we would get a chair was close to zero. Thus, my wife walked by the pool are and put our bags and towels on one of the few chairs available. We went for breakfast and went back to the pool. I can tell you that after almost 4 hours in that area, 80% of the chairs “reserved” we still empty. That is a really bad behavior that should change by the hotel staff enforcing some sort of rules to use those chairs. Otherwise, the last I want is to take towels away of a chair to later have an argument with the person that reserved it.

  4. when you have good content, i post and tell you. well i’m here to tell you that this is not only stupid, it’s completely inaccurate and ANYONE who travels abroad knows this.

    ugly American? rarely. these days, in most locations, American’s are known as the (mostly) overly polite, ridiculously generous tipping, rule following perfect guests. yeah, there are those with the sense of entitlement- at least one is a top blogger on BA! but that’s the exception, and EVERYONE in the hospitality industry abroad knows it.

    Russians are rude, obnoxious, unfriendly, aggressively and shamelessly cheap and, generally, devoid of joy- almost to a man/woman. Chinese give the Russians a run for their money except they have joy in life, but also come with public pooping, zero respect for rules, lines, personal space, etc. Japanese are polite but very very arrogant and xenophobic even when abroad. Koreans are really loud, also arrogant and generally annoying unless it’s a family. Brits- more like Americans, perhaps better, unless we’re talking about a bunch of 18-35 year old males- then there is a 100% chance they’ll be blind drunk my mid/late evening and at least a 50/50 chance that by the end of the night, at least 1 will be involved in an alcohol induced fight. Indian’s seem quite nice, but they are not liked in many areas because of, ahem, different cultural bathing habits and for being really really cheap. and the French, well… they live up to their reputation 90+ % of the time. as for children… ask around who has well behaved and respectful kids- i would wager American kids rate very highly. SE Asian tourist’s and their kids are, ime, very polite, friendly, have well behaved kids and, the ones with money, spend it.

    there are exceptions, of course, to all above. that said, this is how the hospitality industry and merchants who cater to tourists for a living see it. i live in hotels (literally) and see everything, make friends with staff where i frequent and have asked their opinions on this matter many times- when you live in the hotel, the staff become friends and they feel comfortable talking openly- though they very rarely badmouth any group (well, except Russians, nobody has anything good to say about them!), but they more ‘compare’ vs ‘better’ guests.

    ugly Americans- yep, i’ve seen them and been embarrassed. and, yes, when an American is a self-entitled _____, they are so loud and obnoxious everyone knows it. but they’re the exception, far from the rule, and anyone who travels or is in hospitality knows it. so, please, st_u about carrying on this false stereotype.

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