Americans are proud of their heritage and often call the US the best country in the world. However, the world doesn't quite agree with them. America's foreign policy has caused anger and mistrust in parts of the world like the Middle East or South and Central America. At the same time, American tourists' arrogant attitude has generated dislike in many foreign countries, including European ones. Luckily, a lot can be done to revert stereotypical ideas of what Americans are like, but growth only occurs through knowledge.
France is a beloved destination among American tourists. The cuisine, the Impressionists, and the French Riviera attract Yankees looking to experience the glamour and intellectualism of one of Europe's biggest countries. Unfortunately, the French don't necessarily share the same sentiment about America. The country of haute couture has a known dislike for the English language, fast food, and a lack of sophistication, all things that are associated with people from the other side of the Atlantic. A smart way to get on the French's good side is to learn a little bit of their language and to show appreciation for their history and culture. However, even if they turn their noses up when foreigners arrive, the French know that their economy depends on tourist revenues, especially on US tourism, so be mindful and respectful.
The long and complicated history of the United States and Russia is a big deterrent when it comes to establishing a connection between citizens of the two countries. The Cold War surely didn't help, and neither did the recent allegations of electoral interference. Americans don't trust Russians easily, and the feeling is pretty mutual. Nonetheless, there's plenty to explore in Russia and fun to be had there. From the sights of Moscow and Saint Petersburg to the Trans-Siberian Railway, the largest country in the world is full of diversity and adventures-in-waiting. If you avoid talking politics and don't take it personally if the locals seem brusque, your trip to the former home of the Tsars will be a great and fascinating one. Who knows, you might even be able to improve relations between these two old enemies if you behave well enough.
Like Russia, another country with a renowned antagonism with the US is Iran, and, in the most recent years, this relationship has become even more strained. It's hard to evaluate how dangerous it can be for Americans to travel to Iran. For sure, it's not as simple as going to, say, the United Kingdom. Visas are hard to obtain, but you'll definitely have a more relaxed experience if you go with an organized tour. But the hassle is worth it. Iran is a beautiful country full of historical landmarks, home to one of the world's most ancient cultures. And once you get there, you might find out that the ties between Iran and the US go beyond the mistrust between the two governments, as plenty of Iranian-Americans would be happy to tell you.
In everyone's mind, Thailand evokes pristine beaches and green see-through ocean waters, crazy Bangkok bars, and delicious street food, forests populated by exotic animals, and temples that rise gloriously towards the skies. Unfortunately, the number of people who flock to admire such magnificence has boomed, and Americans are the largest non-Asian group visiting the country. They've often been accused of treating Thailand like an amusement park, disrespecting its culture and religious landmarks, and playing a role in animal abuse by taking elephant rides and pictures with heavily sedated tigers. Films like Leonardo di Caprio's The Beach have definitely not helped in promoting a vision of Americans as visitors sensitive to local needs. Today many spots favored by tourists have been shut down so that the local environment can be protected, and there are plenty of community-led programs to save animals and help them return to their natural habitats.
The world's biggest democracy is a place that Americans love to visit. The problem is that from the 1960s onwards, many aspects of Indian culture have been coopted by America and transformed into sellable products. Think of yoga or other religious practices that have become self-help philosophies or of hippies traveling to India to find themselves. The subcontinent also attracts many well-meaning folks who want to help out the street children they have seen in movies like Slumdog Millionaire. These attitudes haven't sat very well with many Indians who don't quite like how Americans think of their country. That, together with the huge economic inequality, leads many locals to treat Americans as walking wallets, which in turn has many returning tourists complaining about being ripped off or of how much people ask for money.
Italy is a great travel destination. The food, the beaches, the wine, the landscapes, the art, the history, and the culture all contribute to making it one of the world's most visited countries in the world. In 2018, more than 200 million people visited Italy and enjoyed its beauty, and 14 million of them were Americans. A truly extraordinary number. Unfortunately, this intense influx of people has transformed cities like Florence, Rome, or Venice. Their city centers have emptied out to make space for hotels, low-quality restaurants, and Airbnbs. Additionally, Americans are often accused of being loud, of not learning the language, stereotyping Italians and Italian culture, littering, and being disrespectful. It's not surprising then that many returning tourists complain about the rudeness of Italians, who might be fed up with seeing their country used as Americans' personal playground.
The years of American military interventions in the Middle-East, as well as the US's strong ties to Israel, have contributed to fostering anti-American sentiments in Jordan. A 2014 survey shows that only 12% of the population are favorable to the United States. This doesn't imply that Jordan is unsafe for Americans. This Middle-Eastern jewel is rich in natural beauties and historical and archeological sites, like world-famous Petra and the Dead Sea. In fact, Jordan is also great as a tourist destination for women traveling alone, and its capital city, Amman, is full of beautiful restaurants, bars, and cute bed and breakfasts. Don't be intimidated by the complex relationship between the two countries and consider a trip to Jordan. As long as you remember to be mindful of local customs and culture, you might even manage to overturn Jordanians' ideas about the average American tourist.
Maybe it isn't so surprising that Germans aren't great lovers of the states. Germany considers itself the leader of the European Union and criticizes America for refusing to take its advice or to coordinate policies. However, this dislike does not necessarily extend to American citizens, who favor Germany as a tourist destination. Despite this, some stereotyping of Americans endures, often the consequence of American participation in global events like Munich's Oktoberfest. Germans think of Americans as loud and hyper-patriotic fast-food eaters, and none of such things sits well with German culture, which centers on respect of others in public space, cares deeply about nutrition, and, given its 20th-century history, doesn't easily approve of strong nationalism. But don't let this stop you from touring this great country. Germans are polite and welcoming and won't stop short of making you feel at home.
Just like Jordan, Lebanon isn't exactly a great fan of US politics in the Middle East. Approval ratings of the US are as low as 34%, and the restrictions imposed in 2012 on international aid have not helped in raising American sentiments. This very religiously and ethnically diverse country is not only neighboring nations that have been torn by dramatic wars, but it's also ongoing a long economic and political crisis. Nevertheless, the Lebanese people are cosmopolitan, love to travel and party, and are incredibly welcoming and friendly. Beirut, nestled between snowy mountains and the Mediterranean sea, is a lively city where you'll find plenty of entertainment. Tourism is essential to Lebanon's GDP, and the country has seen an increase in the number of visitors over the last few years. In 2019, the United States was third in the list of countries that had most of its citizens arriving in Lebanon.
Mexico is America's southern neighbor, and the two countries have a very complicated and long history. Between threats of constructing a wall and the war on drugs, the US has embraced stereotypical and dangerous ideas of Mexico. For their part, Mexicans are not very fond of Americans, given how Americans depict their country, and American tourists don't help that stigma. They are described as loud, aggressive, and ready to use their money to get what they want, no matter how illegal it can be. This, of course, doesn't apply to all, or even most, tourists from across the border, who love to visit Mexico both for its history and its stunning landscapes. Mexican beaches are among the most beautiful in the world, and the local food is a great attraction. US citizens are at the top of the Mexican tourist industry, with more than 12 million people visiting the country in 2017.