The 5 American Habits Travel Stopped for Me
Yes, I am addicted to the emotional rush of travel, when I enter a new country, I am high. I now realize I gave up five “Americanisms,” in exchange for the lifestyle of travel. Living in many countries is doing something new every day of my life; this is a life worth talking about.
The vast majority of people who stop travel, and return to the USA so they can resume the American culture, and perform this list. We return to where it is comfortable, to return to where we fit in, where we socially know the rules of society, Life is good in the USA, it is comfortable.
(This is a scene from Army Wives, they have lost the plot, when a father and daugher need to open their appointment books to schedule a time to share dinner...- Truly, they have no time for family.)
After 15 years of perpetually traveling the planet, and living in 90 countries, these 5 types of behavior now make me feel uncomfortable; I can never return to the USA, it is too uncomfortable. I do not need to start these behaviors again, but I am uncomfortable listening.
This is a list of 5 things you can do in almost any country, but truly is difficult to do if you are moving constantly and living out of a suitcase.
1. Buying: I cannot buy things, I have no place to store them, and because I do not return home, even sending things home is not fulfilling, I will never be able to enjoy what I purchased. I have stopped the habit of consuming. This alone makes my money go 10 times further, I live on what I need and not on what I want, and it is true freedom from want.
2. Restaurant Cursing: This is an American tradition; the desire to plan where we are going to eat tonight is a dominant thought in most people from the USA. I can do this in most countries, but refuse to do so, because it just would make me fat. Personally, I like to go to restaurants where the food is great, and that is almost impossible as a traveler, most tourist food is horrible. Plus, it take up 1-3 hour to eat in this fashion, I enjoy having the extra time, and eating by myself, as an independent travel is not the same as sharing with another person. This is a very unhealthy mental preoccupation that is annoying and makes me feel uncomfortable, I do not need to focus on eating, and I do not want it to define my day,
By giving up this habit, I am happier, and again, eating is about 20 percent of money American spent, this is a lot of money; I spend about 5 dollars per day eating, even in the USA.
3. Working Hard: This is an American thing, or a developed country problem, and yes it is a problem. 20 percent of the planet works like army ants, they never stop, they look for work, this couple with the need to buy, and they need to work. The other 80 percent of the people on the planet sit inside their business, talking all day, barely moving, doing the absolute minimum, and having the absolute minimum. This need to work is a cold country problem, nobody dies in the tropical climates for lack of money, therefore all you need is food, and the world has an overabundance of food.
What do I do, if I am not workin? I give more time to friends, and family, I have the time to be a friend, and I have more friends.
Bragging or telling me how much you work, tells me you are poor, or you cannot manage your time or money, it is a fools life.
4. Appointments: The need to schedule, the preoccupation with time, the need to use optimize every minute of the day is an Americanism, or first world thing. Generally, anyone that travel knows the majority of the planet just does not care about time. The USA is time poor, it is one of the poorest on the planet, truly sad to think you have no time for your family, and you have need to schedule time for your children.
5. Guilty for doing nothing: I call this the “Human Doing” problem, I am not sure who did it, but someone is to blame. People feel guilty, they can be happily content watching the sunset, and suddenly say,
“I need to quit wasting time.”
When I see one or more of these habits in any person living or traveling abroad, and I sense they are obsessed, thinking too much. Then, I know it is just a matter of time before they feel the urge to return to the USA.
Living in the USA is good, there is nothing bad about doing the five things above, and it is your choice. I just hope to enlighten you, to open your mind to some lifestyle choices, which could set you free.
I like to go to nice restaurant, but only after an introspective moment, and asking myself, is this making me a better person, or it is an old and boring habit, that defines my life.
Life is good.
Andy Graham in Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa
I am here, and you are there, for a good reason, and I suspect it is due to one or more of the five Americanisms above.
Bill99 from has written 135 comments
Lot of truth here today Andy.
One of my favorit comedy movies taht helped me to lkearn what NOT to do as a traveler early on is:
"If It's Tuesday this must Be Belgium."
Very amusing and very true. I always get a laugh out of 40, 50 people pouring out of a tour bus
and rushing around, looking for their tour guide with their little flag and getting in line to hurry up
to see something they will learn little about and forget anyway because of the rush.
A waste of money, pleasure and sometimes health.