American Flag Patches Sewn on Backpack

Here are a couple of photos and a video explaining how to install USA Flags on a Traveler Backpack. Yesterday, I had American Flags patches sewn on to one my backpack. I am sure many people ask why?

We are supposed to have the stars pointing at our heart; I needed to buy two types of flags, a left and a right to have sewn on the bag, but at Army Surplus stores.

Orland, Indiana - United States of America - Friday, October 30, 2009
Travel Gear

I have installed two American Flags on the larger backpack with the stars facing my heart as I wear the bag. I needed to purchase two types of USA flags. I also put one on the camera and computer bag.

Best Reason
To meet the locals faster, by having the American Flags the locals can see that I am probably from the USA and speak English. If they speak English, they often come up and try to practice with me, or provide help.

Repellant to Angry-at-American People
This almost exclusively applies to Europeans; I never experience anger at me being an American in the under-developed countries. There are countries with strong feelings or angry at the USA. If they see the Flags, they would label me quickly a “Nationalist” or “Patriot” and assume I am a complete wanker. This helps me to avoid conversations with this type of person looking for an argument.

Meet Girls
Anyway, I look at it, the USA is the best passport to attract women in the developing world, and it is the citizenship-chasing passport of choice.

Do Not Screw with USA Warning
The world is corrupt, for example, Mexico is incredibly corrupt and their country would lose millions of not billions of tourist dollars if the USA stopped visiting. Government officials and locals often give the USA tourist special status, we get more the red carpet treatment and they try to ingratiate themselves more, they want the big American spenders. Overall, the governments of many countries instruct their citizens to not screw with the Americans.

I am American
I am proud to be from the USA, it has given me the freedom to earn enough money to travel and a passport that allows me to enter 99 percent of all countries almost without restrictions.

Translate my Situation or Problem
By having the Flag on my back, in a non-verbal way I can translate my situation to immigration, to locals, they know quickly the situation without speaking for example Chinese.

Prove it is OK
Many USA citizens are weak willed; they believe that having the USA Flag on the back will invite problems. Under this assumption, they wear Canadian Flags never learning it is truly safe, they validated their assumptions with no proof. Lying to people is one of the most dangerous acts a traveler can perform; the planet does not like liars. If you are afraid, do not put any flag on your bag and be honest, it is the wisest path.

Why not have the flag on the bag?

I am sure there is some country where it is a problem; I have not found the place in my 11 plus years and 85 countries of travel. I was in Iraq, which was zero problem. I would say the bigger problem is with the Travelers abroad from Europe, the not-so-educated bunch, sort of the Brits-Abroad bunch or the Euro-Trash, kind of the trailer trash of Europe. I normally do not travel mainstream tourist destinations where they go, I am going to Haiti in the next few days, and I will not encounter this type of person. In mainstream dread, tattoo, smoke a joint countries like Thailand or Guatemala are a bigger problem. Generally, they have to be brave enough to open their mouths; I am not accustomed to having people being disrespectful of my mother or my country in that order.


If you do not see a video here it is because you are reading by email, click here to see video.

I strongly advise you to stay home if you are too afraid to tell the truth, the world welcomes people they trust. I wonder what an immigration official would do if he or she saw a Canadian Flag on my back as I went through immigration at the border?

“You have a USA passport, why do you have a Canadian Flag?”
Honestly works great, if for a change you happened to try it.

American Flag Patches Sewn on Backpack


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All good, fair and balanced points. I've only experienced directly ignorant/put down statements from Brits myself. I just mark them as uncultured and ignore it. They dont know me well enough to generalize, and it comes off to me as bad social etiquette. Coming from a supposedly educated and well traveled brits, I tend to find this both ironic and funny. But then I do cringe when I see idiot americans abroad. But then there are idiots from every nation abroad, and so its a wash. We just draw the ire, more than most, because of our cultural influence and our governments' politics.

However, I do encounter 'envy' type of negativity from other countries' citizens that have a large amount of americans as expats or tourists. When they get annoyed for even petty reasons, stuff comes out like: "You think that your american and can do as you please". There are a lot of "rejects" working/traveling abroad (many drawn into the ESL industry), and therefore maybe they have a skewed experience with an expat pool including many atypical Americans. Also, many Americans do not attempt to learn languages, even when in country for a while. I don't know why this is. Overall, I don't know how much of this generalizing is their direct experience vs a stereotype. I can only vouch for myself. Every individual should work to represent his country in the best possible way when interacting in foreign countries.

Great to see how you carry your gear, I have been wondering for a while now about carrying that bucket.

Shawn, I still have the bucket inside, or my five gallon vegetable oil container with the top cut off. It protects all my electronics gear, it would be one of the last things I give up. I was sad, I had to leave my poncho, but I know I can buy large sheets of plastic in most countries. I will show the whole inside soon, if I allow myself in videos this becomes a lot easier.

I am not happy, I am not going to be as comfortable in rooms. I retrofit my travelers nest and make a poor room into a good or great room.

I watch the video, I had pillows inside the packs and was moving them around in a way not possible fully loaded.

Shawn, I have the "A Dash of Style" book in my pack you recommended, the only book I am carrying besides the two guidebooks. Maybe I can learn how to write... hehehe or better yet, how to punctuate and not lose my style.


All good points on the pro side.

To add to the question of
Why not have the flag on the bag?

What comes to mind are those Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008, where they specifically targeted US and UK passport holders. If you happened to be in a similar unfortunate situation, you may not be able avoid the overall problem, but the flags could cause you to be among the earliest victims.

Buying a little time just might save your skin.

I do like the idea of having it be a place to hide emergency money.


If a person stays in a Five Star or well know chain they become targets for either kidnappings or terrorist. I would think kidnapping is a bigger probability than terrorist. I suppose I would get hit by lightning before the terrorist. However, the world has a kidnapping thing going on.

A person who stays in a Five Star Hotel has more more on them, and has access to more money, the criminals are not stupid, they want targets that are sure things. Fortunately for me, the whole world volunteers to be robbed and I am not.

Truly the flags are a non-issue, they only annoy the Europeans who are outside of Europe.

You are the reason the world gives American travellers grief. You are too full on. You over-engineer everything, try too hard and make a scene everywhere you go. I know not all Americans do this but it seems much more prevalent among them. To highlight my point you have a bright red bag and a padlock that looks like it came off a bank vault. You will no doubt immediately disagree with this but you may appreciate an outside perspective from someone who has travelled a fair bit and met many travelling Americans. I'm not saying I find Americans to be unpleasant, it's just they have a certain character you don't seem to find anywhere else in the world and that a lot of people aren't used to.

Craig this is "cultural blindness."

You are blind, you cannot see that difference in cultures is OK, You want me to become like yours, because only yours is OK, all others are bad, this is not acceptance of cultural diversity.

Best of luck in Haiti Andy...the plants you pictured in New York City are ornamental kale, cabbage family, also edible when cooked... i'm still here in illinois but probably back to the Philippines in December...regards, Steve PS - I liked your arguments in favor of the US Europe you see so many (fake) Canadian flags on the young turistas...

Hi Andy I just wanted to let you know that I have been enjoying your travel blog for a couple week now. I havent traveled abroad for may years now. Your pictures and post from the Phillipines were great.

Thank You
Bill C

Hi, I am British and i've got to say that i find your comments about british travellers being "uncultured" and ignorant pretty offensive. A statement like that is actually a little bit ignorant on your part.
I think youve got to make it clear who your referring to. Yeh its true there is a strerotype about the behaviour of "brits abroad." But theres a big difference between british people on a two week holiday for sun sea sand, and a good time and travellers i.e backpackers or gap year students or people going to experience different cultures and environments. And im not excusing the way some british people abroad behave but yeh they do get a bit out of hand when they go away, they get over excited we dont have any of those things in britain (sun sea sand.) But i think it shows ignorance on your part to tar all british travellers with the same brush.

as for the "not so educated bunch." I dont feel education has any influence on your personal conduct abroad. i think thats a little judgmental dont you think? especially when you dont seem all that eloquent to me. Ive never been to university/college and i respect other cultures and opinions etc.

some of your opinions in this post dont seem to imply some of the qualities you would imagin would be instilled in a person through travelling the world such as , cultural acceptance, understanding and wisdom.

and about the flag.

its completely unnessecary. visiting a country is about their culture not yours. and yes in a european country or among certian people it would probably attract more negative attention than positive. not because your american. but because the act of actually wearing the flag itself is the eptiome of an issue they have with some Americans. The need to arrive anywhere and announce "I'm an American and I'm here." The reasons youve given are about status and some of them are pretty distasteful.

Also as a girl its a bit distasteful saying that it would attract women. fair enough if your saying youd appear exotic and interesting.But to say proudly it would help you pull women who have lived in poverty because theyd see you as a way out out is really disrespectful.

Theres no specific danger you could be in from not having your nationality on display. However there are some dangers in doing so.

In many countries whether its true or not westerners are considered to be wealthy. that flag says I'm american, I'm a tourist , Ive got money and is an invitation to thieves and muggers.

It also says in counries such as Colombia where illegal armed militant groups operate, I'm american, I'm of political value as a hostage etc

there are a million situations in which it could be dangerous

im sorry if that sounded a bit too agressive but i think in general the benefits of wearing it are more superficial than the dangers and that personally even coming from the uk, a country that the world in general seems to have less of an agenda with, i wouldnt do it.

Also. "In mainstream dread, tattoo, smoke a joint countries like Thailand or Guatemala are a bigger problem."

Thats a real contradiction. if were stereo-typing here, which we are, the types of people who have dreads tattoos and smoke joints are usually the"brits abroad, euro trash" drunken boob flashing type are they.

and referring to Thailand (A COUNTRY) not a fashion statement, as "mainstream" is a bit wierd dont you think.

Iraq, Haiti, Colombia, Jordon, Mali, East Timor during a coup. walking in Lima Peru at night, I have done many dangerous things.

I agree, you should not have a flag on your bag, but I have two. This is all about situational awareness, and staying away from liberal from the USA....

The best thing about the USA Flag is getting rid of annoying tourist.

Tourist Repellant


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