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The Travel Psychologist Is in the News Today:

The Souvenirist

Why Can’t American Tourists Just Blend in?

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Commentary by The Travel Psychologist which Appeared in Chris Elliott’s Blog, “The Souvenirist”

THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN

“To me, it is not so much the ‘push’ to blend in, or not to be so much an American, as if there is something to be ashamed of by being an American overseas, as it is the ‘pull’ to be more intercultural, internationally-minded, or more sensitive to the history, culture, and customs of other countries.

“As a tiger cannot be expected so much to be able to change his stripes, neither can a ‘tourist’ be expected to simply morph into a ‘traveler’.

“When one gains more worldly travel experience, i.e., when one learns to be more multi-cultural in terms of his attitudes, behaviors, and experiences—and becomes, in a sense more ‘worldly’–then it is no surprise that he or she is now more of a genuine international traveler.

“The psychological baggage, bubble, envelop, or cocoon–if you will–that we bring with us from our mundane lives back home and which we carry along with us besides our physical baggage and suitcases–this is the protected ‘blind’ ‘American’ cultural wrapping that leads us to behave overseas ‘on automatic’ as we do back home–slowly begins to drop away as we gain more international experience through more meaningful and deeper interactions with the new cultures that greet us.

“It is then and only then that we have begun to become real ‘travelers.’ And, it’s interesting and funny . . . that when that time comes, there is no ‘fear,’ concern or undue attention any more to being or not being too ‘American’ or too much of a ‘tourist!'”

(For a full discussion of being a ‘beautiful-’ or an ‘ugly’ ‘American’ see the expanded discussion of these topics under the same names elsewhere in this blog.)