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The Art of Being a Gracious Guest

My friend and I are coming to Scotland in May of 2017 and one of my biggest worries is, "how NOT to be that obnoxious American tourist". We are from Michigan and this is the first trip across the pond for both of us. We're doing a self driving tour through Scotland and Ireland over 15 days. Our first and last two nights are planned, hotels/castles are booked, but the rest will be where ever we land for the day. We have a list of absolute must-see's but we want to be able to do or see whatever catches our eye.
Does anyone have tips/advice on how not to be that American? I'd hate to leave thinking I could have been a better visitor.
Thanks <3


  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Hey @Cincei, the fact that you're asking this question tells me personally that you'll be more than fine. Scotland is an incredibly welcoming country and there are many American tourists visiting every year with no complaints from either side (from my experience) and great memories.

    I've lived in the US for 5+ years and Scotland for the last 2 so I can tell immediately who's visiting from the US. The vast majority are polite and respectful and that just about makes the perfect traveller. Culturally, there are only 2 things that a really small percentage (<1%) of US tourists do that may come off as "obnoxious".

    If its a group of people from the US travelling and they're loud together, that's immediately visible, specially in remote scenic settings or a tour. And I don't mean loud in a bad sense, generally the American accent is spoken louder on average than the British accent. I'd suggest just to tone down a bit only if you feel you can run into this situation.

    The other minor thing that's visible sometimes is that US tourists find other US tourists and form cliques. I get it, makes one feel at home so far from home and there's nothing wrong with that. IMHO a trip is more enriching when talking to locals and a diverse group of travellers.

    Lastly, half of my many, many conversations with US tourists on a monthlong backpacking trip had to do with Trump. Locals will ask you about your thoughts on Trump. It's just gonna happen, am just letting you know ahead of time :wink:

    Have a wonderful Scotland trip next year, its a magical country that I hope lives up to your expectations. Admins, if you feel my response has crossed any lines, feel free to delete.

    P.S. Go Gators & Go Seahawks
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • CinceiCincei Member
    Thank you so much for your input. I will keep those things in mind. Neither of us are particularly boisterous so the volume level shouldn't be an issue. Also, while it may be nice to see fellow Americans, the whole idea behind not having a structured itinerary is to be able to interact with the locals. I'd really like to immerse myself into the culture while we're there. I can't imagine that Scotland and her people would be anything but spectacular. I already don't want my vacation to end. <3

    I'm going to have to think long and hard about a diplomatic response to any Trump questions. I am a true Libra and can see both sides of that argument. LOL

    P.S. My ancestors were proud Scots and it carries through to my veins but I'm also Irish so...
    GO ND!! :)
    (so glad this football season is over lol)
  • My husband and I, both Canadian, toured Ireland's West Coast with a busload of Americans 2 years ago and found the experience lively and very pleasant.  I admire your questions about how not to be "ugly" Americans...We kept our opinions about politics to ourselves and happily celebrated the 4rth with them and our 1st ourselves.
  • fishyprofishypro Member ✭✭✭
    Hi @Cincei, you shouldn't be worried about anything. Scotland is a very friendly place to be. I have lived and worked in several different countries and I have never more felt at home than in Scotland, and neither my wife or I are Scottish.
    It would be interesting to know what your "must-sees" are, if you are willing to share that information with us. Maybe we can help you with other things to see & do that are more of the beaten track. I personally do not like crowds so I can probably give you information on where to go to avoid them.
    Best regards
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