Discussion: 'Americans Are on Another Planet': Why We're Terrible at Vacation

Discussion for article #232008

Excellent read and so very, very true. Speaking as an American itineraries are a waste of time; spur of the moment activities are the answer.
If you don’t meet the people, you haven’t been there.


This is a terrifically written article… Please bring this writer back! Excellent.


NEXT On The Slice:
Why Russians Don’t Make Good Neighbors
Why The French Are Snotty
Why Canadians Are Too Nice
Why The Chinese Don’t Want Their Freedom
Why Egyptians Smell
Why The Greeks Are Shitty At Economics
Why New Yorkers Are All Rude
Why Mexicans Are After YOUR Job
Why The South Is Racist
Why The North Is Elitist
Why Germans Are All Drunks
Why Israelis Are Apartheid Thugs
Why The Palestinians Are Terrorists
Why The Swiss…uh…okay, I’ve got nothing on the Swiss.
Why Texas Is…Texas

Have I left off anyone? If I have, I’m sure TPM will cover it.


Great article. As a frequent traveler to Brazil, a credo I’ve come to live by on my trips there seems apropos here. My trips there never go as planned, but I find I could never have planned them to go as well as they usually do, when I let go and relax and just let events guide things.

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I personally love to take weeks off when I am not filling it up with activities. Vacationing like you have ADD is not a recipe for relaxation.


Very nicely written column. A pleasure to read. Thanks, Rosie :smiley:

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The Swiss are too cheesy.

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I thought that going on a vacation means do whatever one wants and likes to do in the allotted time. So, in my opinion, there is no standard for the “perfect vacation” that is acceptable to everyone around the globe, therefore claiming that Americans are terrible at vacationing is narrow minded and, quite honestly, it feels like the usual cheap shots anti-Americanism of those who think themselves better than us.


Here’s a crazy idea: people on vacation should do what they want to do.

The admonition to imitate the author’s preferences is a bit too precious.

It’s easy to look at tour buses and mock Americans pursuing over-scheduled itineraries abroad, but we should keep in mind
a) Most Americans traveling really don’t rely on this kind of tour
b) Americans aren’t the only ones who use this kind of tour. Indeed, Japanese tour buses are far more common in Europe than American tour buses.

Having lived in Germany for two years, I can relate that Germans have the same kind of self-image about how they are viewed abroad as Americans do. And if you think “everybody hates Americans”, think about how Germans feel in Europe! The English also mock themselves for being isolated on their island and refusing to learn foreign languages.

I’m not sure these kinds of generalizations are all that useful. I prefer travel articles that offer suggestions about things to do, rather than those than seem to exist to try to reinforce the author’s sense of superiority.


At my last law firm job, I hardly ever took any vacation. Although I never kept track, my best guess is that I took a total of less than two weeks over the course of nine years. That’s total. Less than 1 day per year. I know the longest that I ever took off was 4 days in a row. That was when I got married. The reason I didn’t take vacation? A general feeling that I couldn’t relax anyway because I had an obligation to handle my cases and nobody else would in my absence. Also, and I think this is true for many people, there is this sense that if you leave you won’t be able to come back. If you live in poverty long enough, you won’t want to risk it.


No please!!! Not ANOTHER site that is going to tell us we’re doing it all wrong!


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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So what exactly is the point of going halfway around the world to sleep in the sun, stare at water and eat and drink? These could all be done within an hour of most people’s homes. Waste of time to actually take in some history while you are in a foreign place?


America is the only advanced economy in the world that does not have government-mandated, paid time off

The right’s dislike of social programs, fair wages and unions caps 100+ years of mostly obscured American social justice history and has tended to limit vacation time altogether much less the paid kind, the Slice should check it out.
While a bus tour of Europe sounds horrible to me, it was the only way my elderly, middle class parents were able to have the trip of their lifetimes without the exotic foods their tastes and medical conditions demand. Leathery, sun-tanned Euros should just take their money politely and deal with it.


Well, Floyd and me, we talked this article over, and Miss Spinks don’t understand that God created America as the greatest country on the face of His earth, so there’s no need to leave, and just be disappointed by all those other places. And we don’t plan to give those ungrateful foreign people our hard-earned money that we won on the lottery. No, we like visiting the grands, seeing our beautiful national parks in our RV, and spending time in Las Vegas and Disneyworld, real places with real friendly folks, not all them snotty people in Europe that don’t respect us, but just want our dollars.

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Wow, I didn’t realize how uncool I was…


Funny, here in San Francisco, you can go to the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Coit Tower, Union Square or any number of other tourist traps and see boatloads of foreign tourists doing exactly what this author chides Americans for doing.

In her attempt to lecture us about how Americans do travel wrong, she seemingly forgot to look up from her laptop and consider if it’s not just Americans who (occasionally) travel this way.


I’d like to know why TPM is terrible at web design. The new site is awful.


Did i actually say any of those things? Please show me where?