Our new American president is leading the people to a lot of questions within our own country.
However, as I’m planning on getting on a plane this Sunday, I wonder how many questions I’m going to have to answer outside my country.
If you left the United States between the years 2000 and 2008, you already know what I’m talking about. (‘member Bush? Yea.. I ‘member…)
While George W. Bush was president, I was constantly under scrutiny by people from around the world. What happened? Why did it happen? How could you let it happen?
Of course, US politics can often have a far-reaching affect on different places around the globe. I understand why people are concerned. Or confused. I was too.
For example, the fact that we have a president who did not win popular vote is completely bewildering to most other nations. This happened with Gore versus Bush, and it happened again with Clinton versus Trump. Its how our system works, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Even when I hear myself explaining it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. And I’m an American.
If you plan on traveling in the next four years, you will likely have to answer questions about US politics. I had to under 8 years of Bush. I had to answer questions when Obama was president as well… (although at a far less frequent rate).
How to Deal With Traveling While American:
Remember, people are curious about how US politics work.
It often seems we are so completed divided right down the center. We have a system of democracy that is unique to our nation. It’s fascinating. It’s exciting. It’s terrifying.
Try not to take this curiosity as aggression or animosity. The majority of the time they simply do not understand what happened. Or they are curious to know your own thoughts on the election or current policies because it’s interesting. And it could affect them.
Speak your truth calmly and quietly.
Whether you voted for Trump or not, getting angry with a stranger does not change the fact that he is the US president. Explain your position, and move on.
You are not expected to a political pundit that understands every nuance of the American political system. I once had a New Zealand fellow ask me to explain (and defend) Bush’s actions around 9/11. I literally had nothing to say except, “I didn’t vote for him.”
Most people realize that not every American votes the same way. They’re not stupid, that’s how voting works. If you do feel like someone is targeting you simply because of your nationality, walk away. There’s no reason to pick a fight.
Do your own research.
If you are really worried about what type of questions you might be asked, be prepared. Having actual facts to present to people can help foster a more beneficial conversation.
In a world of “fake news” and click-bait articles, being educated on what is going on could do some actual good. Understanding how Trump was elected, what he represents and how US citizens feel about it can be a very important part of the conversation.
You are not required to do this, but you might feel more comfortable talking about it when you’re approached and asked questions.
And you will be asked questions. There’s basically no avoiding it.
Feel free to say you don’t wish to discuss politics.
I’ve said it. I’m traveling. I’m having a beer. I don’t want to defend my nation right now, thank you.
It can be exhausting to constantly field questions from people who want to understand how the future of the USA might affect them. And I understand it’s a real concern.
But if you are really tired of it, just politely ask to change the subject. As long as you are respectful, almost no one will force a conversation on you. And that’s OK too.
Expect the worst, hope for the best.
Understand that there is a real possibility that you will encounter anti-American sentiments. Check travel advisories before you book a trip and make sure you have all the visas and necessary documents before you travel.
If you find yourself in that type of situation, it’s probably not the best time to discuss politics anyway. Just get out of there and stay safe.
But don’t be afraid to get on the road. The earth is a big, beautiful place with so much to see and do. Travel might actually help bring us all together, create a better understanding of people different that us and reduce fear of people who live differently.
Don’t let the president stop you from seeing the world.
Be an ambassador for the United States.
When I was traveling in Cuba, my friend and I considered telling everyone we were Canadian (cheers to Canada for being our nicer, friendlier neighbor 😉 ). We heard this was a thing people do…
In the end, we decided to be honest and admit our terrible truth of being American ::gasp!:: Cubans, who have a very real reason not to like the USA, did not harass or ignore us. Completely the opposite, they welcomed us and treated us with kindness.
You have a rare opportunity to present a real face of America to another country. To show that you are open-minded. To represent an America that is friendly and hospitable.
We need more people to proudly state their American citizenship while on the road, not less. We need more people to represent an America that does not include hate, bigotry or sexism.
There will always be a swing back and forth between political parties and political opinions, and like it or not, America has a lot of influence. So be aware, speak kindly and travel wisely.
How do you plan on traveling while American?
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