First, Time magazine (via Yahoo) has an article up about the best and worst tourists in the world and, surprise, the "ugly American" isn't the worst domestic or foreign tourist. A survey of thousands of hotel workers in the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Canada and the USA found the French to be the rudest of tourists. Americans weren't far behind.
De Roux explains how external factors similarly account for why Americans wind up as the biggest-spending and best-tipping tourists, while Germans and the French are among the worst penny-pinchers. "Our findings show the average French employee will get 37 vacation days spread over seven trips in 2008, versus 14 for an American - who won't even take them all," de Roux believes. "That means the French tourist will more tightly budget his or her spending over more trips, while the American spends freely on the one or two vacations taken all year."
By contrast, poll finds the French and Americans similar in being perceived as critical and rude when they travel - though for different reasons. The same local attractions that make France the world's top destination for 92 million foreign visitors each year, says de Roux, also explains why over 85% of French vacation in-country - and wind up spoiled by it when they leave. "When they go abroad, French travellers demand the same quality they'd get at home," de Roux says. "Americans, by contrast, demand the same exceptional service they are used to at home, which is why they rank as the loudest, most inclined to complain, and among the least polite."
Makes sense to me.
Now, for something truly impressive, the Seattle Times has an article today about a 95-year old man who, two years ago drove his Cadillac from Washington State to Panama. Then, this spring, drove that same Cadillac all the way to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
"I don't drink whiskey, chase girls or bark at the moon anymore," said George, who lives in Lynnwood. "There's no place else to spend my money."
And as a widower, "I have no wife to say you can't do it."
"This car has been as far south as you can go and as far north as you can go," said George, who was raised in Kansas but moved to Seattle while serving in the Navy and never left.
George, who lost one of his eyes in a kamikaze attack on his warship during World War II, pulls out his Alaska maps, where he scratched the mileage as he completed his nine-day adventure: Lynnwood to Prince George, B.C., to Watson Lake and Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. Tok Junction, Alaska, to Fairbanks. Up the Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay. And back home.
He figures he put 600 miles on his car each day. Asked how much his trip cost, he said it's all on plastic and he won't know until the bills arrive. "If I'd added it all up, it
would have spoiled the trip."
Now that's an elder we can all respect. Read the full account of his story right here.