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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Travel Tips for Americans....

Travel Tips for Americans

Since I will be going on an international trip in a few months, I've been reading some travel tips about packing light, what to take, and such. One of the tips I came across regarding international travel was a bit surprising to me:

"Try not to look like an American."

Here I thought that being American was a good thing. Now I find that the world does not think as much of us as we think of ourselves. So, how do I avoid being obvious about being American? My native language is English and there isn't much I can do about that other than trying to learn a few essential foreign words, such as yes, no, thank you, and "Where is the toilet?".

Tourists are supposed to wear comfortable shoes that are well broken in and a hat to prevent sunstroke in the desert heat. "Don't wear a baseball cap or white tennis shoes, or you will look American," according to the travel tips. Fortunately, I own a pair of comfortable black shoes and I don't wear baseball caps. Honey will have to leave his favorite Penn State cap at home, though, or become an ugly American.

T-shirts with logos or names of sports teams are also another dead give away. There go all of honey's shirts out the proverbial window. He loves to wear Penn State or Steelers shirts as people notice and comment and he gets to tell them that he is from Pittsburgh . How can he carry on a conversation in Egypt if he can't talk about Pittsburgh?

Other things that will mark you as American are jogging suits, flip flops, jeans, red, white and blue outfits, and purple tights. Other counties are more conservative in dress, and many a travel tipster advises that shorts are not acceptable in many places, regardless of how hot the climate is. The way my legs look, I don't blame them.

So, as I understand it, we are to go incognito unless required to show passports. It is hard for Americans to understand that the rest of the world does not love us. Somehow, we are all held responsible for the failed foreign policies that are unpopular with the rest of the world, especially the Muslim world.

I once heard that it is best to leave any government or military identification at home when you fly internationally and be an ordinary American citizen on vacation. The reason for that? If your plane is hijacked by terrorists, they will kill you first if they think you work for the government. That's certainly a sobering thought. Terrorism, period, is a sobering thought.

Egypt is America's best friend in the Muslim world and one of the oldest civilizations on earth. Other travelers say they feel perfectly safe there. There are armed "security guards" escorting groups of tourists on tour in Egypt and they have travel police. I'm not sure if they are protecting us from them or them from us. Maybe both.

They don't need to worry about me. I only want to see the pyramids, ancient ruins, antiquities and learn about the past. Any foreign visitor should expect to respect the traditions of another country. That is common courtesy, as well as common sense.

One good thing, people who have been there recently say that the Egyptian people love Obama, and there are no travel warnings out for Egypt. And if anyone thinks white tennis shoes and purple tights are bad, it's only because they haven't seen my passport picture.

Regardless, I am going to practice walking like an Egyptian.

Copyright 2009 Sheila Moss

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

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