16 Unique American Traditions That Are Completely Unheard of Abroad

Happy lady

Every culture has its quirks and customs. Yes, the U.S.’s social influence can be far-reaching, but the American way of life is no different. Here are 16 traditions in the States that are unheard of abroad, as noted by one online forum.

1. Garbage Disposal Units

Woman shocked

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Having a garbage disposal unit attached directly below your sink isn’t as common as you might think. This type of disposal system is even illegal in some places since it discharges waste into sewers, and water treatment companies are not always equipped to handle such high waste concentrations.

2. Air Conditioning

Tourist Woman in plane

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Cranking up the AC every time a warm swell arrives just isn’t a thing globally. Sure, some countries use air conditioning more than others, but typically, it’s a luxury that one should appreciate more often.

3. Month/Day/Year

Woman surprised

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In the USA, we use month-day-year (–/–/—-) when writing dates, but around the world people do day-month-year. One American explains, “It’s how we talk. ‘December 22nd 2022’ is what we say, so it makes sense to do mm/dd/yyyy.”

4. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Woman shrugging

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“I thought PBJ sandwiches was a worldwide phenomenon (as a kid)!” shares an American commenter. Don’t worry, I did too. But many people around the world are disgusted by this very American comfort food.

5. Red Solo Cups

Traveler excited

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Yes, now that we have that Toby Keith song stuck in your head, red solo cups are apparently also very American. One British national says, “I literally saw red plastic cups in Poundland (a British Dollar Store) the other day that were labeled ‘American cups.'”

6. Baseball

Man shrugging

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“Growing up, I thought baseball was as widely played as football (soccer) worldwide,” shares an American reader. Another says, “Football (soccer) is the only true global game.”

7. Free Public Bathrooms

Image Credit: diego_cervo/Depositphotos.com.

It’s fairly easy to find a free public bathroom anywhere in the USA. But in other parts of the world, like Europe, you have to pay to use a public restroom.

8. Free Water

Woman hiker with backpack driking from reusable water plastic bottle outdoors in nature

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Some American travelers noticed that they had to pay for water when they were out in some European nations. Sometimes, American tourists had to choose between bottled water or sparkling water.

While water is free in many nations not named the United States of America, an American would be stunned if a domestic restaurant charged them for a glass of water.

9. Sales What?

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One Brit was shocked that the price displayed on the shelf in American stores differs from that at the checkout counter.

It’s called sales tax, bruv, and Americans are perplexed by it, too. Even in a few states where legislators have scrapped the sales tax, they typically shuffle that tax elsewhere.

10. Texas-Sized Portions

Pizza time. Handsome smiling women eating pizza, having fun together in the restaurant. Consumerism, food, lifestyle concept

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Let’s face it, “America” has become a synonym for “fat.” Europeans may wonder from afar why Americans struggle so mightily with their weight. When those Europeans dine in American restaurants, it becomes apparent (as soon as the food hits the table) why the U.S. has become the Land of the Steak and Cheese, and Home of the Hot Fudge Parfait.

11. Expecting the Waiter to Bring You the Bill

Barista serving customer in coffee shop

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One American who traveled to Australia waited longer than a crocodile’s tail (Croikey!) for the check to arrive. After almost 20 minutes, the diner finally called the waiter, only to find out the bill was waiting at the hostess counter. Apparently, the pay-when-you-go model is more common in several other cultures than in the U.S.

12. American Holidays

young woman eating with food in restaurant

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

You may be sorely mistaken if you’re expecting local restaurants in France, Dubai, or Bali to offer Thanksgiving dinner during your November vacation.

13. Pre-Pay Gas Pumps

Unhappy man at the gas station

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Not only may you hear English-speaking foreigners calling gasoline “petrol,” but you may also be confused that the gas starts flowing from the pump before you’ve paid. Virtually every gas station in the U.S. abandoned the “trust me, I’ll pay you after I pump” system decades ago.

14. Tipping

Waitress takes the tip. The waiter female receives a tip from the client at the hotel bar. The concept of service

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you’ll know that a table of diners with detectable accents may as well be Chernobyl. The waiter will go in if they absolutely have to, but many foreigners’ unfamiliarity with tipping means that servers often get stiffed.

15. Fahrenheit and Inches

Woman surprised face with open mouth and big eyes.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you’re traveling out of the United States, you better get used to Celsius and meters. What, you didn’t read the classic European novel Celsius 451? Or see that British movie about the football-playing prison squad, The Longest Meter? 

As the rest of the world proceeds in metric harmony, America continues to trudge along to its own beat, foot by foot.

16. The Greek System

Diverse group of young people have lively conversation as sit in queue, use modern gadgets for different goals: communication, entertainement, searching information, surfing social networks.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a frat in Germany. You can get plenty of brats, but not so many frats. Good luck tracking down a sorority in Zimbabwe or Iran. “Rush Week” means an entirely different thing in Spain. It typically involves a scrum of horned-up animals tearing through the city with no regard for laws or decency—OK, maybe it’s not so often from the American Greek university system after all.

10 Cities That Hold the Title for “Best Mexican Food” in the U.S.

Woman traveler eating in L.A. restaurant

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Who doesn’t love Mexican food?! Over here, we live for tacos. According to a recent online discussion, here are what people think are the best U.S. cities for Mexican cuisine — in no particular order.

10 Cities That Hold the Title for “Best Mexican Food” in the U.S.

15 Epic Travel Experiences Around the World People Swear By, Have You Been?

indian holi festival

Image Credit: Abhishek Sah Photography/shutterstock.

The world has no shortage of epic experiences. Every country is ripe with adventure if you have an idea of your interests and are willing to look. For those wondering where to start the search, here are 15 travel experiences people in one online community swear by.

15 Epic Travel Experiences Around the World People Swear By, Have You Been?

15 American Foods Non-Americans Think Are Completely Bizarre, Weird, or Disgusting

disgusted woman

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Sometimes, we think our food choices are ordinary until an outsider comes along and points out it is not. These 15 American foods have been described as bizarre, weird, or disgusting by non-Americans who’ve tried and tasted them. Are you surprised by the list?

15 American Foods Non-Americans Think Are Completely Bizarre, Weird, or Disgusting

15 Incredible Places in the U.S. You Might Not Have Realized Were UNESCO Sites

Woman traveling with map.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

There’s nothing better than discovering there’s even more to a place than you thought. Whether you know it or not, these 15 incredible places in the U.S. are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and all worth visiting.

15 Incredible Places in the U.S. You Might Not Have Realized Were UNESCO Sites

15 Travels Destinations “So Difficult” To Visit They’re Worthy of Your Bucket List


Image Credit: zhudifeng/Depositphotos.com.

Sometimes, you have to “risk it for the biscuit” (as we say in South Africa) which travelers often do to get to a beautiful or bucket-list destination. These 15 off-the-beaten-track destinations are so challenging to get to that it’s an achievement when you reach them. 

15 Travels Destinations “So Difficult” To Visit They’re Worthy of Your Bucket List

Where indicated, some image courtesy of Depositphotos.com.

Source: Reddit

Posted in

Sam Mire

Sam Mire is a freelance writer who has manned a variety of beats over nearly a decade in the literary biz. He has spent weeks in the Alaskan wildlands, immersed himself in the world of Florida's homeless population, covered live sporting events, and served as a linchpin for media outlets in the legal, tech, and entertainment spaces. Sam has been published in Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, AP News, Fox News, and, most notably, Wealth of Geeks. In his free time, he enjoys boxing, woodwork, petting his dog, and reveling in good company.

1 Comment

  1. Burt Randall on May 13, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    This was an interesting article.

    European culture is sure different than ours.

Leave a Comment