Be careful of who you talk to
You may think that you don’t look like a foreigner, but to someone who spends their entire day looking for them, you more than likely stand out quite well to them.
Depending on where you visit you could deal with some shady people 1 on 1, or you could be distracted by one and have another trying to steal your wallet. In popular tourist places in Europe they’re now finding a lot of people coming from either Africa or South East Asia to try to sell things to tourists.
Quite often the things they will have for sale are of extremely low quality that may not be apparent when they are showing it to you. Sometimes they’ll show you something and try to have a conversation with you so that someone else can try to steal your wallet from you. If you have any actual interest in something from someone who approaches you on the street it is best to do it from a position where people cannot sneak up behind you if possible.
The other main issue from these street walking vendors is that once they put something in your hand some will consider it a sale. It can be difficult to return the item to them. I have personally seen this with a half dead flower in one situation and on a friendship bracelet that they put on my cousin. With the flower the man followed us for over 100 meters wanting money before we just put the flower down. With the friendship bracelet we made it 100% clear that he was not getting money from us and he finally pulled it from my cousins wrist. Knowing exactly what he was trying to do I told him it was against my religion to wear jewelry (it helps that I don’t actually wear any).
If you absolutely feel like you need to buy something from them, make sure you don’t take their first offer. They will ALWAYS come down on price. And if they put something in your hand and will not take it back, put the item down someplace and quickly walk away.
Don’t ask for substitutions at restaurants
The phrase “what do you think this is, a restaurant?” is not a thing outside of the US. If you want a substitution expect both difficulty having them understand it, and then paying more for this. Outside of the US most people just order what is on the menu and like it.. Or they go to a different restaurant with a different menu.
If you go to a particular restaurant often enough for them to know you, then you might be able to get substitutions easier, but it will still likely cost you.
Don’t expect amazing service
It may sound mean when you first think about it, but think about the only reason why you might receive great service in the US. For many of the wait staff, the amount of money they earn per table depends on the level of service they provide.
Outside of America, most countries only tip as a bonus if at all for exceptional service. In some countries the service may be worse than others. Countries like Italy are largely regarded as having some of the slowest service in the world.
Also in most places outside of the US they won’t even ask you if you are ready for the check, you must ask for it. So if you are in a rush, make sure that you ask for it once you know you will not order anything else.
Expect chaos on the roads if you rent a car
Something that many Americans will comment on when they make their first visit abroad is that it seems like obeying traffic laws are optional. There almost seems to be no order to things, and it can be a difficult experience for many people.
Making it worse the driving lanes are often much smaller than the wide lane American roads. This is about the same time they realize why all of the cars seem much smaller than back home.
In some countries like Italy or Thailand it seems like there are even less rules or order to people riding on motorcycles or scooters. They seemingly can do anything they want in front of police with no consequences. Again with the narrower roads it is something to pay attention to if you decide to drive a car while you are in one of these countries.
Many expats will opt for public transportation or an Uber as it is often easier than dealing with traffic, and the added hassle of trying to figure out parking while in a foreign country.
Smokers seem to be everywhere
If you are a non-smoker, you will quickly find that it seems you are in the minority. Most places around the world have no laws prohibiting smoking in public places. In some countries they will still let you smoke indoors in restaurants, although this is seems to be in fewer and fewer places.
In many parts of Europe and Asia you will see many people walking along side of you that are smoking. The worst thing is if it affects you it will keep you from sitting in the best seats of a cafe or restaurant as these are all located outside where the smokers can smoke at will.
Do you look and act like a tourist? Expect to pay more. If you can speak the local language (or read it too) then you have a better chance at getting the regular price.
A friend once told me a story about how he was shopping for something expensive and there was a sign pointed out to him by a friend he was with. It read “if you can read this sign the prices are x% less for you”. The shop obviously made a lot of money from tourists, but didn’t want to discourage the locals by charging them the tourist prices. It pays to know languages.
Another issue that people face is the closer you are to a tourist attraction the more you will pay for anything. If you can avoid buying anything within 1km of a tourist attraction as this will be where the prices will be the worst. It is a must if you want an authentic dining experience as most locals will not be willing to pay the tourist prices for the food served. It is very likely that they will also rush you so that they can seat more people.