Reading Ned's post on tacky tourists reminds me of an idea I had a few years back, while walking from the main Kyoto train station to the hotel in which I would be staying. Damn, I should take cabs more often, so I could get a paid writing gig at the New York Times, spouting bullshit anecdotes about worldwide economic and cultural trends.. Uh, I digress... where was I?
Oh, yeah, I think that a Field Guide to Tourists of the World would be a great idea. Of course, the average American tourist is at least twenty pounds heavier than his or her European counterpart, and usually wears at least one less layer of clothing (while visiting Versailles in the Spring, wearing a short-sleeved button-down shirt, I saw a bunch of Italian tourists in sweaters and jackets, and thought, "Damn, I'm sweating even in shirtsleeves."). Yeah, Americans stand out, even if they aren't dressed like a bunch of n00bs, but how does one tell a Dane from a Swede at a glance? What team logos or brand names are favored by different nationalities? What sort of luggage would a Czech exec use? What sort of shoes does a Bolivian banker favor? Which pop stars grace the T-shirts worn by a gaggle of German high-schoolers on holiday?
I want my field guide!!!
NOTE: Something tells me that a Dane can be distinguished from a Swede by the presence of glacier glasses and a beard, maybe an armful of 16th Century woodcuts. Additionally, a Swede typically has a yellowish color, and is often coated with wax.
UPDATE: When evaluating antipodean tourists in the field, it should be noted that New Zealanders typically dress like Punch while Australians prefer to dress as Pierrot. Being able to distinguish the two at beer-sodden 7AM rugby viewings in the pub can be crucial to one's continued health and well-being.