Daybook · On Culture & Trends · On Places & Travel · On Politics

Daybook: Traveling as an Unapologetic American

What will President-Elect Obama mean for travel?  Perhaps depress the sale of Canadian flag pins in the United States, speculates World Hum, since Americans abroad will no longer feel the need to go incognito. The early international opinion on Obama seems promising.

I've never posed as a Canadian,  although I do have a pin on my
backpack with the date 1-19-09 on it, Bush's last day in office. After the 2004 election, it felt necessary to apologize for being an American or at least for US policies, whenever I discussed politics with people I'd meet in the road.

Invariably, the conversation would start with a statement about "your president Bush", and I would have to explain that I didn't really consider him my president since I didn't vote for him, either time. But I'd still apologize, because at least I'd had a say in his election, even if my choice didn't prevail. It's just enormously frustrating for the rest of the world to sit idly by while some portion of the US electorate makes decisions that affect the entire planet. 

I've actually never traveled abroad when George W. Bush has not been the president –I only got my passport in 2001. But as it happens, I am going to Canada this weekend, so I'll get my first chance to see what it's like to be an American abroad–without apologies.