Comment: I travel as much as possible, even to Mexico!

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I travel as much as possible, even to Mexico!

I figure, especially if you feel the need to dispell stereotypes about Americans, and you believe that you have some sort of "better" take on politics and international relations, that it is your responsibility to travel and talk to people.

It is amazing how quickly you can get people over the "Americans suck" idea by talking to them for 5 minutes (even 1 minute; the example I use is when I was at a Punk Bar in Munich, German in 2006, I was introduced by my friend as "my friend from California" and some guy started going off about Bush and the Wars, and I just said, "I agree, I don't like it either." He stopped for a second, then asked, "So how do you like Germany?").

My recommendation is to have a local contact that you trust in third-world countries (India, Nepal, Mexico, Columbia, etc.) to meet you at the airport.

There is like a wall that if you show up without any local contact you never get through, and that could be why some people have a bad experience (and for the record, a hired tour guide does not count as a local contact; it needs to be a friend, or family of friend). Once you get that contact though, the wall comes down, and from that point on you will feel like you just discovered a new neighborhood in your town. It won't be as scary or dangerous.

Also leave the American Apparel at home. Go to a thrift store before you leave and wear those clothes.

Jack Wagner