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I'm an American tourist. Here's what I disliked about Europe after my 3-week vacation.

Alyshia Hull   

I'm an American tourist. Here's what I disliked about Europe after my 3-week vacation.
  • Anna Shepherd is an American tourist who traveled through Spain, Italy, and France for three weeks.
  • She loved the food, history, and architecture but realized she missed certain American things.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Anna Shepherd, a 24-year-old from Knoxville, Tennessee. It has been edited for length and clarity.

During my most recent trip to Europe, I went to Spain, France, and Italy with my fiancé. While I've been to Europe in the past, both with my school and with a travel company, this was the first time I did all of the planning.

Although I love Europe for its food, drinks, history, and strong military presence, there were a few things I noticed on my trip that I didn't like.

1. I missed condiments

Every time I ordered fries, a sandwich, or a burger, it didn't come with sauce. Sure, some tables would have mayo or ketchup on them, but that was it — none of the fun, flavorful things like garlic Parmesan or chipotle mayo.

I used to work in the restaurant industry back home, and we'd always offer a selection of things like honey mustard or barbecue sauce with meals. I didn't see much of that in Europe — and I missed it.

2. The breakfast wasn't free

Every hotel I stayed in offered breakfast of some sort, but it was an additional charge. A lot of times, I'd hear something like, "I see you didn't add breakfast to your hotel bill; would you like to add it now?" From there, the extra charge for breakfast would range from 8 to 15 euros, or $8.48 to $15.89, so I'd just say "no thanks" and head to a bakery instead.

To be fair, I know some hotels in the US also charge you an extra bill for breakfast, but in my experience, the continental breakfast is usually free. With the exception of water fountains for drinking, there wasn't really anything free where I stayed in Europe.

3. There weren't any vending machines

In the US, in my experience, many hotels have vending machines on each floor, and if not, they have them in the lobby. In Europe, I could not find a single vending machine anywhere.

There were times I'd want to eat late at night, and since many restaurants were closed, I'd have to stay hungry. Sometimes, I'd opt to get McDonald's, as those were usually open, but that meant figuring out public transportation — and that was difficult, too.

4. The transportation was tricky

During this trip, I took planes, trains, and buses — any form of transportation that I saw offered.

It all seemed to take forever. Sometimes, I'd wait a good 20 minutes for a bus; then I'd get off the bus and hop on a train and have to wait all over again.

It felt like a lot of connections and made me miss the convenience of driving, something I didn't do while in Europe. But I also understand that public transportation is better for the environment, and Europe seems to be really good at that.

5. The toilets didn't have seats

In America, you might occasionally walk into a sketchy gas station bathroom, but when I was in Europe, I seemed to step into a lot of sketchy bathrooms.

For example, in Spain, there were a lot of toilets that didn't have toilet seats; I'm really not sure why. As a solution, when I had to use the bathroom, I'd hold onto something, squat, and try not to fall in. To be fair, I didn't see bathrooms like this in any of the hotels I stayed in, but it was common in cafés, restaurants, and bars.

I also noticed a lot of bathrooms weren't free to use — you had to be a customer or a guest to use the bathroom.

6. There weren't any shower curtains

Speaking of bathrooms, I noticed there wasn't a single shower curtain in sight in any of our hotel bathrooms.

Some of the showers had glass instead, and the glass would only cover half of the shower or tub. The showers were also small, which wasn't too big of a deal for me — I mean, you just clean yourself and get out — but it was tough for my fiancé, who is 6'5 and 220 pounds. He very much struggled to not splash the shower water outside the tub.

7. There weren't any washcloths

Every time we stayed in a hotel, they had two towel sizes: the big kind and the kind you dry your hands with. There weren't any washcloths.

I thought that was so strange because every hotel I've ever been to in America has a lot of towels of varying sizes, including washcloths. When I brought this up on TikTok, people thought I was gross for wanting a hotel washcloth.

I then asked my family and friends if they brought their own washcloths with them when traveling, and they said they didn't, so now I'm not entirely sure if it's gross or not to use a hotel washcloth. The hotels we stayed in didn't provide hair conditioner either, which was odd.

I will always jump at the chance to go back to Europe

Despite these things, I still love Europe. I noticed during my trip how nice everyone is — the people in France were the nicest of all the places I went. It was great having conversations with the locals, and people at bars even offered us free shots at times.

Overall, what keeps me going back to Europe is the food, culture, and architecture. I love the cobblestones, the diverse languages, and the history, too.

While I was definitely a little stressed and homesick by the end of my three-week stay, Europe is a place I'll always go back to.

If you have a travel hack or regret and would like to share your story, email Alyshia Hull at

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