Americans consider themselves the world’s worst tourists, LivingSocial finds

Tired of the ugly, American traveler stereotype? Sorry, but it’s one being perpetuated by none other than Americans. A new LivingSocial survey finds that Americans themselves believe we are the world’s worst tourists. The survey found that Americans, Canadians and Australians all gave U.S. tourists that dubious distinction. The Irish identified their British neighbors as the worst, and the British called out the Germans for bad travel behavior.

“Our survey puts the old wives’ tale to bed that only 15 percent of Americans own passports,” said Dave Madden, general manager of LivingSocial Escapes, North America. “Americans turn out to be pretty active globetrotters, with the average person having visited at least four countries. Unfortunately, Americans have pretty low opinions of themselves as travelers, so it’s time to turn on that Yankee charm and improve our global image.”

Why are Americans giving themselves such a bad rap? Data shows that it’s sadly deserved. Four in ten U.S. travelers (39%) admit to having stolen something from a hotel during a visit. The most common items pilfered were towels (28%), bathrobes (8%), batteries (5%), pillows (4%), remote controls (3%), sheets (3%), bibles (3%) and umbrellas (3%). Thankfully, only 3% report having gotten arrested while on vacation, so it seems the “law breaking” in hotel rooms is pretty minor.

In addition to taking fewer days off from work to vacation – 16 days off in comparison to Australia (27 days), Canada (21), Ireland (28), and the UK (23) – two-thirds of respondents have trouble disconnecting, with 66% saying they check their e-mail or cell phone while on vacation.

That doesn’t keep them from dreaming, however. When given their choice of dozens of world wonders to visit, Americans named the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Paris‘ Eiffel Tower, and the Pyramids of Giza as top foreign destinations, while Disney World, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon make the list in the U.S.

Their top celebrity travel companions include Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry.

[Flickr via Rui Perpeira]