Why American Tourists Are Filming Themselves Chugging Water In Europe

American tourists in Europe are hitting a nerve as more water-chugging videos go viral. On July 3, 2023, TikTok user Brenna released a seven-second video depicting her and friends drinking liters of water captioned, "Us the moment we can find water because Europeans don't believe in water," triggering other young tourists to post similar videos perpetuating unsubstantiated claims and giving Europeans another reason to dislike Americans.

The initial video has been viewed over 10 million times so far, and most of the 13,000 comments question the claim pointing out several debatable points. Foremost, Europe is a continent of 50 countries, so while a city may not have access to good drinking water (as some U.S. cities don't), it's hyperbolic to suggest they all don't.

Other comments point out that the statement is inaccurate, noting how people can access hundreds of mineral water sources throughout countries like France, a practice Americans are not familiar with who traditionally get water from the tap. Still, accurate or not, copycat videos keep popping up of thirsty Americans chugging water, forcing a renewed conversation on cultural differences, specifically in water etiquette this time and timely as the world is experiencing unprecedented high temperatures.

When in Rome

The cultural difference lurking behind these controversial TikToks is that free water at restaurants is an American experience, whereas Europeans traditionally purchase bottled water to enjoy with meals. Tourists shouldn't expect servers to automatically fill up water glasses, as is commonly done in the U.S., as the service is often considered a favor. Since each country has different norms, educate yourself on whether the host country charges for tap water and be polite when requesting some.

@br3nnak3ough ♬ Yeahhhh slurpyyyy – AAA

Water is available with or without gas, known as seltzer or sparkling water in the U.S., so please use the correct phrase when ordering and be patient. If your budget doesn't have room to pay for water, use a reusable water bottle to take advantage of the free water available at hotels and throughout the city. It may look different, but European cities have public drinking fountains like Rome's Bernini's "Barcaccia" fountain that dispense safe drinking water (from a wolf's mouth).

Keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control recommend that men and women consume up to 3.7 liters of water daily from food and other beverages to stay hydrated. Still, temperature and activity level can dehydrate you quicker, which explains the thirsty tourists.