42 Americans Share Things They Didn’t Know Were Luxuries Until They Traveled Abroad

It's easy to take a lot of things for granted if you never leave your home. One of the first learning moments many kids have is when they visit a friend or relative and realize that people live differently. But travel is the number one educator, a way to see just how differently folks from around the globe get by.
Someone asked “What's a luxury that most Americans don't realize is a luxury?” and netizens from the US shared their thoughts. We also got in touch with the netizen who posted the question. So get comfortable as you scroll through, upvote your favorites and be sure to share your own thoughts and examples in the comments section below.

#1

As an American who now lives abroad, air conditioning .

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Image credits: ZeleniChai

#2

The ability to use restrooms without charge.

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#3

Regular street-sweeping. You won’t notice it until you go somewhere without it.

Image credits: emoyer68

Bored Panda got in touch with the internet user who posted this question and they were kind enough to share some more details. We wanted to know why they picked this topic in the first place. “My friend traveled to Poland, and she was surprised that drying machines for clothes were a luxury. Hardly anyone had them over there.

We were also curious to hear their thoughts on why the thread had so much engagement. “Popularity in questions asked on that subreddit are just random really. You can ask the same question another day and not get any responses. Sometimes they hit, sometimes they don’t,” they shared.

#4

Owning a separate car for every driver in a household.

Image credits: AllenRBrady

#5

Great disability access. I can go to any place — theatre, store, office, school, whatever — with confidence that I’ll be able to navigate fine in my wheelchair, and they’ll have ramps and/or elevators.

Image credits: 5AgainstRhodeIsland

#6

School facilities. As a rural Canadian, I grew up watching American TV and was always seething with jealousy over American schools. I was especially jealous that Americans could sign up for the school play and meet a teenage heartthrob. We didn’t have school plays, or a theatre in general, or band, or football, or a swimming pool, or art classes.

Image credits: Crow_away_cawcaw

We also wanted to hear if this netizen had any examples of their own. “I used to play WOW classic with a person in our guild that lived in Lebanon. He would not always have 24 hour electricity.” We also asked if they had any favorite posts. “I would say the entire thread is my favorite, it’s a humbling read for any Americans that don’t travel outside the country.”

#7

Excellent water pressure in showers. When abroad, showers are like a flower watering pot. I like to feel my shower. Make the pressure strong enough to tear my skin off, then back it off like 10%.

Image credits: petertmcqueeny

#8

Windows with screens. When I lived in Geneva, I was in a sixth-floor walk-up flat with no A/C. I was in for a very unfortunate surprise when the weather got warm and I opened the windows only for bugs to swarm in. No screens! How was I supposed to sleep in a hot bedroom and I couldn’t even open my tiny window for some air flow?!

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#9

The ability to buy anything you can think of and buying online arrives in less than a week…often in two or three days.

A lot of countries just don’t have the access to big box stores or infinite option online merchants.

Image credits: phoenix14830

#10

Back yards! Even if it’s small, a patch of land attached to your residence that no one but you has access to is something most people in cities in east, southeast, and South Asia can only dream of.

Image credits: Pemulis_DMZ

#11

That at school your child can get free services like speech therapy.

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#12

Traveling to other countries without an approved visa.

Image credits: James_p_hat

#13

Garbage collection. When I traveled a little bit, one of the things that struck me most was the amount of garbage in the streets and piled in fields. There is no municipal collection in some parts of the world.

Image credits: universalrefuse

#14

Clean drinking water. My folks traveled the world quite a bit and said that they were amazed every time they returned to the US that there is (or was, a couple of decades ago) clean water out of almost every tap or water readily available nearby. We don’t realize how incredible and rare this is, and so we take it for granted.

#15

The single family home.

The vast majority of people live in apartments or row houses/townhouses.

#16

Vegetarian and vegan options.

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#17

Libraries. The American public library system is very advanced. It’s also, general speaking, free to use.

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#18

Our cheap gas.

Image credits: Amiiboid

#19

The freedom to speak openly about your political and personal beliefs, no matter how stupid or uninformed they are.

#20

We essentially bathe in drinking water.

Image credits: Mr_Lumbergh

#21

Fully stocked grocery stores. Life post-COVID showed me how much of a luxury this actually is. I can so vividly remember driving to the store to pick up some things only to find half-empty shelves.

Image credits: King_in_a_castle_84

#22

Access to all types of climates and natural wonders in a single country. You like mountains? Go west. Beaches? There are lots of American cities located right by the sea. Like the cold? We’ve got Alaska! Deserts, canyons, waterfalls, geysers, forests? Got you covered all in one country where people speak one language and use one currency.

#23

Dryers that actually dry clothes. I'm American but my new apartment has a European style 2 in 1 washer/dryer which i thought was cool at first until I used it and it takes 4 hours for a dry cycle, is soooo loud, and the clothes still come out a little damp. I miss my American sized washer dryer separate units

Image credits: sugarface2134

#24

Controlling the temperature of your home to whatever you want 24/7/365.

Most other developed countries are either good at heating or good at AC, but rarely both.

Image credits: Joystic

#25

The right to protest, hold whatever backwards belief you want, and say whatever you want (of course if it isn’t true threats or fighting words).

#26

Unless you truly live in the middle of nowhere, access to good Mexican food is basically guaranteed.

#27

Fresh fruit from around the world every day of the year.

#28

Currency that doesn’t devalue every other month.

#29

While it’s true that you will have to drive great distances to get where you want to go, the interstate highway system and the rest areas are a unique feature of the American landscape. In other countries they do not exist, or have been replaced by commercial enterprises. A gas station with a donut shop on the side of the road is not the same as a rest stop.

#30

Multiples of electronics, i.e., TVs, computers, gaming systems.

#31

Hot water. Grew up off grid, and hot water from the tap meant you had to have the water pump working and you had to have water in the catchment. Plus propane for the water heater, so hot water wasn’t a guaranteed thing. Been living in “real” houses for the last 15 years and everytime I turn on a hot shower I’m still thankful .

#32

In the early 2000s I asked a refugee from Somalia what if she liked it here. She said yes. “What’s your favorite thing?” I said.

“If my house starts on fire I can call 911 and someone will come put it out.”

“Oh. Yeah. That’s awesome.”.

#33

Flushing toilet paper in the actual toilet.

#34

People obeying traffic signals. Guy I used to work with who was from an African country I cannot recall(this was 15+ years ago) said one of the most suprising things he saw when he immigrated was that people actually obeyed traffic lights. He said where he came from they were treated more like mild suggestions.

#35

Spices. Less than 100 years ago paprika was as expensive saffron.

#36

The public education system, like having the ability to go to a school that’s covered by taxes; sure, it’s not perfect, and there’s always issues, but there are many people throughout the world that have never had this sort of opportunity that I think we in wealthier nations often take for granted.

#37

Space. We have so much space. Lived in Japan for 2 years and space is what I missed the most. Bigger cars, houses, trees, cities (more area), businesses, etc… other places mostly seem so cramped. Even bigger cities like Chicago have so much more room comparatively.

#38

Potable tap water.

#39

Not caring about customer support. «  ill just buy another one »

They dont understand that once you pay for something, its supposed to work as long as physically possible.

Too many dollars on their hands.

#40

This is a hot take but the healthcare. I was born in Europe and have a lot of family still there. In Europe my aunt got cancer. When she needed scans the wait was counted in months. The hospital was terrible, more like a prison with old outdated equipment (this is in a big cosmopolitan European city not some podunk town)

My wife got cancer in the US. When she needed a scan it was ordered by the doctor and she was headed down within the hour. Her room was like a five star hotel.

Sure in Europe it was free, but you get what you pay for. Here my insurance covered all of this amazing care, once I paid the $2500 a year in deductibles everything was free last that point.

My aunt passed, my wife is alive and thriving.

#41

Being able to get insulin. As much as the cost of it sucks, it’s still available at all. I haven’t missed a single day of taking it in over 41 years. It’s why I’m not dead.

Government funded dialysis care. I’m not on dialysis but I used to work in the field for years. If you need it, you get it. Without those 3 3-4 hour treatments a week, those people would die.

Lack of actual wars in our country for over a century has been pretty nice too.

#42

Drinks with ice ‼️Apparently Europeans don’t like ice. Room temperature drinks don’t quench my thirst.
Source: boredpanda.com

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