I’m foreign, so I must be rich

An open letter to the locals around the world that assume I’m foreign, so I must be rich.


Dear locals,

Yes, I am a foreigner, but that does not mean I am oblivious. I see you eyeing me when I walk down the street, ka-ching! noises ringing in your ears. Those dollar signs shining in your eyes are visible from miles away, and I hear you snickering with your friends before offering me your services. I know what you’re thinking: I’m foreign, so I must be rich. You know what? You’re absolutely right.

Being foreign, every morning I bathe in spring water fresh from the Himalayas, carried to me on the backs of sherpas every week. I dry myself off with $100 bills–they are excellent for exfoliating my skin–which I so generously toss out the window to the ever-present beggars below. I know it can be hard to believe since I’m walking around with stained clothes that reek of sweat, carrying a backpack filled with a small desert’s worth of dirt. I make sure to roll in dust before leaving the house, so commoners like you don’t feel bad about my luxurious life. Unfortunately, mister hotelier, I already paid for my $10 room-sans-shower, but I’ll gladly consider your bargain $200/night hotel room, as long as you’re fine with me bringing my own spring water.


I'm foreign, so I must be rich: that's why I stayed in this grubby cheap hotel room in Sanandaj, Iran.

One of the fancier rooms in my recent travels. This is what my 5-star lifestyle is like, dear local. I pipe in my Himalayan spring water via the squat toilet, and the soap in the dispenser is actually filled with artisanal saffron soap handcrafted by local villagers.


Being foreign, I have a different European sports car for every day of the week, though I usually pay for a chauffeur to drive it so I can use the ride to Snapchat selfies on my solid gold iPhone 7. This might not be obvious, given that you just ran into me trying to buy a $0.50 ticket for an overcrowded public bus while using a very shattered smartphone for a timepiece, but I can explain. I recently left my gold iPhone in my friend’s new Porsche after a night of too many martinis while cruising the Las Vegas strip, and I’m actually just taking this bus so I can show my Snapchat followers how charmingly rustic your country is. Your offer to drive me in your taxi for my 8-hour journey for only $100 is kind, but I’d like to avoid being seen your old Peugeot. It’s bad for my image.


I'm foreign, so I must be rich: that's why I ride in cheap minibuses in Iran.

They may look like minibus drivers, but I assure you, they’re actually my chauffeurs. Just the idea of sharing a bus with dozens of other people makes my skin crawl.


Being foreign, my breakfast consists of wild berries hand-picked in the Swiss Alps, and freshly ground coffee grown on my grandfather’s plantation in Tanzania. I lunch only on the finest Russian caviar accompanied by a light, subtle French champagne. Most evenings I fly in my private chef from Japan to craft fresh sushi for my supper. It might be hard to imagine, since you just witnessed me me wolfing down $1 falafel and stocking up on unlimited toppings at the fast food joint next door. I was simply trying to stock up on super foods—I need to improve my skin for next week’s yacht tour in the Maldives. Thank you for letting me know about your restaurant next door with the $15 kebabs and mandatory 30% service charge, it sounds lovely. Perhaps I’ll visit tomorrow… is it possible to get a side of quinoa with my kebab?


I'm foreign, so I must be rich: that's why I eat cheap falafel in Yazd, Iran.

The carrot is for a more illustrious hue, the purple cabbage is for increasing elasticity and reducing wrinkles, and the chickpeas are gluten-free, so I don’t have to worry about bloating while in my bikini.


Being foreign, I am the owner of a large penthouse overlooking Manhattan, despite being only 25 years old. All of its several hundred square meters are covered with the finest animal skins that my money can buy. The photos I just showed you of the apartment the size of your dining room table? I was just showing you those so you would feel less bitter about my vast wealth. I would love to take some time to peruse your very affordable $3,000 Persian carpets, dear salesman, but I’m afraid they really would clash with the endangered animal theme that I employ in my penthouse’s powder room. I’ll think of you when it comes time to decorate my next summer home.


I'm foreign, so I must be rich: that's why I had a tiny apartment in Haarlem, the Netherlands.

It may look like it’s only 30 square meters, but I assure you, it’s closer to 500. I had just taken the animal skins to my personal taxidermist for a routine cleaning.


Alas, locals, I’m afraid I have to cut this short–I need to do some retail therapy in Milan before my dinner date below the Eiffel tower. I’m glad we had this chance to communicate. I hope I leave you a tad more enlightened about what life is like in foreign countries, so you understand what you’re dealing with the next time you see a dirty young backpacker walking your way.


Sincerely yours,

A Foreigner

More like this? Check out our article on the sustainability of dual pricing!


An open letter to all the locals that assume ALL foreign tourists are rich.


Have you encountered this problem in your travels? How did you respond?

Alex Reynolds profile picture

Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

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20 thoughts on “I’m foreign, so I must be rich

    Matz Lonnedal Risberg says:

    It is certainly a big problem in Africa. And for us Europeans the Americans have totally ruined the locals’ impression of the unlimited funds of the Muzunga (white man). Middle-class USamericans hardly have vacation during their working years but retire at age 55 with a million or two dollars in the bank, travel around the World and give out tips like madmen, while we Europeans have long vacations throughout our lifes, but no normal European has one or two million dollars (or €uros) in the bank (partly because we have a welfare system, so we don’t need it).

    kgbargs says:

    Thanks for proving why everyone hates American and white tourists. This post is hella racist and xenophobic.

    Thanks for your feedback. Looking back on it now, I do think this post is quite ignorant and problematic and I could’ve done a better job addressing the misconceptions. Not afraid to say I make mistakes.

    I would like to know why you consider it racist and xenophobic?

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