When Pauline Frommer recently contacted a New Zealand lodge to book a room, the innkeeper immediately asked the New Yorker if she had attended the Women's March in January.
"She had very strong opinions," Frommer recalls.
Americans traveling abroad are discovering that the tumultuous political climate under President Donald Trump is Topic A. With foreign hosts curious about our affairs, casual discussions run the risk of morphing into Sunday morning news programs.
"This is not new," said Barbara Bodine, director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. "Our actions have caused direct anti-Americanism or awkward conversations abroad before."
"If you are going to proselytize, then you are in the wrong place," said Bill Bull, a vice president at the Council on International Educational Exchange. "When you are in a different culture, you need to listen more than talk."
Yet many travelers see themselves as mini-ambassadors. They believe that they have a responsibility to participate in an open dialogue with their foreign hosts.
"I think it's important to exchange ideas and represent who you are as an American," Frommer said.
Suzanne Nossel of PEN America welcomes the conversation. "I think it's important to be a face — if you don't agree with what's happening — and a voice for the values that you think our country should represent," she said. "It is very important that the rest of the world sees the diversity of views."
If you engage, do so with care. Benet Davetian, director of the Civility Institute in Canada, encourages visitors to be aware of the destination's political and cultural environment. For example, in Turkey, residents are contending with a president angling to consolidate his power.
"They are so furious about their president," he said. "They are dying to put Trump down."
His advice: Take a conciliatory approach and maintain a moderate tone.
Lizzie Post, co-host of the podcast "Awesome Etiquette," advocates a "filter check." Before delving into a political discussion, have an honest chat with yourself. Ask yourself if this is the appropriate setting and right person for this type of dialogue. Take stock of your emotional state. Challenge yourself to some introspective questions. Can you can be informative with your own views and respectful of others' stances? Can you cede the last word?
"This isn't a therapy session," she said. "Set personal boundaries."
If you realize that your voice is getting louder and your heart is thumping harder, switch to a safer topic.
If all else fails, Post suggests saying, "I'm on vacation, even from politics."