When I was in high school, my family lived in Scotland for a semester while my father, a professor, was on sabbatical. Over spring break, we decided to go to Spain, taking trains to London, then Paris, and then a sleeper train from Paris to Madrid.
This was in early April 2003, in the early weeks of the invasion of Iraq, and anger at the U.S. was running high in Europe. In St. Andrews, where we were staying, there were demonstrations in the streets against the war and against British involvement, and we figured it’d be worse when we got into continental Europe. My parents talked with my siblings and I about possible anti-American sentiment and told us to be careful about advertising our nationality—to use common sense, basically. I think we talked about identifying ourselves as Canadian, but no one seemed eager to lie.
When we board the sleeper in Paris, the compartments were divided by gender, four people to a compartment. My father, my little brother, and I got found ours and made ourselves comfortable, and my mother and sister went to theirs. Just as we were thinking we might have the compartment to ourselves, another guy showed up with a friend, both speaking Arabic, dropped his stuff, and left. A little later, as the train got underway, he came back and introduced himself in halting, accented English. His name was Hassan, and he was Egyptian. He asked where we were from. My dad, thinking quickly, said we were living in Scotland, which had the virtue of being true without identifying us as Americans. Smooth, right?
About five minutes later, the conductor came around and asked for tickets and passports, at which point the three of us had to hand over our (very obviously) American passports.