Are you traveling to a foreign country to meet your travel companion? In addition to your basic research, you may want to dig a little deeper into the customs and traditions of a culture before you leave. The last thing you want to do is offend someone by your behavior, especially by accident.
Here are a few tips for cultural etiquette around the world:
The OK sign is really only okay in America. Cease use in any other countries if you want to live. (Or may be just stay standing).
Never thumbs up in the Middle East, unless you really meant to flip someone off.
Your feet are the lowest part of your body, which is significant in many Asian cultures. When traveling to Asia, don’t prop your feet up while sitting and don’t touch another person with any part of your foot.
If you’re lucky enough to go to Fiji, be prepared for a prolonged handshake. A handshake in Fiji is very affectionate and may last an entire conversation.
In Russia, never shake hands or make introductions with someone across a threshold, it’s considered bad luck. If you have room service, do the transaction in the hall.
When in India, don’t be alarmed if you are approached by a man who is sticking his tongue out while he flails his arms about, instead you should be flattered. In India, a person who approaches another by sticking their tongue between their teeth and gathering the air around the person’s head with their hands means they find that person attractive.
Got an itch on your chin? If you’re in Italy, don’t do it in public if you don’t want to be offensive.
Slurping noodles in Japan is not only completely acceptable, but recommended. But try to sneeze as quietly as possible in public, and never blow your nose.
Waving in Greece, or even showing your palm could offend some, so maybe you should just keep your hands down.
Never stick your chopsticks straight up in the bowl when eating Chinese in China. (Or anywhere else where chopsticks are used).
While dining with the French, splitting the bill is never an option, and shouldn’t even be suggested.
In Thailand, don’t be offended if someone begins to pick their nose during a conversation.
Tipping is a different story in every country. In the UK and Asia, it’s not common practice. But in the U.S. it’s rude to tip less than 10%, and satisfied service should be rewarded with no less than 15-20%. Some places such as France and Italy, the % is much higher at 25-30%.
So if you don’t want to offend your travel date, or the locals, brush up on the local customs before you go so you know what NOT to do. The last thing anyone wants to be is THAT embarrassing tourist.