We all admit that traveling is very exciting, going to new countries, knowing new cultures and meet people with different ethnics and traditions. But for several of us, that ever-stepped foot on new terrain knows that it can also be a cultural minefield if you don’t know the rules.
Generally speaking, being polite and observing what the natives do will go a long way in your quest to avoid offending your hotel manager or that cute girl at the bar. But what about those unique social customs that you couldn’t possibly know about without doing some research beforehand?
In that case, we’ve listed some of the most crucial mistakes that people make when traveling abroad.
Wearing your shoes indoors
In America, it is pretty common to put on your shoes and walk around someone’s house without feeling bad. But in Russia, Norway, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and other countries, it’s an unpolite thing to do.
Wearing your outdoor shoes into someone’s house is like taking a bucket of dirt and mud and casually sprinkling it around your host’s apartment.
Wishing someone a happy birthday before their actual birthday
It may sound weird and strange, but in several countries such as Russia and Germany wishing someone a happy birthday before the date of their birthday is a bad omen.
It jinxing someone and encouraging bad spirits to kill them before their actual birthday.
Shaking hands using your left hand
In countries like Indonesia and other countries with large Hindu populations, the left hand is used to clean your bottom, which means it is unpolite and rude to use it to shake someone’s hand or use it to eat your meal.
So, to be safe just remember to use your right hand even though it might be weird for you.
Making an OK sign using your fingers
When you travel to other countries in which you don’t speak their languages, you might think it would be fine to rely on gestures to get you around.
But if you happen to travel to Turkey or Brazil making an OK sign using your fingers will indicate someone that you are quite literally comparing them to your rear end.
Touching someone’s head
In Buddhist countries and several Asian countries someone’s head is the most sacred body part, so patting or touching someone’s head is a big no.
No matter how cute a child is, resist the urge to tussle his/her hair.
Taking a business card in Japan and immediately putting it in your pocket
In Japan giving someone, a business card is taken very seriously, to the point where presenting them is a ritual known as meishi koukan.
The highest-ranking person gives his/her card first face-down. Then the other person receives the card using both hands, carefully studies it, and keeps it on their hands for the remainder of the conversation.
Then you must guard it with your life because how you treat the card symbolizes how you’d treat the person.
It’s not like the U.S., where you just take one and shove it in your pocket, only to throw it away on laundry day.
Making the peace sign
To all the hippies out there, making a V-sign in your country might be a common thing.
In other countries making a V-sign with your index and middle finger is generally considered to indicate that you are all warm and crunchy granola inside.
But in Ireland and U.K, it is equivalent to flipping someone off.
Chewing gum in Singapore
Fun fact for you travelers that haven’t been to Singapore, chewing gum is illegal, except for dental or nicotine, and spitting gum on the street can make you be punished with $700 fine.
Honestly, though, unless you’re a teenager hanging out in front of a diner, chewing gum is best to be avoided in general.
Giving a Russian date a bouquet of a dozen roses
In the West, it’s considered a mark of old-world gentlemanliness to greet a woman with a bouquet of a dozen roses.
But while Russian women love getting flowers, only an odd number will do. And even number is what you give at funerals.
Giving a thumbs up
You might be wondering what’s the bad thing of giving a thumbs up? When it is a symbol you give to someone meaning “Everything is great”.
Just know that in countries like Iran, Greece, and other countries. It’s equivalent to a middle finger, so leave those thumbs in your pockets!
Every country has its own different cultures and beliefs, that’s what makes all of them unique. From the 10 huge mistakes above we can learn that it is important for us to respect and know other country’s rules.
We can admit that visiting other countries will be a challenging thing but its far the best experience you’ll ever experience.
Just remember that it’s always a good thing to prepare yourself by doing some research on the country you will be visiting, learning foreign languages to help you travel around and interact with the locals. To prevent you from things, you don’t want to be bothered with.