Travel faux pas

Travel faux pas

Travel makes you richer. You get to learn about so many cultures when you travel. I am a big advocate of responsible travel and this post will help you keep track of social taboos which can be a tricky task when travelling. Sometimes the tiniest detail can get you into a world of trouble and you do not want to ruin your holiday just because you were not aware. So look no further! Here are 21 most common faux pas committed by tourists. Be aware and travel safer.

1. Fashionably late

Being late to a meal is encouraged in Venezuela. In fact, showing up on time would make you look greedy.

2. Show some gratitude

In Vietnam, accepting a gift with one hand shows you are ungrateful. Use both hands


Be gentle when offering a handshake in Philippines. A strong handshake means you are unfriendly or aggressive.

4. Watch before you speak

Never insult the Thai royal family. It is against the law and could lead in prison sentence

5. Whistling

If you enjoy whistling, do it outside in Russia. Superstitions say that the ones who whistle inside would become bankrupt.

6. Showing the soles of your feet in Arab countries

In many Middle Eastern cultures it’s considered disrespectful to show someone the bottoms of your shoes. It’s essentially saying to someone ‘you’re beneath me’.

7. Eye contact

Be wary of who you make eye contact with in Nigeria and for how long. It could be interpreted as a sign of disrespect.

8. Shaking your head up and down

In Bulgaria nodding means no and shaking your head means yes. This one may be a little difficult for you to put into practice, as it’s hard to reverse a life-long habit.

9. Knife & fork –  To use or not to use?

Do not use knife and fork in Ethiopia. Its considered odd if you do. But please use knife and fork in Chile. Its rude if you don’t. Irrespective of what you use, ensure you finish your food 100% in Spain.

10. Let’s dutch

The amount you pay for the  bill is nothing or the whole amount. Splitting is considered unsophisticated in France.

11. Adding salt to your food

A pinch of salt is all it takes to insult an Egyptian chef. Please put your salt shaker down

12. Hitchhiking 

Giving the thumbs up sign that many use for hitchhiking is akin to saying ‘up yours’ in Greece.

13. Shaking hands across a threshold in Russia

In Russia it’s considered bad luck to shake hands or kiss across a threshold when greeting someone. Easily overcome, simply wait until you’re invited in or your hosts steps outside

14. Taking photos of locals without their permission 

Taking a shot of a crowd scene is fine, but walking up to someone and pointing a camera in their face without their consent is incredibly rude.

15. Not knowing your chopstick etiquette 

Placing chopsticks upright in your bowl or rice, using them to point at people or to spear food are big no-nos in Japan. If you’re planning a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, be sure to read up on chopstick etiquette before you go.

16. Touching someone on the head 

In many Buddhist countries, the head is considered sacred and to touch someone’s head, even a child’s, is actually a grave insult.

17. Know your right from your left 

Eating with your left hand is a no-no in India. The left hand is used for cleaning yourself, particularly after using the toilet and, thus, is considered unclean.

18. Stepping over someone

Stepping over someone’s outstretched legs is considered a great social taboo in Nepal. If someone is in your way, best practice is to walk around them.

19. A quick handshake

Be prepared for a long handshake if you’re meeting someone in Fiji. After the initial downward shake, your hands may remain clasped for the entire conversation.

20. Marigold

Marigolds signify death in Mexico. Do not carry them with you for dinner

21. Finally, the most important of all

Don’t speak the language if you don’t know how. You could offend someone and make a total fool of yourself! 🙂


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