7 Ways to Offend People when Traveling

There are so many things to remember when traveling! You have to double check for your toothbrush, passport, tickets, hotels, list of correct etiquette and hand gestures…

What? Hand gestures? Well yes, every culture interprets things differently. Even what seems like a nice gesture to you, can really end up getting you into some trouble.

Here are a list of 7 things to keep you outta trouble.

7. Where are you from? United States, not America

I can’t tell you enough how many times I hear people say “I’m from America”, meaning they are from USA. Remember that there is a Central and a South America and saying you are from America doesn’t really translate well; so when traveling you want to make sure you are a bit more politically correct and state you are from the US.


6. Tipping

In the United States if you don’t tip your waiter you’ll offend both the server and your dining companions.

Whereas, if you do tip when you are in Japan and South Korea chances are you will offend both and in fact, the waiter might come and give you your money back thinking you left too much money. In some occasions a service charge is placed on the bill, in which case, one is supposed to pay.


5. Pour me a glass please…

If you are in Japan and find yourself drinking alcohol with others, make sure to not refill your own glass, it’s considered rude. It is thought as polite for people to serve each other, so make sure to be aware of those around you, and fill their glasses to, not only be in sync with the culture, but also, to remind others, hopefully, to return the favor.


4. Knowing Which hand to Eat with

 In many countries from the Middle East, India, and parts of Africa communal dishes (meaning you all eat from one main dish) are served. Pay attention! Do Not eat with your left hand unless you want to offend and put off your fellow diners appetites.

Why? Many cultures that eat with their hands and reserve the left hand for use in the bathroom.

3. F u! Wait I just wanted to order 2 drinks!

Ordering “two” drinks at the pub gesturing with your fingers, or wishing peace to someone, in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, is a gesture of flicking someone off.

Two fingers with the palm facing inward (towards you) is insulting.. This can quickly be solved by flipping your hand around so that the palm is facing outward to communicate a non-offensive meaning.


2. Rule of Thumb

When in Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Italy, or Greece, keep your thumbs to yourself. Do not do a thumbs up gesture! In these countries this particular gesture means “up yours.”


1. Shoe Etiquette

In the parts of East Asia and the South Pacific it is of common practice and respect to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home.

It is considered disrespectful in many parts of Asia, India, and the Middle East to show the soles of your shoes (when crossing your legs for example) or tapping someone else with your foot.



Safe Travels!