Have you researched the tourist attractions of your next holiday but are unsure of the social and cultural norms? A bit of online research will go a long way in ensuring you don’t cause any unintentional international offence.
Here are some key topics to research:
In some cultures, swearing like a trooper is OK whereas in others it is a sign of complete disrespect. If it doubt, roll back the casual profanities.
- Conservative attire
This is especially crucial if visiting nations that have a religious or cultural dress code. Being a tourist won’t excuse you from adhering to the codes and ignoring this can result in dire consequences.
- Removing your shoes
In many countries entering a place of worship or a house with shoes on is seen as unclean. If there are shoes outside a building or home, follow suit and remove yours too.
- Public displays of affection
Some cultures are quite tactile and like to hug and hold hands, while others have a strong sense of personal space. If in doubt, leave your displays of affection behind closed doors!
- To tip or not to tip?
That’s one of the most often asked questions by tourists. In some places you are absolutely expected to tip, in other countries tips are included in the bill, and in less cases, tipping is seen as an insult.
- Pointing your finger
While most people around the world don’t appreciate being pointed at, in some countries it is incredibly rude and offensive. If you need to point towards something, use your entire hand instead of a finger.
- Showing the soles of your feet
In some cultures, showing the soles of your feet is disrespectful as it’s considered the dirtiest part of the body because they touch the ground.
- Table Etiquette
Should you wait for the host to start eating first? Is it ok to polish off your plate? Is slurping offensive? Are you expected to bring something? Always research this as table etiquette varies greatly from culture to culture.
- Using your left hand
In some places the left hand is used where toilet paper is unavailable and therefore considered unclean. If visiting these countries, be sure to use your right hand for eating, greeting and general interactions with others.
That’s our top 9 but there are plenty more out there!
What have been your personal cultural experiences and where?