These days before any trip we spend a lot of time reading articles and blogs about the “must do” things, but what about all the things you must NOT do? The founders of new travel app Outbound have used their research to put together a top ten list of the most important things to avoid while exploring this beautiful planet.
1. Don’t smile at strangers in Russia. Smiling is considered an intimate gesture in Russia and one that should only be done between two people who know each other.
2.Don’t tip in Japan. Whilst it’s non-negotiable in America and accepted in most parts of Asia it’s not done in Japan. In fact, it could actually be seen as degrading, so a simple “arigatou gozaimasu” will do the trick.
3. Keep your hands in sight in Germany. Talking with your hands in your pockets or eating with your hands under the table is considered bad manners by Germans.
4. Be careful of your chopsticks in China. Eating and drinking can be a minefield of social faux pas for a new traveller so keep this in mind if you’re headed to China. Don’t point with them, cross them over each other, or rest them on the side of your plate. All are considered terrible table manners.
5. Never pat someone’s head in Buddhist countries. In western countries this can be a sign of affection, but for Buddhists the head is sacred and patting it is an insult.
6. You can’t offend with flowers right? Well, in some countries the variety and colours have very different meanings. For example, never take carnations to a dinner party in Germany, Poland and Sweden as these are used for funerals only. An odd number of flowers in a bouquet are unlucky in Indonesia, while an even number is considered to be unlucky in India, Turkey, Russia and Germany.
7. Avoid making gestures with your left hand in India. Traditionally in Indian culture, the left hand is thought of as unclean, so always use your right hand to greet someone, exchange money or pick up merchandise.
8. Go easy on your horn in New Zealand. While it’s not illegal, excessive honking of your car horn is frowned upon on the roads. It’s the same in Norway, where honking is used only in an emergency, so unnecessary beeping can cause drivers to panic.
9. Be careful when choosing a gift in China. Gift giving can be a thoughtful way to show your appreciation to your hosts, but choose wisely. Never give an umbrella or clock to a Chinese friend – you are essentially wishing them bad luck for the future!
10. Always say hello in France. Every wondered why the French can seem rude if you don’t attempt their language? It’s because if you don’t greet a person with “Bonjour” you are saying you think they are beneath you.
If you can remember all of these you’ll be an extremely polite and culturally appropriate traveller wherever you go. For more information on Outbound, the social network app for travellers, visit www.outbound.org.