Are You Culturally Rude? Essential Etiquette Rules For Your Travels Abroad

Travelling abroad cultural pleasantries backpackin

It's nice to be nice, so avoid these accidental cultural faux pas and read up on some handy worldwide pleasantries before hitting the airport...

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Are you going global for you summer holiday this year? 

Grab that suntan lotion, secure your passport and raise a glass of sangria on us...just make sure you're not a stereotypical Brit abroad by avoiding these cultural howlers. 

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To keep you in the know, we've partnered with DoubleTree by Hilton to prove that it’s nice to be nice and pass kindness on to those we meet, thats the #DoubleTreeeffect.

Here are some of the biggest international faux pas to ensure your holiday doesn't end with an embarrassing telling off...

Table manners in Germany

You know how your mum always told you to keep your elbows off the table? Well, in Germany it is customary to keep your hands on the table while eating and avoid resting them on your lap. Just a little thing to consider before jetting off to Munich!

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Don’t be late in Singapore

Although lots of countries believe it is MORE socially acceptable to be fashionably late, in Singapore it is considered very impolite. Also, it’s illegal to chew gum and bring gum into the country, even accidentally! Make sure you clean out your jacket pockets before leaving the plane…

Be super polite in India

Kate and Wills may have just returned from a week’s trip to India, but it’s worth keeping the royal duo in mind when travelling to the country. India is a very organised society, so it is important to use your finest manners and address people with formal titles, like ‘doctor’, ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ as opposed to first names.

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Think about your feet in South East Asia

In many South Asian countries the feet as seen as dirty and unclean, making them a cultural grey-area that’s worth considering before you travel. Whatever you do, don’t put your bare feet up on a table chair – the bare soles of your tootsies could be viewed as an insult. 

Shake the right way in Russia

In Russia, trying to shake someone’s hand across a threshold or doorway is unlikely to get you very far…it’s considered bad luck! Superstition says that you should either step over the ‘line’ or they should meet you.  

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Swap your ‘yeses’ and ‘nos’ in Bulgaria

If you're hot-footing it around Europe this summer spare a thought for customs in Bulgaria. Amazingly yes means no and no means yes if a waiter asks if you like your food you will need to shake your head left to right, meaning yes. Shake your head up and down and you'll be saying no! 

A-Okay is not okay in Brazil

Curling your thumb and forefinger into a circle for the 'okay' sign may be okay in Blighty, but in Brazil it is a no no. Remember that when you're taking pictures at the Christ the Redeemer statue. 

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Perfect your palms in Greece

Stretching your hand palm-outwards is known as 'Moutza' in Greece and it's seen as an insult. The only thing worse is holding up both arms, a bit like holding your arms up on a roller coaster or at a concert! If you need to signal the number five, make sure your palm is facing you. 

Polish your food skills in China, the Philippines and North Africa

In these countries finishing every mouthful on your plate is taken as a sign that you're still hungry and that your host has failed to feed you enough grub! It's seen as embarrassing and you'll be offered more food. In fact, most hosts will only assume you are full if there is food left on your plate, so keep a morsel behind (even if it's delicious!). 

Another thing to remember is chopstick etiquette - plonking your sticks straight upwards in a pot of rice is actually similar to an action used during a funeral, so avoid this wherever possible! 

Watch your condiments in Portugal

If there's no salt, pepper or condiments on your table you may need to just put up and shut up! Asking for extras in Portugal can be a signal to the restaurant or your host that you think their food is naff!  

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Be careful with your salad, bread and pastries in France

Eating a salad with a knife and fork is seen as a bit weird in France, so if you can comfortably eat with just your fork in your left hand, go for it! If you've popped into a pattissere to buy a loaf of bread or a croissant don't slice it with a knife, just tear sections off and put condiments or toppings onto those bits - you'll look more 'authentic'!

Don't clink glasses while toasting in Hungary 

In Hungary it is considered bad luck to clink beer glasses. Legend has it that when Hungary's 1848 revolution against the Habsburgs was defeated, the Austrians celebrated in Vienna by toasting and clinking their beer glasses, hence the bad taste! However, if someone offers you a wine or traditional pálinka drink you have to clink and look people in the literally stare at the person next to you!

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Don't have a drink outdoors in Canada

Canadians are famously welcoming, polite, kind and generally awesome, but it turns out they have much stricter laws on drinking that us. Although drinking in hotels, restaurants and in your own home is fine, taking a pint outdoors is illegal. Check the local laws before you do any kind of boozy walking...

Have we missed anything? Tell us your nice travel tips and pass the kindness across the world!