How NOT to Act In Different Countries Around the World

How NOT to Act In Different Countries Around the World

Summer is here and hopefully that means vacation. But before you jet off to another corner of the world, do you know what not to do to avoid offending people from other cultures?

The worst thing a tourist can be is offensive, and there are a ton of things that American’s perceive as normal behavior that make people from other countries mad. Here’s a list of the things you might not want to do after you land in another country.


Don’t unwrap flowers before giving them as a gift.

Don’t tip anyone. If you leave even small change, people will come running after you to return it. Tipping is not a part of the culture.

Don’t give an even number of flowers as a gift (even numbers are for the deceased).

Don’t bring your pet in public, or you will be fined. Also, avoid feeding the birds, spitting, urinating in public, smoking in public, eating or drinking on public transportation, and littering.


Don’t raise your thumb, middle and index finger all at once–it’s the Serbian salute.

Don’t call someone by their first name. Address them as Miss, Mrs., Mr., or Dr. And if you aren’t sure, choose madam or sir.

New Zealand
Don’t make a big deal about people who are shoeless in public. It’s perfectly commonplace.

Don’t make an okay sign (with your thumb and forefinger), which is considered offensive.


Don’t kiss in public. You could be arrested for “public obscenity.”

Don’t eat with your hands–even finger foods like fries.

Don’t wish someone a “happy birthday” before the actual day. There is a superstition attached to doing so, and even Germans who are not superstitious will feel uncomfortable.

If someone offers to buy the first round at the pub, don’t partake if you won’t be buying one later. Being cheap isn’t cool.


Don’t point. If you must, use your thumbs instead of your pointer finger.

Don’t confuse the languages. Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish.

Don’t dress inappropriately when attending a religious service or visiting a temple. Cover your arms, legs, and midriff.

Don’t assume everywhere in Canada is cold and covered in snow. Toronto in summer is the same as New York in summer.


Don’t turn down food. Italians love to share food, and if the hostess offers you something, not taking it is considered rude.

Don’t do anything with your left hand. It is considered impolite.

The Netherlands
Don’t walk in the bicycle lane. Apparently, this is one of the most annoying things tourists do in their country.

Don’t give umbrellas or clocks as gifts. Chinese culture appreciates homophones, and the Chinese word for umbrella sounds a lot like “separation,” while the word for “clock” sounds like “paying last respects.”

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