What To Avoid When Travelling Abroad


Don’t keep your elbow on the table, don’t stare, don’t talk too loud, don’t dare lift your index finger, never decline a drink, never be late, never be on time, never smile… phew! Just when you thought you could have some fun on your business trip, you realise that even an act as innocent as breathing could end up offending someone, somewhere. So, for old-time’s sake, here is a list of don’ts to keep in mind when travelling abroad, to avoid embarrassment.

In the Middle East you may get very touchy-feely with the men; yet, one should never touch a woman.

Europeans tend to be stricter about table manners than Americans are. Do not rest your elbows on the table, but keep both hands above the table at all times. Do this by resting your wrists on the edge of the table.

p>Never tilt your chair back on two legs and push food onto a fork with your finger, when in European countries.

In Japan, punctuality is extremely important. So, never be late- if you make plans to meet at 11:00 am for a meeting, then you should probably be there by 10:45 am.

In Britain, one shouldn’t stick up their index and middle finger with palms facing inwards; the equivalent of the American middle finger.

In China, don’t address anyone casually. Always address a person using his or her family name.

In most countries, businesspeople want to get to know you before getting down to business, particularly those from Latin America and Asia. Don’t rush into business talk.

Never put a business card in your back pocket, as this is seen as a sign of disrespect in all cultures.

Keep your distance when conversing. If an American feels you are standing too close, he or she may step back without even thinking about it.

Americans are often uncomfortable with silence. Silence is avoided in social or business meetings.

Do not cross your legs when sitting, as showing the bottom of your shoe or foot is offensive in many countries.

Play By The Rules

In Russia, do not stand with your hands in your pocket. This is considered rude.

Be alert and open to taking a drink or having a toast, as refusing to do so is a serious breach of etiquette in Russia.

In Japan, avoid using grand hand gestures, unusual facial expressions and any dramatic movements. The Japanese do not talk with their hands and to do so could distract your host.

In Brazil, colours of the Brazilian flag are yellow and green. Avoid wearing this combination in any fashion.

Purple flowers are extensively used at funerals in some Latin American countries, so be cautious when giving someone purple flowers. Violets are okay to give.

In Asia, never touch somebody with your foot, considered the lowest part of the body, or touch somebody’s head, considered the highest part.

Never tip in a British pub (or in Japan).

In Great Britain, never rush people into making a decision. Privacy is very important to the English.

Germans do not like surprises. So, sudden changes in plans are unwelcome.

In Muslim countries, never eat with your left hand.

In Australia, alcohol is discouraged at business luncheons.

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