9 Common American Habits You Should Never Do In An Another Country
Booking a trip to another country is exciting, but it's important to do your research before you land overseas. Knowing another place's culture is key, especially since some of the things we regularly do might not be acceptable there. There are a number of common cultural differences in other countries, and if you're not aware of them, you might run into some sticky situations during your travels.
"You can read about other cultures in a book, but traveling is an immersive experience," travel blogger Krista Canfield tells Bustle. "When you travel, you're given the wonderful opportunity to see the differences and similarities between people and places firsthand. Don't assume everything is the same as it is back home, and when in doubt, fake it 'till you make it. Instead of burying your head in your travel to-do list on day one of your trip, head to a café and sip a cup of tea or coffee, and people watch for a bit to see how the locals interact."
Something you do back home that seems totally innocent might rub someone the wrong way in a different culture. To not run into these issues this, you should watch out for these nine common American habits experts say my not be well received around the world.
1. Eating On The Go
Here in the US, it may not seem like a big deal to grab your lunch to go and eat it on the way to your next meeting. But in other countries, this is a no-no. "In Asia and Europe, eating on the go is a big faux pas," says Canfield. "Eating and drinking is for socializing, even if it's just a quick coffee. Street food is common in these places, but you should indulge at the place of purchase, not on the go."
2. Minding Your Own Business When Shopping
In France, you must greet the shop owner when entering. "Americans are used to minding their own business when out and about, but it is considered extremely rude not to interact when entering a business in France," Tara Cappel, founder of millennial group travel company, For the Love of Travel, tells Bustle. "Not saying hello to someone when you enter their shop or restaurant is like walking into someone’s house and not acknowledging them. Always, always, say 'Bonjour!' when entering an establishment in France."
3. Sitting In The Back Of A Cab
In the US, sitting in the back of the cab or Uber is standard. But in places like Australia, New Zealand, parts of Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands, you're expected to sit shotgun — it's the polite thing to do.
4. Blowing Your Nose In Public
Most of us don't think twice about blowing our nose when we need to, no matter where we are. However, if you're in a country like China, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, or Turkey, blowing your nose in public is considered rude and repulsive.
5. Paying Small Amounts With Large Bills
In Italy, it's considered rude to pay for small amounts with large bills. "Italians hate any banknotes over a 20 euro bill, and it’s considered obnoxious to pay for small items with large bills," says Cappel. "It’s not uncommon for shopkeepers to straight up refuse to sell you something if you try to pay with large bills. Always keep small change on you for espressos and souvenirs."
6. Tipping Large Amounts
In many places where tipping isn't commonplace, such as Europe, leaving a large amount is actually seen as an insult. Five to 10 percent is normal, but going for the typical American amount of 15 to 20 percent can be seen as culturally insensitive.
7. Being Fashionably Late
In America, it's not uncommon to arrive a little bit after an invite time — you like to give your host some leeway. But in certain countries, you'll want to be prompt. "In many European countries, there's no such thing as running fashionably late — being late is just flat out considered rude," says Canfield. "Japan is also known for being a very prompt country."
Find yourself in New York, and you'll find that jaywalking is practically a competitive sport. But in places like Germany, it’s a huge no-no. "Germans like to follow the rules and crossing when the sign is red (even if there are literally no cars in sight) will result in some disapproving stares from the locals," says Cappel.
9. Using Common Gestures
Throwing a thumbs up, putting your hand in your pocket, or using your left hand to grab something might seem like no big deal, but in certain countries, these gestures will get you into trouble. In places like the Middle East, Latin America, Western Africa, Russia, and Greece, using a thumbs up is akin to throwing up the middle finger. In Turkey and some Asian countries, having one hand in your pocket is seen as arrogant. In much of the Middle East, using your left hand for eating or other things is considered disgusting and rude.
When in doubt, try to use your best manners when traveling, and read up on any relevant information before you go. There's always something to be learned when traveling to new places.