Whether it’s tasting different cuisines or taking in picture-perfect views, everyone’s got a different reason to see the world. But being a great traveller goes beyond taking the perfect selfie. It’s about respecting the culture of your destination by doing your research beforehand, or risk finding out the hard way about the local dos and don’ts.
So here are 5 common travel blunders from around the world and what you can do to avoid them…
#1 Splitting the bill - France
If there’s one thing the French take seriously, it’s etiquette at the dinner table. Not only is it unwise to begin eating until your host says “bon appétit”, splitting the bill is also considered very unsophisticated. So at your next escargot tasting, take turns with your travel companion in paying the bill.
#2 Fumbling with your chopsticks - China
One of the best things about dining in China is getting to replace your knife and fork with chopsticks. Although they can be a bit tricky to get the hang of, it’s really important that you avoid stabbing your chopsticks in an upright position. This is hugely offensive to Chinese as it mimics sacred funeral rituals where incense sticks are used as ‘offerings’ to deities and ancestors.
So don’t just fumble your way around your meal, before you travel, give yourself a chopstick eating crash course by visiting your local Chinese takeout and practice using chopsticks at home or check out this chopsticks etiquette infographic on other ways to stay polite at the dinner table.
#3 Forgetting to count your bouquet - Russia
There is something about receiving a bunch of flowers that puts a smile on everyone’s face, right? Wrong. In Russia, you should only ever give a bunch of flowers as a gift if the bouquet has an uneven amount of flowers in it. Why? In Russia, flowers with an even amount are traditionally reserved for funerals, so be sure to tell the florist that it’s a “dlya podarka” (Russian word for gift) when you’re at the checkout.
#4 Keeping it cashless - Japan
While we’ve all grown accustomed to paying by a bank card wherever we go thanks to contactless “tap-and-go” technology, if you’re planning on visiting Japan you should be aware that some merchants still only accept cash. This means you’ll need to use the ATM more regularly and with overseas ATM withdrawals being as high as $5 a pop from your regular bank account plus getting charged a foreign exchange fee on the withdrawal amount, you might want to consider other payment methods like a prepaid travel card that doesn’t charge overseas ATM withdrawal or purchase fees.
In addition to being able to withdraw cash from most ATMs, these handy travel cards also allow you to load up multiple currencies and make purchases wherever Visa or Mastercard is accepted.
#5 Getting too close for comfort - United Arab Emirates
It’s widely known that public displays of affection in the UAE are frowned upon and could even land you in jail. But what you might not know is that for religious reasons, women in the UAE will not shake hands with the opposite sex. So if visiting, play it safe and greet residents by placing your right hand across your heart as this represents sincerity and respect.
Kirsty Lamont is a travel money expert and director at financial website mozo.com.au. She is passionate about helping people make the most out their experiences when travelling abroad and saving a few bucks along the way.
All images courtesy and © mozo.com.au