When in Rome: Five Customs to Keep in Mind When Traveling

Five Customs to Keep in Mind When Traveling (Image: Wikimedia)It’s said that, when you’re in Rome, you should do as the Romans do. But when you don’t know what the Romans consider customary, it’s easy to end up looking like a classless, impolite foreigner.

 

So as to not get branded with a scarlet “T” (for tourist) when you travel, we’ve put together a roundup of cultural customs you should adhere to when visiting some countries around the world.

 

Eat Only with the Right Hand in India: In India and a number of Middle Eastern countries, the left hand is considered unclean because it’s the hand traditionally used for cleaning oneself. In most circumstances, stick with the right hand when eating or receiving food.

 

 

Mind Your Hand Gestures in Indonesia: Now that scores of American women are off to Bali to find love (thanks Elizabeth Gilbert!),  it’s important to know you should never point at someone with the index finger or touch someone on the head, which is considered the most sacred part of the human body. Both are considered rude.

 

Blow Your Nose Discretely in Ecuador: In the U.S. it’s not unusual to see people blowing their nose in public, especially in cities like New York and Chicago where commuters have limited privacy when crammed in trains, buses and work cubicles with others. This is considered highly offensive in Ecuador; always retreat to the bathroom to take care of business.

 

Take Your Shoes Off in Thailand: If you find yourself entering someone’s home or a religious temple in Thailand and other parts of Asia like Japan, Korea and Vietnam leave your shoes, and the filth embedded under them at the door, pointing  toward the world outside.

 

Get Up-Close –and-Personal in Argentina: Americans value their personal space when conversing with others face-to-face and tend to find people who get too close for comfort a bit “creepy”. Put that notion aside when visiting Argentina and other Latin American countries, where standard distance between two people chatting is an intimate one or two feet. Don’t back away from the other person either – it’s considered insulting.

 

 

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