Strange Social Norms of a Traveller
Strange social norms of traveller: Travelling is the gateway to the soul. So many of us enjoy visiting and immersing ourselves in completely different cultures. However, what may be a complete social norm to us, may well be a horrific insult to others.
Country by country people have their own rituals and etiquette that may go completely against all you know. While on your travels the last thing you would want to do is offend your local hosts.
In this article, I am going to share with you 7 social ‘norms’ that will have you thinking twice before going about your daily business.
1. Using Your Left Hand
First in 7 strange social norms of a traveller: Using your left hand. In many cultures around the world, using your left hand is considered extremely rude and insulting. From culture to culture, some people use their left hand to clean themselves after using the bathroom. So you can now see why this is considered extremely rude to offer this hand out to someone. Countries around the Middle East, parts of Africa, Sri Lanka, and India are the countries to avoid doing this.
2. Pointing With Your Index Finger
While most people would agree with this anyway, other cultures take it much more seriously. Pointing with your index finger is considered extremely rude and in places such as Malaysia and Indonesia, many will use their thumb in which to do so. This is considered a much more polite approach. In some countries in Africa, they go even further. Pointing in any terms is reserved for just inanimate objects, not towards people at all.
3. Barefoot Bad Luck
Now many people may not be a huge fan of feet anyway. However, in countries within South East Asia, it is considered extremely rude to show the soles of your feet, or point feet in general, towards anyone. This is up there with one of the worst possible things you can do. When sitting on the ground, which is very common, make sure you tuck your feet underneath and away from anyone you may be facing.
Also, it is an absolute must to leave your shoes at the door at any establishment you enter in Thailand.
4. Skip The Salt
Egypt is a beautiful country and one which prides itself on its hospitality. People will do anything to help you out. Should you ever find yourself as a guest amongst an Egyptian host, don’t go for the salt. Adding salt to a meal is considered an insult and that you find your hosts offering repulsive.
5. Receive With Both Hands
Again, South East Asia makes this list. This is more of politeness rather than avoiding insult. When receiving something from a Thai, including change when buying something, hold both hands out together. Intern, your host will also present the item with two hands. This is considered very polite in Thailand and will be sure to put a smile on someone’s face. Not that they need too much encouragement in the ‘The Land of Smiles’
6. Mind Your P’s and Q’s
When visiting the United Kingdom, it is true that manners are high on the agenda. When asking or receiving anything from goods, change, or even if someone lets your out at a junction or intersection, ALWAYS say please or thank you! There is no pet hate worse amongst the British than this. Should you forget to thank someone who holds a door for you, expect to receive a very sarcastic ‘You’re Welcome’, just to outline their offence.
7. Be Late For That Important Date
This may seem very strange to many cultures. Being from the U.K myself, being late is extremely frowned upon. However, should you ever find yourself arranging to meet others in the South American country of Venezuela, make sure your ‘fashionably late’. You should aim to arrive around 15 minutes after the set time. Arriving on time or early, especially to a meal is considered being too eager or greedy.
Well, to reward you for reading the entire artile, here is a little bonus for you!
If you really want to be as polite as possible while travelling, learn the lingo! Of course, I am not saying to learn 6500 languages (the estimated amount spoke worldwide)! But just being able to say hello, please, and thank you in your host nation’s language will go so far.
Just by making this effort, they are likely to converse with you, even if your language is not second nature to them. What’s more, if it puts a smile on someone’s face, why not! Below, I have added these three simple phrases for the 7 different destinations you just learnt about.
- Hello- Hola
- Goodbye- Adios, Hasta Luego
- Thank You- Gracias.
- Hello- Selamat
- Goodbye- Selamat tinggal
- Thanks You- Terima Kasih
- Hello- Sawasdee khrap (Male)/kha (Female) (sounds like “sah-wah-dee”)
- Goodbye- Laagorn Krab/Ka
- Thank You- Khob-Khun Krub(male) Ka(female)
- Hello– Salām ‘alaykum / Reply with- wa ‘alaykum is salām
- Goodbye- Ma’is salāma
- Thank You- Shukran
South African/ Africaans
- Hello- Hallo
- Goodbye- Totsiens
- Thank You- Dankie
- Hello- Salam
- Goodbye- Selamat tinggal
- Thank You- Terima keasih
- Hello- Ayubowan
- Goodbye- Ayubowan
- Thank You- Bohoma Istuti (Bo-hoh-mah Iss-too-tee)
My name is Ryan, and I am the creator of the travel blog ‘Travel With Cooky’. I would like to thank Jeric for the opportunity to write for ‘Lifetime Traveller’. If you liked this article, please take a minute to subscribe to Lifetime Traveller and hop over to Travel With Cooky and see what more there is to offer.
Grazie Jeric and Lifetime Traveller. Ciao For Now
My name is Ryan, and I am here to debunk the myth that you have to be a millionaire to travel frequently. On this site, I am here to help YOU travel more for less. Check out the reviews of some of the many places I have visited and helping YOU to get out there and see the world through your own eyes!