7 Strange Social Norms of a Traveller

7 Strange Social Norms of Traveller

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

Left hand loser- strange social norms  of a traveller- lifetime traveller
Left Hand Loser

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

Making a Point

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

barefoot madness- strange social norms  of a traveller- lifetime traveller
Bare Rudeness

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

salt shaker- strange social norms  of a traveller- lifetime traveller
Salt in the wound

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

handing and receiving with both hands- lifetime traveller
Be polite

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

Be polite, manners are important- strange social norms  of a traveller- lifetime traveller
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

Late for the date-  lifetime traveller
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.

Bonus Fact

hello around the world- lifetime trevaller
Hello around the world

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)

Egyptian/ Arabic

  • 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

Sri Lanka

  • Hello- Ayubowan
  • Goodbye- Ayubowan
  • Thank You- Bohoma Istuti (Bo-hoh-mah Iss-too-tee)

See also:
Save Money While Traveling
Why Travel the World
Plan your Next Trip
Refund or Rebook, Know your Right

Thank You

Travel with cooky

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

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3 thoughts on “7 Strange Social Norms of a Traveller”

  1. J Ivan Quezada

    Great travel information. I am glad I found this site to be well informed before heading to my next destination.
    Keep up the good work!

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