It is a fact that when most Americans travel abroad, the last thing they ever want to do is to offend the people, cultures or religions they encounter in their host countries. However, most of them fail terribly and end up doing an array of things deemed inappropriate in the destinations they are visiting.
If you are an American going for online passport renewal to travel abroad, you should know the “please” and “thank” are not the only things you need to master in order to be in good terms with the people in your host countries. Most of the times, a lot is not demanded, and if you take just a little time to read about the cultures of the communities you will be interacting with, then you will reduce your chances of doing all the bad things. Here is a look at some of the most inappropriate things Americans do when they travel abroad-:
Using the left hand
In Africa and many countries in South East Asia, using the left hand is highly encouraged and is even considered a taboo if used for eating in certain regions. To these people, the left hand is always associated with a myriad of bad things, including bad omens, and therefore, it is generally a dirty hand. As such, you should never use the left hand for greeting people, eating, presenting a gift or touching someone.
Sitting in the back seat of a taxi
In the US, the procedure if that you hail a cab, and once it has stopped completely, you get in and take your place at the back seat, especially if you are a lone traveler. If you do this in New Zealand and Australia, the cab drivers may not be very pleased with you. When you are alone, they will expect you to sit in front of them. By taking the back seat, you make them appear as if they are your chauffeur, and this is not something they appreciate. But for safety reasons, female travelers are still encouraged to take the back seat, nonetheless.
American has an engraved culture of tipping and it is funny to note that most people will expect to be tipped. While this is the culture in most countries the world, it is something you must never do in Japan. In fact, if you tip in Japan, it could be viewed as an insult and not a show of appreciation. This is because the Japanese prefer to be paid only when they work. Tip to them is free money and they don’t deserve it because they were just doing their jobs when they served you. You should not even leave small change in the restaurants. They will always come running after you to give you your money. Just make it a habit of reading about the tipping cultures in the countries you intend to visit after you do online passport renewal.
Giving the peace signs
Giving signs with your hand is something you should be very careful about in the respective countries you will be traveling to. In New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the UK, the peace sign is considered an obscene gesture and it could be compared to showing the middle finger in the west. This is not the gesture you want to be showing if at all what you need is peace.
Sitting while showing the sole of your shoes
Most men in the United States usually sit while showing the sole of their shoes without thinking twice. Once they sit down, they will place one leg across the opposing knee then slouch back on the seat. Though it is a comfortable posture, it is something you should not do when visiting the Middle East. They will find it extremely offensive since the sole is considered dirty due and it is something you should never display to anyone.
Crossing your fingers
In the United States, if you cross your fingers, then it is a sign of your being anxious and hoping that a situation turns out the way you had wanted or if you are hoping for some good luck to come your way. In a country like Vietnam, you may want to think twice before you cross your finger for good luck. You will just see people start to stare at you. It is a vulgar sign in Vietnam as it represents a certain female body part.
Touching someone’s head
In the United States, touching someone’s head is almost instinctive, and most parts of Europe. It is a sign of appreciation, approval or admiration. It is also a way of showing love and affection to kids. But in countries where the majority practice Buddhism like China, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, you must never touch anyone’s head. This is because according to Buddhism, the head is one of the most secret parts of the body, and it is believed to be the dwelling place of the human’s spirit. Therefore, you should always keep your hands off people’s heads in such countries. Additionally, you are highly encouraged to not walk around touching people you don’t know. With countries such as Kenya which has very strong sexual harassment laws, you never know when you may get in trouble just for touching people.
The thumbs up sign
There are certain countries where the thumbs up sign has negative connotations, and as such, you should avoid using it at any given time. Some of these countries include-: Greece, Italy, Afghanistan, Israel, Iran, Thailand, South America and West Africa.
The Okay sign
In the United States, it is okay to show the okay sign to give approval. But in countries such as Germany and Brazil, the sign means a hole and it is sometimes associated with a certain female body part. The sign may also have negative connotations in Turkey, Venezuela, and France.
Putting Your Hands In Your Pockets
This is another practice that comes second to nature in the United States, but in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and some other countries in the Middle East, pocketing can make you get killed. This is purely for security reasons. When you put your hands in your pockets, they really don’t know if you are reaching for a gun or a grenade to blow them up. Your hands should always be where they can see.