10 American Customs Not To Do When Traveling Abroad

10 American customs not do to when traveling abroadIt 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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Why You Should try Turkey’s Alternative Cruising Style

A stunning cruise on a traditional gulet that makes every second enjoyable and awe inspiring. Explore ancient ruins with exceptional backdrops that look like they are straight from a painting.

When you think of Turkey and cruising you would probably think of an ocean liner visiting a number of countries along the Mediterranean Sea. However, Turkey has been running a different type of cruise and every year more and more people are booking as soon as they can.

Oludeniz Beach in Turkey
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Gulet cruises are drawing people to unique holiday destinations. Gulets are traditional boats that have been made in places like Istanbul and Fethiye for generations. As popularity has increased so did the number of boat yards making them. These gulets started out as working boats for ferrying cargo or fishing. However, do not mistake their humble beginnings; new gulets are being fitted specifically for tourism and companies like Alaturka Cruises make holidays on these types of vessels a reality. Alaturka Cruises

The cruises often embark on short four or five day journeys, but this does not mean that they are lacking in the quality of destinations explored along the way. The Turkish coastline is full of ancient and natural wonders that should not be missed. In addition, the harbors where these cruises depart from and arrive to are often worth visiting themselves.

The modern gulet is made to be luxurious and comfortable whilst maintaining its rich history. The rooms are ideally sized to give enough space on, board especially as most people spend their days relaxing on deck. As another highlight, it is also possible to sleep on deck – bringing up the bedding from the room and sleeping under the stars while listening to the sounds of water gently splashing the shore.

The Turquoise coast is famous for its crystal-clear waters and natural untouched islands. While the natural beauty is a huge draw for these tours there are also many historical locations to experience. Ancient ruins such as the Sunken City just outside of Kekova are a stunning site to see. This historic city that once flourished was unluckily hit by a major earthquake that destroyed the town and sunk a section which can now be seen from aboard your gulet. Alakisla cape - Gokova Gulf

Some islands have a wonderful balance of natural and historical sites. St. Nicolas Island was designed to have this balance as it was built as a place of worship but the natural beauty was not destroyed to make way for it. Since then, nature has regrown among the ruins and visitors can take a walk around this small island that has the backdrop of Gemiler beach and the Aegean Sea.

Those islands that have been left virtually untouched often have some superb swimming areas. While the coast is famous for all of the islands off the coast there are also many bays that are only reached by boat. Butterfly Valley has become famous for this very reason. Butterfly Valley is a protected area of land for the preservation of the butterflies from which it has earned its name.

What cruise would be complete without some amazing food such as traditional dishes served fresh for each meal. This includes breakfasts consisting of freshly cooked eggs, cold meats, jams and other Turkish preserves, bread, as well as some fresh light salad items. These meals are especially made to be filling but not too heavy so that passengers can still swim after their meal. Other meals vary between fresh barbecued fish or an option of meat, with traditional Turkish mezes that are gorgeous in flavour and make you want to come back again and again.

Sun, Sea and Swimming in Southwest Turkey
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Sun, Sea and Swimming in Southwest Turkey

The Southwest coastline of turkey, also known as the Turquoise coast, boasts fantastic beaches, idyllic swimming spots and plenty of sunshine.

When you think of Turkey you may have an image in mind of over crowded bazaars, skylines dominated by minarets and chaotic city centre traffic jams. While this is not entirely inaccurate in cities like Istanbul, the southwestern region of Turkey moves at a slightly slower pace and destinations along the Turquoise Coast are idyllic places to plan your seaside vacation. Whether you prefer to stay by the beach or take to the sea for a Blue Cruise Turkey this region is brimming with stunning locations to bask in the sun and bathe in the sea.

On the Beach…

Many of Turkey’s southwestern beaches are mini paradises, with smooth pebbles or white sand, l lined with umbrellas and air loungers and  hidden between  thickly forested slopes or rocky cliff faces, some can be reached by land while others are only accessible by sea.

Butterfly Valley of one of these secluded beaches, with sheer rock walls surrounding a lush green valley which opens to a small bay of crystal clear water. Being an environmentally protected area means that in this valley you’re not going to find any large whitewash holiday homes of chain stores, in fact the only building is a rustic wooden shack selling drinks and refreshments on the edge of the beach. The water in the bay is so clear that even without a mask you can watch sea life swimming about.

A little less isolated but equally stunning is Patara beach, with soft sand that stretches across the coast for 12 km, framed by a Lycian guard station on the western side and and ancient port city and turtle nesting ground at the eastern side. Be sure to watch out for rare Caretta as you bathe under the sun and search for wildlife in the wetlands behind the beach.

Image Source: Patara, Turkey Secret Seaside Telegraph.co.uk

For a little Adventure…

In the hottest part of summer it can even be too hot to lay on the beach and the best thing to do is throw yourself into the azure blue sea. Fortunately there is a place known to locals as Tarzan Bay which is perfect for this. Here a lone tree has grown from between the rocks and a thick branch overhangs the water. When, who and how is still a mystery but at some point a rope appeared dangling from this branch. Too tempting to be left alone visitors line up to swing ‘Tarzan Style’ from the rocky shore and plunge into the refreshingly cool bay, making a wild jungle cry as fly through the air.

Off the Ground….

Oludeniz Beach in Turkey
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One of the most loved beach towns of southwestern Turkey is Oludeniz, situated at the foot of the famous Baba Mountain which casts long shadows over the wide beach each morning. The town of Oludeniz is a popular departure point for day cruises to the Butterfly Valley, St Nicholas Island, Blue Cave and Cold Water Bay, it’s also one of the top locations for paragliding in the world. If you’re not afraid of heights then hop in a minivan to the peak at over 2,000 metres and fly above the stunning Blue Lagoon, make 180 degree turns in the air and slowly descend to land on the beachside promenade. Even if you don’t like heights, the gorgeous view may make you forget you fear. If not then you can stop by one of the lively beach bars for cocktails, seafood and live music.

When it’s Party Time…

After the sun has set and you’ve finished swimming you might be wondering what theres is to do in southwest Turkey in the evenings. Well, this region is also known for its buzzing nightlife, the resort towns of Marmaris, Kusadasi and Bodrum are all overrun with bars and clubs. Bodrum is perfect for the party animals, said to have more bars than beds and host of the the largest outdoor nightclub in the mediterranean, Halikarnas, which stays open late enough to see the sunrise.

For a something a quieter, head to the Smugglers Inn. Well known by sailors and locals, but international travelers usually only find there way to this secluded beach bar via a Fethiye to Olympos Cruise on a classic wooden gulet boat.

Dive into the Deep Blue…

Swimming and snorkeling in the Aquarium Bay of the naturally beautiful Kekova RegionSwimming and snorkeling in the Aquarium Bay of the naturally beautiful Kekova Region will bring you pretty close to a wide variety of sea life; clownfish, damselfish, red mullets and eels are all floating about. If you want to delve a little further to search for stingrays and sea urchins or explore the impressive underwater corals and vertical seawalls then head to the modern port town of Kas, where diving boats depart each day to the best spots on the Mediterranean Sea.

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