Avoid Offending Other People – 10 Innocent Gestures That You Should Not Do When Traveling Abroad

Making certain gestures is a part of many people’s life. When you’re happy about something you give the “thumbs-up” and when you’re agreeing with someone you tend to nod.

Nothing wrong with that right? Well, believe it or not, some countries translate those gestures very differently. To the point where you can actually offend other people and get in trouble because of it. Remember that other countries have different cultures and so the gestures that you usually make may not translate well with the country you’re visiting.

Instead of making excuses and being unaware of these gestures. We will be talking about some of the most innocent gestures that some countries may misinterpret to help keep you away from trouble.

The “A-OK” hand gesture

ok-sign

Seems harmless enough right? Well, although some people see this as a sign of approval or being “ok” with something, for other countries like Greece or France this can mean a completely different thing.

Since this gesture makes a somewhat “zero” shape then in France this could mean that you’re calling someone a “zero” or someone that’s worthless. In Greece, this is actually a symbol for homosexuality.

This also has a negative connotation in countries like Germany, Brazil, Valenzuela and Turkey.

Riding at the backseat of a taxi

riding-taxi

Most people see this a norm. When riding a taxi most people usually sit at the backseat for privacy or as a preference. Many cab drivers may find the habit a bit snobbish in countries like Australia and New Zealand especially if you’re male and riding the cab alone.

The “reverse peace” sign

reverse-peace

The typical peace sign usually involves you making a “V” symbol using your index and ring finger with the palms of your hand facing the other person. The reverse peace sign, however, is done in the same manner but with the palms of your hands facing you.

The gesture is definitely harmless for most countries and may even look cool. That said, in Britain however, the reverse peace is equivalent to giving someone the middle finger.

The “thumbs-up” gesture

thumbs-up

This is the typical gesture for telling someone they did a great job or if you’re agreeing with them. In countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Italy, and Greece however this means “up yours”. So think very carefully of where you are before making this gesture.

Giving tips

giving-tips

A lot of people would thank you for giving them a tip. In Japan though this is seen as rude and very insulting. The Japanese are very proud people, so you giving them a tip is like saying that you need to pay them extra just to do a good job. It is a bit weird and we know you mean well but trust us when we say don’t do it.

Putting your hands in your pocket

hands-in-pocket

It may seem a bit weird but in Turkey this is seen as very disrespectful. Sure a lot of people around the world do it but don’t do it in Turkey.

Patting someone in the head

buddha

This is actually not limited to any one country but more on the Buddhist religion. You see, Buddhists believe that the top of the head is where the spirit lies and so if you do pat a Buddhist in the head it means that you’re disrespecting them. So think twice before you pat a kid or anybody else in the head.

Crossing your fingers

fingers-crossed

In the west and other countries this means that you’re hoping for good luck. In Vietnam though this can be a very obscene gesture because they believe that it has some resemblances to a certain part of the female’s anatomy.

Adding condiments to your food

condiments

Yes, this isn’t really a gesture but we think that this is very important for you to take note of. In Egypt, you adding salt or any other condiments to a food means that you hated it and are not satisfied with it. This especially true if you’re eating at someone’s household.

Using your left hand while eating

eat-left

Our apologies to all our lefty readers out there but for countries in the Middle East as well as India, Sri Lanka, and Africa using the left hand can be seen as unclean. For these countries using the left hand can be associated with cleaning yourself after going into the bathroom.

Hopefully, you learn a lot of things from this article. Remember to be very careful of what gesture or body language you make in other countries. Make sure that you do your research first and find out what gestures you should avoid when visiting a certain country. This can definitely help you stay away from trouble and have a better experience during your visit.

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Written by Kaye

Kaye

Kaye is a traveler by heart and she doesn’t leave without her partner in crime, her travel pillow. Kaye is also into the arts and crafts hobby and loves embroidery and knitting. She will be sharing traveling tips to help you get the most out of your journey.

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