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Travel Etiquette Behaviors

Travel Etiquette Behaviors

Travel etiquette behaviors, gestures and customs can differ drastically from country to country. Brush up on our travel etiquette before setting off on your Holiday!

Thumbs up

It’s surprising how such a small thing can be mean so many different things. In the UK, ‘thumbs up’ may be a positive sign, but in Sardinia and Greece it means ‘screw you’. In some Middle Eastern countries, it translates as a foul insult, literally ‘up yours’, if you get
what we mean…

In Indonesia on the other hand, the thumb is often used for pointing – using fingers is often considered to be rude.

A-Okay

Similarly confusing is the good old ‘a-okay’ gesture, where your thumb connects with your index finger to form an ‘O’ shape. In parts of Australia this simply means ‘okay’, but in Brazil and Germany it is used as an insult. In Japan the same motion represents coins, in Russia it means zero, and in France it is an expression of worthlessness.

Headshake

Contrary to the UK, Bulgarians, and Iranians shake their heads for ‘yes’ and nod for ‘no’. In Greece, Lebanon and Turkey, a slight downward nod of the head means ‘yes’ whereas tilting it up means ‘no’. In India, a head waggle can mean a range of things, such as ‘I am considering what you said’.

Putting your feet up

It is best not to point the soles of your feet in anyone’s direction in Muslim countries, and in Thailand, pointing your feet towards a Buddha is a sign of disrespect. On a similar note, avoid stepping over anybody’s legs whilst in Nepal.

Personal space

In the UK, we tend to value our privacy and personal space. In contrast, other cultures are much less inhibited. In the Mediterranean, Latin America and some parts of the Middle East, people will be much more liable to stand closer and make more expressive physical contact.

Tick tock

Turning up a few minutes late for social arrangements is usually considered okay in the UK, but we aren’t as laid back as Argentina, where arriving anywhere between one and three hours late is fine. Bad time keeping is less tolerated in Germany.

Hand in hand

Men holding hands or walking arm in arm in Muslim countries, India and Africa is perfectly acceptable as a friendly gesture, whereas in Europe it suggests a more intimate relationship.

Lefty or righty

In India and parts of Africa, the left hand is considered to be unclean, so stick to eating, greeting people and gesturing with your right hand if possible.

Short shorts

In India, only boys under 11 or 12 years old wear shorts, so sometimes the locals will find it hilarious to see older men in shorts.

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