There will be times in your life when travelling abroad may be appropriate. It may be for research, job or just to enjoy as a tourist. Each country has its own customs and rules which everyone is expected to obey. There’s a saying that goes “Do as the Romans do while in Rome.” That means we will seek to adapt to the culture and customs of the country in which we wish to visit. We should learn to follow the laws of the country we are visiting.

Knowing “what not to do” per time in any country can help you avoid unnecessary controversies which can be downright embarrassing and may prove disastrous.

So here’s a list of 10 things you should never do while travelling

1. Do Not Dress Inappropriately

Every country has its own dress code for appropriate occasions. For example, in European countries, wearing a coat and suit is very common but not so in many Asian countries. Similarly, many countries are frowning on shorts and jeans, while in some countries, wearing shorts, jeans etc. are considered to be quite common. In short, you should never dress in such way that you will be frowned upon by the local population.


2. Do not do things that are unhealthy and unclean

People in India have a very bad habit of chewing betel leaves and tobacco, particularly those belonging to the Northern states or certain Western states. As a consequence, they feel the desire to spit the remains out. A cursory look at the walls of Indian cities building staircases like Delhi, Bombay etc. would tell you the correct story. We should refrain from doing this form of operation. In fact, one very senior politician, who unfortunately is no more now, was denied a visa for visiting Singapore by the consulate office in his own city, precisely because of this nauseating habit of his.

3. Reduce your alcohol intake

In Islamic countries alcohol intake is strictly forbidden. Giving a bottle of alcohol to any real Muslim is considered a blasphemy. In public places in the Middle East countries alcohol consumption can never be allowed. To indulge your desire to drink, you may use the safe surroundings of your hotel room or your home.

4. Never disrespect the culture

Each country has its own culture and rituals. You should never engage in any activity that is deemed disrespectful to their culture. For example, before entering any Buddhist temple, you should remove your shoes, or cover your shoulders before entering any European church. People are fanatical about their religion and therefore every religion should have the respect it deserves.

5. Never Use Disrespectful Sign Language

For several countries, it is considered okay to display the thumbs up sign. It connotes a very different definition in some nations, including Iran, Bangladesh, Turkey etc. Never point your fingers beyond your thumb when visiting Malaysia. Across countries like Indonesia, the use of the left hand is viewed as insensitive. Patting someone’s head is used in many countries as a sign of gratitude, but in countries that are inclined toward Buddhism it is frowned upon.

6. Never share your opinion on issues deemed Taboo

Everyone have the freedom to share their views. But we should be very careful when visiting a foreign country whilst publicly expressing our opinions. For example, voicing our opinion in Russia’s politics with people over the age of 40 is risky, as they have been and still are passionate about the earlier regime.

7. Public display of affection

Hugging and kissing in public is considered normal in European countries, but at the same time in certain Asian countries, particularly in the Middle East, such acts can lead to imprisonment.


8. Food Habits

In many nations, if we waste food on the table, it’s considered disrespectful of the host. It’s also considered unpolitical in some parts of Italy if we refuse to eat food provided by the host even though we just had it. Please be careful when doing so.

9. Traffic Policies

In India, people are not serious about traffic rules and regulations. For other nations, however, citizens must abide by their laws. Lane discipline is an absolute must. We need to be careful about speed regulations and avoid honking horns while driving, especially in places like Dubai etc.

10. Don’t compromise on your safety

People seek to cut corners and then seem to miss out on their safety. Walking alone after dark, in some countries, is risky. Use a taxi service when possible. Always ensure that you check the hotel feedback prior to booking while preparing to stay in hotels.

Other than these 10 tips, it is important that you do personal research on any country you will be visiting before travelling. This could help you avoid being embarrassed when you get there.

What do you never do when visiting other countries?