Customs Around the World: What You Should Know

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Customs around the world are often different from those we're used to. To avoid mishaps while traveling internationally, it helps to learn what is considered polite – and what isn’t.
Customs around the globe are often different from those we’re used to. To avoid mishaps while traveling internationally, it helps to learn what is considered polite – and what isn’t.

A visitor to Poland from Montreal, Canada was embarrassed after she admired the dishes on which a resident of Krakow served her dinner. Her hostess insisted that the traveler take the entire set of tableware home as a gift. The traveler avoided doing so by saying that it would be too heavy to transport in her suitcase.

A man from Miami, Florida riding on a subway in London was surprised when he accidentally jostled a British passenger standing nearby — and that man apologized to the American.

Customs Around the World

Customs around the globe are often different from those we’re used to. Behavior that’s normal and acceptable at home can be perplexing, or even insulting, elsewhere. To avoid such mishaps while traveling internationally, it helps to learn what is considered polite – and what isn’t.

If the Canadian woman in Poland had done her homework, she would have known that admiring someone’s possession in that country may prompt the person to offer the item as a gift.

Many people are aware that good manners are very much alive and well in Great Britain. If you accidentally bump into someone, it’s considered polite to say that you’re sorry – even if the encounter isn’t your fault.

The challenge can begin even before a trip gets underway. It’s natural to pack clothes that are casual and comfortable. However, residents of some countries aren’t used to seeing visitors wearing shorts, flip flops and other attire that would be at home on a beach. That’s especially true when entering a place of worship or another site that is considered sacred.

Customs around the world - In many cultures, greetings include a kiss on the check, sometimes two or three.
In many cultures, greetings include a kiss on the check, sometimes two or three. Photo by Kar Tr

Greeting with a Kiss

In some lands, a meet and greet often is accompanied by a kiss. People in Argentina may give a cheek kiss, while in Brazil, friends might exchange as many as three kisses on the cheek. Depending upon where you are in France, the practice may call for one cheek kiss in the town of Brest, two in Toulouse and up to four in Nantes.

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