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42 biggest travel blunders around the world
Destinations & Inspiration

42 biggest travel blunders around the world

Suzie Dalton
By Suzie Dalton - 11 minute read

At Love Home Swap, we embrace the idea that our mem­bers can enjoy a tru­ly local trav­el expe­ri­ence. Our friend­ly com­mu­ni­ty swap homes all over the world, and in 2019, near­ly 10,000 swaps were con­duct­ed. That’s a lot of trav­el­ling – and a LOT of amaz­ing adven­tures. Yet it can be the small details that can make or break a trav­el expe­ri­ence. For exam­ple, were you aware that trav­el­ling in Por­tu­gal dos and don’ts include the fact that you should nev­er ask for salt and pep­per, as it casts asper­sions on the cook’s capa­bil­i­ties in the kitchen? Mean­while, clear­ing your plate in Ukraine is an insult to the chef – yet in Eng­land, it’s a com­pli­ment? And while these points are light-heart­ed, it’s also essen­tial to remem­ber that there are much more seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tions too – such as what to wear and how to behave when vis­it­ing a place of wor­ship. It’s impor­tant that you know these things, so check out our info­graph­ic and the tips below before your trip abroad, and avoid mak­ing an eti­quette faux pas.

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Now this over­sight of what not to do in oth­er coun­tries is far from exhaustive.

Of course, there are oth­er fac­tors to con­sid­er too – such what might offend spe­cif­ic cul­tures and reli­gions. It’s always a good idea to Google the area you’re going to vis­it, to deter­mine what is and isn’t accept­able. For exam­ple, in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates and Egypt, you should avoid being affec­tion­ate in pub­lic spaces. Because while these are well-loved tourist des­ti­na­tions, they are also Islam­ic coun­tries. It’s impor­tant to dress mod­est­ly, and to hold off from kiss­ing and cud­dling in pub­lic. Dif­fer­ent rules apply for the beach – you can wear your biki­ni or swim­ming shorts – but cov­er up when you’re not sun­ning your­self. The same rules apply to any Islam­ic country.

Travelling items

What if you’re explor­ing Thai­land? It’s a well-known par­ty des­ti­na­tion, and it’s not uncom­mon to see the young peo­ple wear­ing skimpi­er cloth­ing in the cities. But with 94% of the pop­u­la­tion prac­tic­ing Bud­dhism, what are the Thai eti­quette dos and don’ts? In fact, it’s worth remem­ber­ing that the tem­ples have a very strict dress code. If you’re vis­it­ing one of their many gor­geous tem­ples, you need to dress accord­ing­ly. Both men and women should wear loose-fit­ting clothes, with long sleeves and either long trousers or a long skirt. For a great over­sight of how to behave in a tem­ple (includ­ing the best way to ask a monk for a self­ie!) then check out this arti­cle.

Every reli­gion has its own list of what is and isn’t accept­able when vis­it­ing a place of wor­ship, but this BBC arti­cle on reli­gious tourism eti­quette is a fan­tas­tic start­ing point.

Mov­ing on from reli­gion, there are plen­ty of hints and tips out there on what is and isn’t accept­able in every coun­try. Try Googling for ex-pat blogs in your cho­sen coun­try, as these are often an insight­ful way to dis­cov­er what will upset the locals. A quick search for eti­quette dos and don’ts’ will also turn up lots of inter­est­ing arti­cles, like this blog. Flag­ging up a mul­ti­tude of key man­ner-clangers, their top tips include try­ing to speak a lit­tle French when in France. The locals won’t expect you to be flu­ent, but even a s’il vous plait’ (please) and mer­ci’ (thank you) will make them like you a lot more! The arti­cle also high­lights that you should refrain from tip­ping in Japan, or you may inad­ver­tent­ly offend wait­ing staff (appar­ent­ly excel­lent ser­vice comes as standard).

In fact, the issue of tip­ping is some­thing of a hot pota­to, as where you are in the world will affect how much you should tip, or even whether you should tip. We’ve already ascer­tained that the Japan­ese don’t expect a tip as they’re so proud of their excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice (yet anoth­er rea­son why Japan is such an amaz­ing vaca­tion des­ti­na­tion), but did you know that tip­ping is grad­u­al­ly becom­ing slight­ly more com­mon­place in Chi­na? Wait­ing staff in Cam­bo­dia, Malaysia, Thai­land, Viet­nam and Indone­sia appre­ci­ate a small tip, while it’s nor­mal to tip 15 – 20% in Amer­i­ca and Cana­da. Europe throws yet anoth­er curve­ball with 5 – 10% being the norm – though the Scan­di­na­vians won’t expect any­thing. For an impres­sive­ly detailed overview, we like this round-up from Lone­ly Plan­et.

One thing that we can all agree on, is that poor pool­side and beach man­ners are deeply annoy­ing. Diane Gotts­man, a lead­ing Eti­quette Expert, has pro­duced this use­ful list of reminders, includ­ing point­ers such as step­ping away from oth­er sun­bathers when shak­ing out your beach tow­el, and being mind­ful of includ­ing oth­er peo­ple in your pho­tos when post­ing them on social media. In fact, her point­ers on how to be a good house­guest is some­thing that every home swap­per will enjoy.

It goes with­out say­ing that the list of what not to do in oth­er coun­tries is end­less. What is accept­able in one coun­try, can be offen­sive in anoth­er. But the Love Home Swap com­mu­ni­ty can all agree that good man­ners are expect­ed when exchang­ing homes. The val­ues that under­pin the home swap­ping expe­ri­ence set our mem­bers apart, mak­ing for a tru­ly fan­tas­tic com­mu­ni­ty of like­mind­ed peo­ple. If you do acci­den­tal­ly offend some­one when in anoth­er coun­try, a smile and an apol­o­gy will go a long way. And if our mem­bers ever need our help in clear­ing up a sim­ple mis­un­der­stand­ing, then our friend­ly Cus­tomer Ser­vice team are always on hand to help.