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Global Etiquette for International Travelers

Globe | Travel internationally | FTLO Travel | Group Trips for Young Professionals

Traveling can be an enlightening experience as you engage with new countries, cultures and people. Chances are, you'll quickly realize that western etiquette is very different from the social norms practiced in other regions of the world, many of which that have been in place for upwards of thousands of years. So before you travel to a foreign land, take a dive into some international etiquette and review some customs from different countries around the world.


  • Punctuality is loose and relaxed

  • Don’t expect a quiet dinner; multitasking is normal and the more people invited, the merrier!

  • Smoking is not allowed in many public spaces

  • Italians are very chic (high fashion in Venice and Milan) and always look sharp


  • Think casual professional when deciding your outfit for the day; the Spanish tend to always look sharp, but still comfortable

  • Snack if you must, but lunch doesn't start until about 1:30PM or later

  • Dinner also doesn't start until after 8PM

  • There's a big quiet period around 3PM-5PM, when people leave for long breaks and occasionally rest up before heading back out

  • Nightlife runs in the early morning hours

  • Expect to run into lots of smokers

United Kingdom

  • Avoid asking about one’s health

  • Avoid asking “How are you” unless greeting a close friend

  • Don’t bring up jobs or money related topics, it’s poor form

  • Say yes to tea, but milk comes last!


  • The swiss are formal so be on your absolute best behavior

  • Take off shoes and line them up against a wall

  • Do not be late

  • Firm handshakes and eye contact are a must

  • Bring a gift AND send a thank you note afterward

  • If fondue is being served (often in winter), never lose your bread and NEVER scrape the bottom of the pot


  • Lateness is a huge no-no

  • Dressing up is normal, even in casual situations

  • Expect to take off your shoes

  • At the table, keep hands above and on the table, never let them fall to your lap

  • Always maintain eye contact when saying Prost!


  • Food is pre-selected and regional delicacies are a must-eat (it shows respect to the host)

  • Eat everything that is offered to you, if possible

  • Slurping your soup is a sign of thanking the chef

  • Punctuality is important because it demonstrates respect, though expect others to probably still be a bit late

  • Expect to be asked personal questions, but don't take offense, it's usually a tactic for finding common ground with new friends


  • Shoes must always be taken off before entering a private home, dirt is a sign of disrespect

  • Make sure to bring a gift

  • Bowing is essential, and the youngest person should bow first. The deeper the bow the more respect towards that person.


  • If visiting a traditional home, you may be anoinnted with a talika - a facial marking as a sign of honor

  • Hotel hospitality can take it a step further by offering to wash guests feet on arrival and providing floral garlands as you leave

  • Let elders sit before you always

  • Expect seconds, thirds and fourths of meals

  • Never go empty handed when visiting a home


  • Avoid public displays of affection

  • Limit physical contact with people of the opposite sex

  • Remove your shoes before entering most homes or private spaces

  • Being punctual is very important and demonstrates respect

  • Vietnamese dress relatively conservatively, so keep to this rule, even at the beaches


  • Bigger cities dress more conservatively and professionally

  • Punctuality is not super important, but it shows that you are eager

  • Mexicans are enthusiastic and ceremonial in many cases, so showing enthusiasm and interest can take you a long way

  • Tipping is important, and asking for the check when you're ready is necessary


  • Expect loudness, opinions and animated conversation

  • Colombians are very prideful and excited to talk about their region

  • Locals dress to the nines when going out and men often wear jeans or dress pants (rarely shorts or flip flops)

  • Dinner is hardly on time, so consider a snack beforehand

  • Catholicism is huge


  • Fashionably late is a thing, so much so, it’s actually rude to be on time

  • Intimacy and affectionate behavior are norms in this culture

  • Lean out of a conversation and you’re considered rude

  • Dinners often span hours and can go into the night


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