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The Faux Pass: Things Not To Do As A Tourist

Date 22 Sep 2015 | Posted by Linda Paul

The Faux Pass

Traveling to another country is pretty exciting; you get to see a new land and a whole new way of living, a different culture and everything that goes with it; food, fashion, architecture and a myriad of other stuff. Exploring different countries and mingling with people of different backgrounds has plenty of advantages, however things can also get pretty awkward if you do something you’re not supposed to. And this happens more often than people would like to admit. Tourists sometimes do not know much about the ways of the land they are visiting and can end up doing something which might be offensive to the local population. Just keep in mind that different cultural customs associated meanings to certain behaviors can cause misunderstandings if you’re not careful. To make things easier for you, here is a list of things not to do as a tourist when you’re visiting these particular countries.


When invited to someone’s home, do not take a very big/extravagant gift. While it’s the norm in most countries and is completely harmless; in Mexico it can be seen as a bribe. While you may think it’s strange but just go with it and avoid it. Bring smaller gifts if you want like chocolates, desserts or flowers. However when bringing flowers do not marigolds and red flowers as they symbolize death, and can be mistaken for witchcraft.


Generally Canadians do not use a lot of hand gestures while speaking; so refrain from using any kind of hand gestures, particularly bad ones like a thumbs down. It may be seen as offensive as it is a disapproving hand gesture (we know what you’re thinking, and yes, it’s best to avoid that as well – and that doesn’t just go for when you’re in Canada).

United Kingdom

things not to do as a tourist
While the people of the UK might love peace, they are not particularly fond of the peace sign. So do not flash the peace sign to anyone you do not know; it might be taken as rude since it’s considered a reversed middle finger in the UK. Avoid hand gestures on the whole and yes do not try to imitate a British accent under any circumstances.

Dominican Republic

When you’re talking with anyone try not to lose eye contact. This is seen as losing interest in the conversation and people there take it as a slight. Be mindful and try to keep eye contact during conversations.


While eating, do not cut the salad of your lettuce with a fork and knife. This is seen as insulting to the chef as it suggest that the salad was not prepared correctly. Just fold the lettuce with your fork and then put it in your mouth.


tourist in Italy
Most Italians are reserved and do not like a stranger making too much small talk with them – they can often perceive it as threatening. Keep greetings short, for example you can say ‘buongiorno’ which means good morning or ‘buona sera’ (good evening).

Some of these things not to do as a tourist might seem outright strange to you but hey, like they say when in Rome, Do as Rome does.

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