9 Things Americans Should Never, Ever Do While Traveling In These Foreign Locales

It's a good way to get yourself imprisoned or deported.

Each country is unique in its own distinct way, and that's part of what makes us stand out from one another. (The United States, for example, has giant toilet bowls and an abundance of food-related conversations.) 

But social norms are also a huge part of a culture, and some things that are perfectly acceptable in one place might be offensive in another. The discussion on this Reddit thread tried to get to the bottom of it with the question: "What's extremely offensive in your country, that tourists might not know beforehand?"

Its answers are revealing.

1. England

"Don't try to antoganize the Queens guards, they're not decoration they're serving soldiers. Have a good gawp but leave them be." — shufflebottom

No kidding, guys.

2. Northern Ireland

"Asking people what church they go to or what religion they are in Northern Ireland is pretty much a no go." — mattshill

The user later explained: "People below seem confused so I figured I'd clarify. Sometimes tourists want to know which side you fall on and ask you opinions about the troubles, political violence and sectarianism, this is can be awkward to answer and is generally not well received."

3. Costa Rica:

"Do not, I repeat, DO NOT slam on people's car doors. Specially taxis. Try to be gentle when getting in and out. I wouldn't call it EXTREMELY offensive but people will definitely give you the stink eye for that. Some rude taxi drivers could even give you a bad time." — david_creek

Apparently, cab drivers sometimes take care to tell foreigners not to slam the door when they exit their cars.

4. Thailand

"Don't touch people on their heads, it is the highest point of the body so therefore it's the most respectful part. Also never point your feet at a Buddha statue, it's considered very rude.

"Also, if you step on money, you'll be thrown in jail, it has the king's face on it and disrespecting him in anyway (like stepping on his image or saying you hate him) will get you a one-way ticket to a not very nice prison." — KakkateKoi

The Thai king is a revered figure in the country, and foreigners have been thrown in jail for defacing his image. 

5. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures in general:

"My family is middle eastern, but I see this as a on trait in Mediterranean people in general as well.

"Eat the food we offer you. All of it. Eat the seconds the matriarch of the house is putting on your plate. Eat the fruit they give you, drink the tea, eat more. Eat it all.

"If you refuse more food, the matriarch will assume you are lying and either hate the food, or lying because you're shy. And if you annoy the matriarch of the household, everyone In the family is obligated to take her side, even if they don't really give a shit.

"So if you are ever visiting an Arab (or Italian, or Greek) family, be as hungry as possible." — ShahataJoe

6. Romania

"Do not give someone an even number of flowers. That's reserved for funerals." — moderatelyremarkable

By many accounts, this applies to Russia, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, and surely more countries, too.

7. Sweden

"Swedes have a HUGE sphere of personal space. If you're American, and you're talking to me, you are standing WAY too close to me. Shields up." — GryphonGuitar

This is generally true for many Northern European countries.

8. Brazil

"The 'OK' thing americans do with their hands means 'fuck you' [or] 'Shove it up your ass'. So don't do it." — Ich_Liegen

Richard Nixon, while vice president, made that mistake.

9. Japan

"Don't be so damn loud in Japan. Japanese people are fairly quiet and talk in a low-tone. When Americans go to visit and you start talking loudly on a phone or even next to the person in your Italian accent, it's extremely rude.

"Source: Am full Italian, lived abroad in Japan- I was this person." — Teqnologist

Cover image via Shanti Hesse / Shutterstock.com