Let’s be honest. Nobody takes the time to research things you shouldn’t do abroad anymore. That could be for various reasons:
- It doesn’t cross your mind;
- You think “not breaking the law” should be enough;
- Basic disinterest;
It’s good that you took the time to research this as well. Most of the time people are just excited to travel.
You may find a few of these “things you shouldn’t do abroad” lists online. Probably with some pretty graphics and humorous gifs attached as well.
But do you know what the problem is with those guides? They always contain only one item about a few specific countries. No universal rules for anything.
Now, that may be useful to those who just want to visit one of those 10 to 20 countries in these lists. Ardent travelers who want to be prepared for any situation may feel left out, on the other hand.
We want to help the latter out. So without further ado, let’s dive right into the list of what you should stop doing.
#1 Talk to Locals Directly in English
Although English might be a pretty common language nowadays, don’t assume everyone speaks it just because you do.
Most locals will try to avoid English-speaking tourists, especially if they don’t know the language.
The Solution: Take the time to learn a few useful phrases before heading on your journey. Of course, you don’t need to take up an entire course on the language.
Just learn how to manage at a bar or restaurant. Asking for directions to a landmark, bathroom, or a first aid point would also come in handy.
#2 Take Pictures of Locals without Their Permission
This does not apply only to countries where it might be forbidden by religious practice or other motives.
No, you might find that even in places like the U.K., taking photographs without some sort of permit could get the police to ask questions. Yes, one of the things you shouldn’t do abroad is getting arrested.
The Solution: Now, you don’t need to frantically worry about getting arrested for taking a few innocent shots of the scenery. Just be respectful.
Maybe learn how to ask the locals to take a photo with you in their native tongue. People are friendlier than you would believe when they see you making an effort.
You will find that locals in a few countries (such as Pakistan, for example) will love having their photos taken.
#3 Talk Politics
You may think you want to know about the politics of a country while on your holiday. Curiosity never killed anyone but the cat, right?
There may be a lot of things you shouldn’t do abroad, but the last thing you want is to ruin your day with a politically charged argument with the locals.
We won’t get into specifics. You’re probably getting your fair share of politics from TV, social media, and other places. No need to extend that to your time of relaxation, after all.
The Solution: If you still want to have a chat with the locals, try instead to talk about the culture of the country or region.
The friendliest ones will surely have some interesting stories to tell about the folklore.
#4 Show Public Displays of Affection (PDA)
Many countries (such as France or the U.S.A.) do not have a problem with this. But many others tend to frown upon PDA.
In Japan, for example – while it’s okay to hold hands or link arms – kissing in public is still taboo. The same goes for Indonesia.
One extreme example of this rule is India. You can be fined, imprisoned for up to three months, or both.
The Solution: Be mindful of local traditions. A quick Google search of whether PDA is acceptable at the destination of choice will save you a ton of trouble.
If you choose to go with a travel agency, the agents would be more than happy to bring you up to speed with whatever you need to know.
#5 Wear Revealing Clothing in Religiously Conservative Countries
When it comes to things you shouldn’t do abroad, this should be your top concern (along with the last point of this list).
We know the weather in certain countries is more suited for comfy clothing. Anybody would enjoy walking in the sun in just shorts and a T-shirt.
But unless you are at the beach or in tourist areas, you might run into some trouble in certain countries. This is especially true of the Middle East.
Wearing “trendy” clothing around holy sites is also generally a no-no, even outright forbidden by law.
The Solution: Ask your travel agent for relevant information about your destination. Otherwise, you can always find great advice on TripAdvisor and similar travel forums.
#6 (Unintentionally) Disrespect the Culture
Some countries have radically different mindsets. This is why it’s better to come prepared for the culture shock.
We know you wouldn’t intentionally disrespect somebody’s culture. Unfortunately, we are only human, so accidents will happen.
Unless you take the time to study the culture inside-out for months before the trip, you’re bound to slip in one way or another.
The Solution: Locals don’t expect a foreigner to understand everything about their culture. A simple solution is to learn a phrase for a respectful apology.
In case you’ve done something inappropriate that to you seems normal – you have a safety net.
Any Other Things You Shouldn’t Do Abroad?
Just as a bonus, we will give you this tip: backpacks are more practical than suitcases. On the other hand, you should always bring a spare bag (i.e. that is not a backpack).
It’s useful for traveling around the city and not identifying yourself as a tourist to potential pickpockets. We couldn’t stress the importance of blending in with the locals.
Some even recommend the following instead of just bringing clothes along:
- Studying what the locals wear;
- Visiting a local clothing shop;
- Buying clothes to fit in;
It’s the best way to make some more room for other luggage, while also getting some useful souvenirs.
Ultimately, you could probably fill an entire book with all sorts of things you shouldn’t do abroad. These six items should serve only as a starting point for your research.