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Many Gestures Lost In Translation Abroad

Winking and snapping fingers in public may be more than an innocent gesture; it may be offensive to someone from another country. When traveling abroad, small movements and signals that Americans take for granted may be against cultural norms in other countries.

Some examples that were recently published by Britain's national tourism agency:

  • Winking at someone from Hong Kong and China could be considered rude
  • Belgians consider finger snapping impolite
  • Brazilians don’t appreciate being asked personal questions
  • Argentinians joke openly about a person’s clothing or appearance
  • The Japanese may mean something other than happiness with a smile
  • Indians don’t welcome being touched by strangers

When taking advantage of a travel deal, brush up on local norms before heading out. Many vacation packagers include a tips section on their sites. For example, Gate 1 Travel includes “code of conduct” information for every package it offers. For a $1499 10-Night Egypt Package, it offers this information:

Shaking hands is a standard form of greeting. Women should dress modestly, especially in non-tourist and rural areas, where traditional mores are more strictly followed. Beachwear should be confined to the beach and poolside. Public display of affection is sometimes regarded as discourteous. Smoking is very common.

For more deals and travel tips, check out additional Gate 1 Travel offerings.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Las Vegas
Monday, September 13, 2010
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Ben Jennings