International Travel Etiquette 101

Going overseas for the first time? There are certain customs to keep in mind when traveling internationally.

Every country is different when it comes to etiquette. One place might have a lax view on punctuality, while others consider it rude if you’re more than a minute late. Likewise, how you greet strangers or how you tip says a lot about your respectfulness. Here are some important travel etiquette tips to remember around the world!


  • Canadians are quite punctual. Make a point to arrive on time if you’re making plans with any locals or groups.
  • French Canadians may partake in the French custom of greeting with cheek kisses. Otherwise, hellos and goodbyes are handshakes.
  • Canadians tip much like Americans, at roughly 15-20% of the bill. This includes situations with waiters, cab drivers, and spa specialists.


  • Travel etiquette do’s and don’ts in Mexico tend to revolve around respect and kindness. Mexicans don’t tend to complain, so doing so may make you look rude or abrasive. Have a positive outlook while traveling.
  • Mexicans aren’t as concerned with punctuality as other countries. Don’t worry too much if events or people are running late.
  • Mexicans are extremely polite, especially when greeting new people. Aim for words like the formal “usted” rather than the informal “tu” when addressing strangers in Spanish.


  • Germans on big on handshaking for hellos and goodbyes, and it’s crucial to shake hands with everyone in a group if you’re joining in.
  • Germans are extremely punctuational, and it’s seen as rude if you’re even a few minutes late.
  • Germans have a more open attitude toward public nudity. It’s not uncommon to see nudity in public pools, parks, or on TV.


  • Bowing when you meet someone is a form of respect. Occasionally, you’ll have someone who’ll want to shake your hand, but wait for them to initiate.
  • When you enter a space, look to see if there are shoes near the doorway. It’s considered a sign of respect to take off your shoes in homes, temples, and certain historic sites. Taking off your shoes in Asia is pretty common for international travel etiquette.
  • Chopstick use is popular here, but don’t leave them standing up in a bowl of food, which is reminiscent of death rituals.


  • They drive cars on the left side of the road and foot traffic works the same way. Walk on the left side of the sidewalk and stand to the left on escalators.
  • Don’t say “G’Day” or “mate” a lot, as this is seen as stereotypical and patronizing coming from an American.
  • Australians prefer a lot of personal space. Don’t stand too close and leave empty seats between you and strangers on public transportation.


  • Thai culture considers feet the dirtiest part of the body and the head the most sacred. Due to this, it’s bad travel etiquette to use your feet to point to something and don’t touch anyone’s head or hair.
  • Don’t lose your temper. Strong emotions are seen as distasteful in Thai culture.
  • Avoid displays of public affection, even if you’re with your spouse.

Travel etiquette is crucial when you’re traveling internationally. You want to show respect to the country and the locals. From taking off your shoes to giving people space, the little things matter. Keep an open mind and always remember to stay respectful as you enjoy your adventures!

Top International Vacation Packages

Canada vacation packages
Germany vacation packages
Mexico vacations
Japan vacations
Australia vacations
Thailand vacation packages

Header image via Leeyakorn06/Shutterstock

Prev Vacations That Are Better Than Any Present You’ll Receive This Year
Next 12 Top Places to Commemorate Veterans Day