Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We reached out to our fellow nomads to find out the worst mistakes they’ve made on the road – that way, you can learn from their mishaps.
"While traveling long-distance on a train in Germany, years ago, I was sniffling – as a habit and I was without tissues. The passenger across the aisle shoved me a pack of tissues. It was weeks later I was told sniffling was a no-no – cue awkwardness, because I told the story as a funny anecdote." – Yvonne Tang-Hauk, via Facebook
"In Myanmar, I was offered a pillow while sitting on a concrete floor. I sat on it, when apparently I was only supposed to lean my back against. Turns out, putting my rear-end where someone would put their head to sleep was a massive no-no." – Catherine Pitt, via Facebook
“I sat next to a monk on a bus in northern Thailand. A no-no it turns out. Leaving tips in Japan – very insulting, apparently. Sitting on a train in Tokyo with legs crossed, such that the bottom of the shoe faces up – boy, did I get the stink eye." – Christina Tunnah, World Nomads
"We had a challenge when we tried to get a sticker to allow us to drive in Munich – we were in a borrowed car, and had to order the sticker, and then have it mailed to Croatia. Not sure if this is still the case, but it’s a good idea to check the latest rules and regulations in case what you heard by word-of-mouth is out of date." – Elen Turner, World Nomads
"As a photographer, my philosophy has always been shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later. But that’s actually really rude in places like temples, or where some cultures believe that taking their picture means you’re stealing their spirit, so be careful.
I’ll never forget a Chinese local yelling “HEY! DELETE THAT PICTURE!” in my face while I thought I was being an arty, street-photographer in Qing Dao, China. As I traveled more, I learned that sensitivity is the key. " – Martin Hong, World Nomads
"I remember taking a photograph of local women in a remote and very traditional village in Turkey without asking first. They were horrified and covered their faces. Always ask first. It’s a great way to connect with locals while you’re at it." – Emily Willis, World Nomads
"When visiting any temples in Asia, make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. If you're sitting in front of a Buddha, your feet must not face the Buddha!" – Jess Grey, World Nomads
"I’ve no doubt committed many faux pas, but the most recent one happened in India. I was at a Jain temple in Rajasthan and was wearing what I thought was a modest outfit – skirt below the knee, shirt with cap sleeves. But our guide felt it wasn’t enough, so he borrowed a long, sack-like dress from the ticket office – they have them on hand for this very purpose.
In hindsight, a full-length skirt or long pants, and long or ¾ sleeves would have been a wiser choice or, better still, the traditional Indian sari." – Elen Hall, World Nomads
"I’ve accidentally flushed toilet paper in a few places where the toilets aren’t built to handle it. I didn’t cause any actual plumbing problems – that I know of – but, I didn’t stick around long enough to find out!" – Mark Seldon, World Nomads Group
"Not so much a faux pas, more of a learning curve. When I went to Bali a while back we visited the Bali Zoo. We walked through all the enclosures – including the tiger cave. As I walked toward the sedated tiger (after paying a few Indonesian rupees to get through), it dawned on me that I‘d literally just funded another few hours of sedatives for that poor animal.
"A few years later, I went to Chiang Mai. We'd heard so many good things about the Elephant sanctuary – until we went there to see it for ourselves. We witnessed the mahout (elephant trainer) beating the elephant's head with a sharp stick, while we sat – mortified – in the wooden box on its back.
"I'm a huge believer that none of us seek these un-ethical experiences on purpose – but unfortunately, for as long as we continue to fund these attractions, they'll stick around. Safe to say, any animal tourism is totally off my radar." – Milly McGrath, World Nomads
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