When traveling abroad, the last thing we Americans want to do is offend the locals. Unfortunately, too many of us think that’s an easy trap to avoid: As long as you are polite, say “please” and “thank you,” don’t tell ethnic jokes about the local population, don’t act rude or all “ugly American”-like, and don’t walk around in an “FBI (Female Body Inspector)" T-shirt, you’ll be okay. Right?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. One downside of international travel is that it is shockingly easy for Americans to accidentally offend locals in a foreign country; some gestures or actions that mean absolutely nothing in the U.S. are considered extremely offensive abroad. If these unintentionally offensive American tourists are lucky, the locals will just seethe quietly or, even better, politely warn them of the offensiveness of their behavior. But at worst, it could lead to a nasty confrontation or, as has occurred in at least one case, a potential international incident.
Don’t let that happen to you. Here are 10 of the most accidentally offensive things Americans do overseas.