Welcome to America!
The Americans are generally cheerful, happy and informal, but also pround and ambitious. Although the United States is considered as an extremely open and free country with more than 80% of Americans are immigrants of European descendants and the 50% of the population is nominally Christian and Catholic. The United States is a multi-ethnic country with some rules and taboos which need to be noticed and complied with. There are many taboo topics in America that are not normally discussed. For example, a bride who is noticeably pregnant on her wedding day was historically considered a taboo topic that was quietly whispered about but not officially acknowledged. The following America travel tips of dos and donts may help you to avoid embarrassment and troubles when traveling to America and maximise the enjoyment of your trip.
America Travel Taboo
Extending the middle finger outwards is considered to be highly offensive.
- Do not call black people “Negro”. They will feel contempt for his indemnity, as Negro mainly refers to Africa black slaves sold to the United States.
- Do not ask personal income, assets etc private information. Do not ask women marital status, age, and price of clothe etc private matter.
- Do not give white lilies as gifts. Do not give presents with the company logo, as it’s obliged for advertising.
- Do not casually take off your shoes or bare feet in front of others, which give people the impression of barbaric debauchery, as only in the bedroom, or between lover to take off their shoes. So do not take off your shoes when visit an American house.
- Do not pull garters or socks in front of others, which are considered impolite. If laces loose, find a quiet place to tie up.
- Do not stick out the tongue to others, which is considered as rude, vulgar, obscene behavior.
- Do not smoke in front of the others without consent.
- Do not use or ask for toothpicks at a restaurant or at a guest home. Americans love their pretty teeth, they usually use dental floss, but rarely use the toothpick.
- Do not be gaudy or do make up in public, which is thought to be bad nurture.
- Do not start to eat until the hostess starts or ask to start a meal. Do not make chewing sound when dinning. Do not take food for others. Do not smoke at the dinning table. Do not persuade others to drink. Do not strip at the dinner table.
- Do not hitch. Hitchhiking and being snatched money are common in the United States. Do not take the subway at night, where gathers drug addicts, gangsters and drug dealers.
- Do not forget to greet children. Americans treat children equal to adults.
- Do not drink alone if you are a woman, which may cause harassment of volunteered” man.
- Do say “Hi” or “Hello” when first meet, it’s not necessary for handshake, but do respond appropriately if they shake hands, nodding, or hugging first.
- Do make a tight grip when shaking hands, and have eye contact. Americans consider it as rude and arrogant when shaking hands without looking at each.
- Do make an appointment before visit someone, and do prepare a small gift when visit a friend.
- Do drink modestly and maintain gentle manner at the banquet. Drunk in the American banquet will fall into contempt.
- Do avoid number ‘13’, ‘3’, ‘Friday’ and use the bat for the design of goods, and packaging materials, as they are associated with the bad luck.
- Do mind the conversation topic. Try to avoid some taboo topics, such as polygamy, abortion, pedophilia, incest, race, religion, and suicide.
- Do take off hat, coat and sunglasses indoor
- Do say hello to strangers. Turn your eyes away or pretend not see others is considered disdaining others.
- Do wait in front of the restaurant door for the waiter to lead you to the table.
© 2010 traveltaboo.com
I really appreciate your explanation, about the dos and don’t, you really make me feel at easy cheers.
This is accurate for the most part, but there are a few things that are wrong or can be different between who the visitor is interacting with.
1. What is wrong with giving somebody a white lilly? It’s a flower, so nobody would care, but most people don’t give each other flowers.
2. Most people take off their shoes when they enter someone else’s house, but they should be wearing socks when they do so.
3. You don’t have to bring gifts to an American friend every time you meet them. Most people don’t unless they are bringing food or a present for a party or formal occasion.
4. There numbers and stuff for bad luck isn’t taken too seriously by most people. That has mostly diminished and is rarely thought of. It is only used for Halloween as a joke by parents if ever used.
I agree with the white lily, I have never heard of that, I like to receive any flower although red roses from someone other than your significant other is kinda odd. Should be wearing socks when they take off shoes? I have never even noticed that before. People wear flats or flip flops all the time.
Lilies are given at funerals in America.
1. Some explanation may be necessary for some of this. White lilies used to, and sometimes do, indicate a death and used to be associated with burial (countless cartoons show a corpse holding a white lily.) However, nowadays that is an okay thing to do. Just keep in mind that flowers are for special occasions.
2. You can take off your shoes in the home of a friend or relative, provided you are wearing socks. The reason for not removing shoes, however, does not relate to the bedroom or to sex. It’s simply seen as bad manners and, if your feet stink, rather disgusting to have you track that stink through a house.
3. Gifts are for celebrations and special occasions only. When visiting a friend for no reason other than to see them there is no need to give a gift.
4. Depending on where you go, superstitions and bad luck still apply, but in many places it’s seen as a joke and no longer believed in.
5. You do not need to say hello to every stranger you meet. In many cities it is customary to be lost in your own little world while in a crowd, or even just with people you don’t know.
6. Most relaxed places, and by relaxed I mean not like a formal dinner or ceremony, you can pause to tie your shoes or fix your socks so long as you are not in the middle of conversation. It would be considered rude, unless you are very familiar with a person, to stop and tie your shoes while speaking to them. However, it’s a sign of being unkempt and disheveled to go about with untied lazies.
I hope this helps all the non-Americans who come here.
In response to Ryan’s thoughts, I tend to agree for the most part, but, as always, there are exceptions.
1. As for flowers, lillys are a funeral flower, that is why we don’t often give lillys. But also, Roses are more romantic, so i would not bring those as a gift either. Flowers are not typically given, but if you do want to bring flowers, something like daisies is always a safe bet.
2. As for shoes, it depends on the person. To be safe, just ask the homeowner if they would like for you to remove your shoes. If they do, leave on your socks!
3. When you are invited over to someone’s house that you are just acquitances with. A small gift is exceptable, and will be appreciated. Something like a candle or a small plant or flowers. I am from the South and this is a more acceptable practice here, especially for ladies. My mom and sister like to make sure they take a gift. Maybe not so much elsewhere, but I really can’t speak to that.
4. I agree with him on 4. This supersitions are not not taboo.
5. Another thing, it wouldn’t be rude if you did not speak or shake hands with a child. If they are a teenage and are engaged in the conversation then yes, it is appropriate.
5. Another topic for shaking hands. It is acceptable to shake hands with a lady, but not required unless she initiates. Shake hands man to man or lady to lady, but waiting for the lady to extend her hand is considered good manners.
6. I use a toothpick. Men use toothpicks, but try and be discrete. Ladies, I would stay away from using toothpicks in public.
7. Yes. For the love of all that is Holy, chew with your mouth closed!
Gifts are not expected or even that good an idea for a casual visit. The only time that is more common is for a party or some kind of special event, even then it’s usually not expected but will be perceived as a nice gesture.
When you’re visiting someone’s home, as stated by the others, it is considered polite to ask if you should remove your shoes. Most people will make an exception for guests regardless of their own preference however.
Guests are generally treated with extra care. Providing good hospitality is important to most Americans and they will try to make sure everyone is comfortable.
Unless the homeowners are smokers, is it generally considered very rude to smoke in someone’s home.
Highly regional and varies, but many Americans consider superstitions foolish and give them very little attention.
Handshaking and Greetings:
Tt is acceptable to shake anyone’s hand, regardless of gender when meeting them. But for less personal greetings, like a shopkeeper, a smile and a nod is sufficient. Keep eye contact during greetings, otherwise may be interpreted as insincerity. I wouldn’t advise hugging anyone unless they initiate it. That’s typically used when you’re good friends with a person, and even then it’s usually restricted to woman-man or woman-woman.
Talking on a cell phone during a dinner when you are not alone (seated by yourself at a restaurant) is often considered rude and a sign of poor manners. In any pubic setting talking loudly on the phone is often seen as particularly rude.
You will get smiles and sincere thank yous for holding a door open for those coming in ahead of you, or those close behind you provided they are very close and don’t feel pressured to rush up to prevent you from having to hold the door long. It can be considered particularly rude for a man to not hold a door for a lady. Others will likely do this for you, a simple thank you is sufficient.
When bumping into someone, or blocking their path at a store with your cart, Americans may say “Excuse me” but do not take it as asking you to give them passage, but as a polite way of apologizing even if they are not at fault.
I also don’t think that greeting strangers is necessary… If someone makes eye contact with you while you’re walking then just smile or look away. I wouldn’t say that greeting someone who makes eye contact with you is really a rule.
I would also put emphasis on not smoking unless consent is given by everyone in your group. Also, don’t smoke at someone’s house unless you have permission, even if you are doing so outside.
Lets cool it with taking off shoes in someone else’s home. You NEVER take off your shoes unless the host or hostess requests it for reasons having to do with tracking in dirt(!)
Readers: Ignore Steve Laitman’s comment.
I think Shane’s comment is really good. Look at that one instead.