I think we can all agree that no matter how seasoned a traveler you are, there will just be some customs and traditions in other countries that trip you up. So when redditor u/Oatmeal2348 asked the r/travel community, "What is a custom that you can't get used to, no matter how often you visit a country?" people had a lot of thoughts about the little quirks they just can't seem to adjust to when they visit other places. Here are a few of them:
1."Portuguese waiters disappearing after serving you the desserts! A guidebook told me that dessert is seen as the best part of the meal — therefore they give you plenty of time to enjoy it. But I want to pay and move on! On the other hand, in the US, they bring you the check when you haven’t even swallowed the last bite. I don’t like that, either — find some middle ground!"
2."I learned in Italy that if you see a shop you want to visit and it’s open, go in right then and there, because they’re bound to close with no notice at any time during the day without explanation. I don’t think I could ever get used to unpredictable business hours."
3."Paying to use public restrooms in Europe."
4."Working in Japan temporarily. Yeah, we'll be here ready to go at 8 a.m. OK, it's 8 p.m., time to call it a day. But first, the boss and the big boss want to take us out to dinner. Now we have to go with them to the bar for drinks and karaoke. OK, it's 1 a.m., boss and big boss have left. See you in the morning at 7:30."
"You arrive before the boss, and you DO NOT leave until they’ve left. You also do not say, 'No,' 'I don’t understand,' or 'I’ll pass, thanks' to anything. It’s a huge cultural consideration that there’s absolutely no use asking, 'Does that make sense?' or 'Does anyone have any questions?' as they’ll never admit it."
5."The unhinged tipping culture in the US. I just want to go to a restaurant without feeling as if I'm either an ungrateful Scrooge or ripping myself off. I understand that staffing is an expense, but just factor it into the price!"
6."I’m Filipino. Brought my Canadian husband home. He had a hard time adjusting his appetite because we eat five times a day."
7."How American public restroom stalls have that gap between the door and frame wide enough for you to make eye contact with anyone walking outside the stall."
8."Haggling. Just give me a price, already!"
"Zanzibar is a gorgeous and interesting place, but constantly being bothered by merchants got old very fast. People would charge me like $36 for cheap slippers or $50 for swimming pants. Yeah, you will negotiate it down to less than half, but it is still a huge rip-off. One guy asked us for money because we looked in the direction of a huge crab he had on a string. I don't mind haggling, it exists in my culture as well, but not to that degree."
9."I've been to Spain twice and can't get my head around everything happening three to five hours later than I'm used to. Breakfast at midday, dinner at 11 p.m., and out for drinks until 4 a.m."
10."Lack of air conditioning in Europe and no screens on the windows. I was staying in Italy at a Marriott property, and the hotel room was sweltering in December. I opened the window and the room was immediately flooded with mosquitoes."
11."Scotland was absolutely beautiful, but we soon found we had to plan our itinerary around when shops and restaurants would be open. It's lovely to see that businesses are family-oriented and close at 5 p.m. on weekdays in the summer, but this limited our evening meal options. As a result, we ended up dining at an upscale Italian restaurant in Glasgow and a pub at closing time in a small village, until we learned to eat and grocery shop much, much earlier."
12."The lack of public trash cans in Japan. I realize it's a Japanese custom to take your trash with you and dispose of it at your own home, but having trash cans at least in heavy tourist areas would be appreciated!"
13."Tipping and taxes not being included on the price tag."
14."I understand mine is extremely American, but I really like ice in my drinks. Having room temperature water/barely cold drinks is sad."
15."The lack of free/refillable water in European restaurants. I went to Italy and Switzerland, and it was so frustrating how regular water wasn't free and refillable! I pretty much only drink water, and with being outside all day, I can drink a lot of it. But I hated how in restaurants, we had to pay for the water and it wasn't even that much — only 0.5–0.75 liters for two people. I don't get why regular water can't be included in the service charge that Italian restaurants have."
16."In general, the notion that turning down food is rude. I appreciate that someone cooked a meal for me, but forcing me to choke down something I don’t like is ruder than me simply saying, 'No, thank you.'"
"My husband’s Hungarian great-aunt thought there was something wrong with me when I didn’t finish my meal and eat dessert. I was just too full. She took offense to that."
17."The lack of bidets in the US, and, yes, I'm American. We need to embrace the bidet here. It's cleaner, more hygienic, and your ass takes 90% less abuse than with toilet paper. We Americans get accused of being too clean and obsessed with cleanliness, so why haven't we taken the logical next step in a very key area of hygiene?"
18."Wearing shoes inside the house."
"I moved to Argentina a few years ago, and this is the one thing I just can't deal with. Makes everything dirty, and I need to constantly clean. Why is it so difficult to just take them off at the door?"
19."South America, where everyone kisses you on the cheek! I got kissed by 100 people I didn’t know just for dating their nephew/cousin/son/grandson. The kissing is something I’ve tried to get used to, but I have no clue how to kiss back, so I just smile while they give me cheek-to-cheek kisses."
20."Restaurants and cafés where you seat yourself. This tripped me up so much when I was in Vienna because I would stand by the entrance as a dumb American waiting to be seated, and it dawned on me by the second or third day that the custom was to seat yourself."
21."I'm an American who's been living in Germany for a decade, and I still can’t get used to Sunday store closures."
Are there any customs in other countries you have trouble getting used to? Let us know in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.