10 Interesting Things I’ve Discovered About Other Cultures from Traveling


Ian and I quite often sit and laugh about the things we’ve experienced during our almost 14 years together. The funniest memories frequently come from stuff that occurred during our travels, some of which are a little too ridiculous to be discussed on the blog. ;) Being seasoned travelers, most things that others would notice, fly completely over our heads now. Although, occasionally we are caught off guard. The latest example was when a lady smacked another lady during the train ride on our visit to Denmark. All of this reminiscing prompted me to make a short list of 10 Interesting Things I’ve Learned About Other Cultures from Traveling.

  • Most British people will offer you a cup of tea within 5 minutes of entering their home. Black tea seems to be the drink of choice and is commonly served with milk and/or sugar. This also means that owning a kettle is just as common as owning a microwave in the US.

  • Have you ever seen a family, like husband, wife and 2 to 3 kids all fit on a regular sized motorcycle? Me either, until we visited the Dominican Republic. It’s the norm on this beautiful island. This looks like an acrobatic feat, but Dominicans have it down to an art. The Dominican Republic is #3 on my list of favorite travel destinations!

Baby Joshua and Traveling Miya in Dubai

Baby Joshua and Traveling Miya in Dubai

  • Although women are required to cover their hair in most regions of the Middle East, it is not mandatory in all countries. We previously visited Dubai, which is known for being a luxurious and fun city where you can experience things you’ve only ever dreamed of. However, public affection is frowned upon and can legally be punished with imprisonment or deportation. In reality, we saw quite a few couples holding hands, which seemed to be acceptable. PDA may be tolerated, but we didn’t chance it during our visit.

  • In Egypt, is it true that a woman can be traded for camels? When Ian and I visited, he was offered varying amount of camels in exchange for me. I hope this was a joke that they make with foreigners. At least 15 local men made offers! Ian jokingly countered the last guys saying that he would give me up for 50 camels. The guy was outraged! He responded, “Fifty Camels?! No, No, that is way to much, my friend.”

Ian riding a camel in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt.

Ian riding a camel in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt.

  • Tipping culture is only a big deal in the U.S. While tipping exists in other countries, it is only usually done in small amounts or if the service is particularly good. No wonder I used to get the oddest looks when I tipped abroad. I was accustomed to the tipping culture in the US- tips for waiters, bartenders, to go orders, taxis, dog groomers, baristas, and even hairdressers. In the U.S. tipping is presented as if it’s optional, but in reality, waiters and sometimes bartenders and bus boys work for free unless you leave a tip.

  • Funerals are normally thought of as sad, solemn occasions. This is not the case in New Orleans, Louisiana. Funeral processions are commonly accompanied by bands, specifically a brass band. These are joyous and lively occasions that celebrate the life of the deceased. The procession consists of a parade through the streets accompanied by jazz music and dancing.

  • There is no such thing as dessert in Chinese culture, although sweets play a common part in Chinese cuisine. Sweet dishes can be eaten at any point throughout a meal, not only as the last course after savory items. My favorite has to be sweet tofu served with ginger syrup!

  • Continuing with food, people all over the world are familiar with fries. This actually happens to be our son’s favorite food. Fries are served with burgers in the US, fried fish in the UK, and with steak in France. We were even able to order them in every restaurant we visited in Panama. Now the real question is, what condiment do choose to accompany your fries? In the US ketchup is the sauce of choice while most of Europe prefers mayonnaise. Haven’t tried fries with mayo? Give it a go, and you may like it!

  • On our trip to Copenhagen, we noticed that people were so honest and thoughtful. We must have passed by over 1000 bikes during our visit and less than 20% had bike locks on them. The Danish leave their bicycles unlocked leaning against a building for hours, and not a single person touches them. 

  • Amsterdam is worldly famous for its coffeeshops that sell cannabis over the counter. In reality marijuana is not actually legal in The Netherlands. It is tolerated, but you don’t have to worry about trouble unless you’re in possession of large amounts. Prostitution on the other hand, gets a green light. 

Each culture holds its own uniques characteristics and traditions, some of which others outside the culture may find strange. No matter where we’ve traveled in the world, I’ve observed that humans have a few important things in common. They need to feel safe, they love their children and want them to be happy, and they want to feel like they matter.

Be Kind.

Travel Often.

Embrace Differences.