Written by:
Jul 13, 2023

Cultural Dos and Don’ts for Travelers

Help yourself to some travel tips courtesy of the Drops team! These aren’t your usual dos and don’ts that you find on the internet. Each tip comes from a Drops team member that has lived in the respective country or is originally from there. Yes, a lot of these tips are about food. What can we say, we’re a food-loving bunch!

Dig into the travel and food topics in the Drops app to achieve your summer 2023 language goals.



DO try Franzbrötchen when in Northern Germany

This cinnamon pastry is a staple of the North, and you won’t find it anywhere else! In Hamburg, enjoy a fresh Franzbrötchen with coffee at Kaffee Kuchen zeit (the time in which Germans enjoy a coffee and a sweet treat, usually circa 5pm).

DO watch for bikes

City bikers are aggressive around the world, but many German cities have the bike path incorporated into the sidewalk, making it easy for tourists to accidentally step in the way of speedy bikers.

Learn how to stay safe during your travels with the Drops Stay Safe topic in the language app.


DON’T cross at a red light (unless you’re in Berlin)

Berliners are too cool for rules. Everywhere else in Germany, you run the risk of getting yelled at for crossing at a red light and being a bad example to the children (it has happened to me twice, and to several of my American friends in Germany).

DON’T be surprised if people think you’re weird for wanting to pet their dog

Most Germans just don’t show as much excitement as other cultures do around dogs. While Americans expect that a walk with their golden retriever puppy will be like stepping outside with an A-list celebrity, Germans seem surprised and even confused when you ask to pet their dog. Still, it never hurts to ask!

Just say: Darf ich den Hund streicheln?



DO finish your pasta sauce with bread

It’s called “fare la scarpetta”. Leaving sauce on the plate can be a gross insult. Instead, soak up every last bit with some bread and have no regrets.  

DO enjoy dessert for breakfast

Italian breakfast features a pastries and all things sweet. Italians usually take a small biscuit, pastry, or baked good with their coffee and orange juice, starting off their day with a burst of sugar-infused energy.


DON’T order a latte and expect coffee

Latte is milk in Italian. What you’re looking for is a Caffè macchiato.

DON’T order pasta Alfredo

This is not an Italian recipe! if a restaurant has Alfredo on it’s menu, then it’s not very authentic and is trying to cater to American tourists that don’t know better.



DO say bonjour when entering a shop or small restaurant

When you look at the shop owner and say bonjour as soon as you enter, you’re more likely to get on their good side.

DO ask for a tradition instead of the baguette

Most French people order a “une tradition” at the bakery. A tradition has to be made using only flour, yeast, salt, and water while a baguette can have several added ingredients.


DON’T order a crêpe if you wan’t something savory

Crêpes are made with wheat flour and served with a sweet filling, while galettes are made with buckwheat flour and served as a main (usually savory) meal.

DON’T say “tu” to people you don’t know

Use the formal vous when speaking to strangers, even if that person is your age or younger.



DO acknowledge regional differences (never refer to regional languages as “dialects”).

There are many languages within Spain besides Castilian Spanish including Catalan, Valencian, Galician, and Basque. People are very proud of their region, and do not appreciate when you call their language a dialect.

DO expect to have a late dinner

By the time people in the Northern Hemisphere are falling asleep on the couch to Netflix, Spanish restaurants are in full swing. Don’t be surprised to see young kids running around the restaurant well past midnight, and don’t expect to be able to easily find a dinner place that’s ready to serve you before 9pm.


DON’T order Sangria

If you want to experience what the locals drink, try Tinto de Verano instead, a refreshing mixture of red wine and soda water.

Learn how to order in Castilian Spanish with the Drops Restaurant topic.

DON’T say “estoy caliente”, the direct translation of “I’m hot”

This means something much more risque in Spanish. Instead say, “tengo calor”.

Get the words you need to ask about temperature and the weather in the Drops language app.



DO check out Japanese convenience stores

Japanese convenience stores are not like their Western counterparts. They have their own specific brand products, and a varied selection of sweets and treats.

DO embrace the special toilets

You might have heard that Japanese toilets have all kinds of features, including seat warmers, jet washers, and even a glow in the dark function. Keep an open mind and let yourself experiment with the different settings and embrace the luxury of the high-tech toilet.


DON’T talk or eat on the train

Save the snacking for later! And if you have to talk, make sure you whisper.

DON’T blow your nose loudly in person

Hopefully you’re not traveling during allergy season! Even so, it’s better to dab daintily than loudly clear your nostrils when visiting Japan.



DO use two hands to give and receive things

For example, if a waiter or host brings you a drink make sure you accept it with two hands.

DO turn away to take a sip of your drink when facing elders

It’s customary to turn away from the table to take a drink when you are sharing the table with those older than you.  


DON’T put chopsticks in rice

Korean etiquette asks that your rice bowl not leave the table while you’re eating. This is why they tend to eat their rice and soup with a spoon instead of chopsticks.

DON’T hug people

In Korea, hugging is usually reserved for close friends, family saying farewell, and couples.

The beauty of travel and language learning is learning all about new cultures and their customs.

Elissa Gonzalez is a Venezuelan American Writer currently based in Germany. She’s also lived in (and committed language faux pas in) Madrid, Paris, and Montpellier, and is happy to show you how Drops can help make you a travel genius this summer.

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