Etiquette whilst you travel

Etiquette whilst you travel

Etiquette is different in every country, and we never really discuss it? We thought it would be interesting to do some research into the etiquette whilst you travel, so on your next travels you know!

Please and thank you for the British is a given… from an early age it is instilled in us to be polite. We are also taught that slurping your soup is ill-mannered, and you should always clear your plate… but hang on!!

In Japan and China, slurping your food is one of the highest forms of praise and if you clear your plate in the Philippines or North Africa, your host will give you more! So, whilst you may not be fluent in the language of the country you’re visiting, being culturally fluent will allow you to connect to the locals and express your thanks and appreciation without words.

Given that our borders are slowly, but cautiously opening, learning about etiquette whilst you travel (including what to tip) may be of use to you on your next trip!

Whether eating at home with friends or out at a restaurant, here’s a few tips to make sure you impress your host(ess), whilst showing your appreciation for their hospitality.


  • Be on time
  • Do not start eating until your host says ‘Guten Appetit’
  • Normally the person inviting you out to eat, pays for the bill.
  • Tips – 5% for good service


  • Leaving food on your plate is wasteful
  • Your host will seat you at the table, and normally it won’t be with your significant other
  • Praising a meal is the sincerest of compliments
  • Tips – don’t tip at a restaurant


  • If bringing flowers, make sure they’re not yellow
  • Eating seconds shows appreciation for the meal – so small portions!
  • Empty glasses will always be re-filled. If you don’t want a top up, leave a mouthful in the glass
  • Tips – 10% as a standard


  • Wait to be seated
  • Refusing seconds is seen as polite, however if the host is insisting, then start tucking in!
  • Leaving a small amount of food on your plate shows you have finished eating
  • Tips – 10% as a standard


  • Wait until the host toasts ‘Skol’ before eating
  • Finish everything on your plate
  • Dinners are long affairs – so prepare to continue talking for an hour after the meal finishes
  • Tips – don’t tip at a restaurant


  • Compliment the meal
  • Don’t start eating until your host says ‘head itsu’
  • Keep your elbows off the table
  • Tips – 10% for great service (optional)


  • The meal begins when the host says ‘bon appetit’
  • When eating cheese, do not cut off the point
  • Bread is an accompaniment to the meal, not an appetiser
  • Tips – 10% for good service


  • Don’t wait to be seated at a restaurant, choose your own seat
  • Bread rolls should be broken apart by hand
  • Commons toasts are ‘Zum Wohl’ with wine and ‘Prost’ with beer
  • Tips – optional but it’s customary to either round up the bill or add 10%. Give tips to the waiter, rather than leaving them on the table


  • Don’t start eating until the host(ess) starts
  • It’s polite to soak up your gravy with bread
  • Meals are a time for socialising – so there will be plenty of food, wine and discussion
  • Tips – between 10% – 15%


  • The host(ess) will wish a hearty appetite to the guests at every course during the meal
  • Hospitality is measured on the amount and variety of food offered
  • Don’t clink beer glasses… this has been shunned for over 150 years (since 1848 and the Hungarian Revolution)
  • Tips – between 10% – 15%


  • Don’t make slurping noises when eating your food (spaghetti being the biggest culprit)
  • Don’t ask for cheese on your meal unless it’s offered
  • Using bread to clean your plate shows you’ve enjoyed your meal
  • Tips – service charge is normally included on the bill, but you can leave 5% -10% extra if the service was exceptional


  • Leaving the table during a meal is rude
  • Keep to smaller portions as second helpings are normally offered and it’s polite to accept
  • When it comes to paying the bill… ‘Go Dutch’
  • Tips – between 5% – 10%


  • The host(ess) will invite you to start eating
  • Toasts are normally made using straight vodka
  • If taking flowers, ensure there is an odd number of flower stems and no chrysanthemums (it’s a funeral flower)
  • Tips – between 10% – 15% for good service


  • For a formal dinner, you have a 15-minute leeway on the arrival time, and with parties or larger gatherings, up to an hour
  • Don’t ask for salt and pepper if they’re not on the table – it’s an insult to the chef
  • Whilst eating, your napkin is kept to the left of the plate. When you have finished, move it to the right to show you have finished your meal
  • Tips – not normal practice, but you can add 10% for good service


  • Dinner tends to be eaten late
  • Never dip bread in your soup, it’s considered rude
  • Don’t waste food, it’s better to decline food than leave it on your plate
  • Tips – Round up the bill (approx. 10%)


  • Keep your hands visible throughout the meal, but no elbows on the table
  • Butter knives are provided… don’t use a dinner knife
  • Don’t take a drink until your host(ess) has given a toast
  • Tips – 5% – 10%


  • In a restaurant, waving your hand to attract attention is rude
  • Use cutlery at all times, including eating fruit
  • Don’t ask for salt or pepper, you’ll upset the chef
  • Tips – not expected


  • Slurping your soup or talking with food in your mouth is rude
  • Always pass the port to the left
  • If the host(ess) folds their napkin, the meal is over
  • Tips – 10% for good service

There were a couple of points that stuck out. The host(ess) in most countries starts and finishes the meal. They also normally pay for the meal as well if you’re eating out. This seems to be a standard practice for etiquette whilst you travel. 

Then there’s tipping… it can be a bit of an ordeal and can, in some instances, be frowned upon. So, if you’re travelling abroad, it’s always worth researching the standard etiquette practices in different countries. As a general rule of thumb, always have cash with you, both notes and coins and if you’re unsure, 10% at a restaurant seems to be a good average to work to.

Though knowing the different types of etiquette in countries is interesting, if you would prefer to travel the world from the comfort of your own home, we have the perfect blog for you! We all need an escape from the pressures of the pandemic, virtual travel is the perfect way to enjoy the world from your house, find out more in “Travelling virtually from the comfort of your own home”.

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