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Etiquette / Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Dining Etiquette Abroad

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Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, one of the fastest ways to offend your host is to make a mistake at the dinner table.

Dining etiquette isn’t so much about knowing which fork to use.

In some countries, there are some more basic rules that most Americans don’t even know about.

Refusing food is one of the most common errors that people make.

If you have dietary restrictions, try to alert your host ahead of time.

In countries like Korea and Japan, it’s rude to pour your own drink. Instead, you should pour for your companion, and they’ll do the same for you.

And while chopstick etiquette varies between countries, never leave them sticking straight up in your rice. That’s a sign of an offering to the dead.

In Portugal, if there isn’t salt and pepper on the table, don’t ask for it.

That implies that the cook didn’t season the food properly.

If in doubt, follow your host’s lead or … ask! It’s much better to show that you’re interested in learning than making a faux pas at the table.

Get more tips in our Travel Etiquette section.

And check out the rest of our Daily Travel Tips here.

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