Gestures Around the World
When visiting a new destination, are you sure your hand gestures mean what you want to express?

Travel Etiquette Tips

Picture this: there’s an iconic beautiful castle in front of you. Your travel companion calls you from behind and asks you to turn around. When you look back, he/she is holding a camera and wants to take a picture of you with the castle on the background. When you pose for the camera, are you going to simply smile or will you add a hand gesture? Perhaps a V sign? Well, it could be nice in a certain way. However, there’s a possibility that this “Victory” sign means something completely different according to where you are.

Today we’d like to share with you some hand gestures tips and help you identify the ones that have different meanings depending on each country. If you’re aware of this, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary troubles!

What Does the Victory Sign Mean?

First, let’s focus on the V sign. Indeed, it’s a well-known gesture all around the world. It’s formed by keeping your index and middle fingers straight and apart while holding your other fingers with your thumb. Your palm faces front. In most European countries and in the United States, this gesture means peace and love or victory. However, if you do this in Greece, you should be ready to run away. That’s because, for the Greeks, this gesture means the “F” word! Similarly, if you show the back of your hand while making the victory sign in the UK or Australia, again, you need to get ready and tie your shoelaces. For the locals, it means contempt or obscenity, so as you can imagine, it’s the opposite of peace or victory.

What Does The Thumbs Up Sign Mean?

Let’s move on to the next hand gesture. Here’s the scene: After visiting an iconic site someone asks you how it was. What to do? You could give them a “thumbs up” to express it was great. But wait! Even though in most English speaking countries that’s exactly the meaning it will have, in the Middle East, West Africa and South Africa it’s an expression of contempt. So think again or become a superb sprinter!

What Does The OK Gesture Mean?

Last case for today: A friend invites you out for lunch and you want to say “OK” accepting the invitation. What to do? You might form a circle using your index finger and thumb while keeping the rest of your fingers straight. However, that wouldn’t be the right answer in some countries. For example, in France it means “zero” or “useless”. And in Turkey, the Middle East, Africa and South America, it has a sexual connotation and represents the “F” word!

We make hand gestures in our everyday lives and, evidently, it’s natural to use them as means of expression during a conversation. Yet, when we travel, it’s advisable to pay a bit more attention to what this habit might imply in order to avoid having bad experiences in our journeys.

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