International travel plans? Brush up on foreign greetings

- Dreaming of visiting a foreign country? If you’ve ever bungled a handshake at home- where you grew up with the culture- you’ll definitely want a primer on how to greet others when traveling abroad.

If New Zealand is a must on your bucket list, know that the traditional Maori greeting is touching forehead to forehead and nose to nose.

In many parts of Latin America and Europe the lips get involved with air kissing. A smooching noise is made, but not actual contact. Customs vary from region to region, even within the same country. In Sao Paulo it’s a single peck on the cheek, but in Rio, three’s the magic number. In France, the number of kisses ranges from 1 to 5, depending on where you are.

In Asia, touching strangers is too intimate. Skip the hugs in Japan greet new acquaintances with a bow. In Beijing a friendly nod will do.  From Thailand  to Indonesia, the traditional greeting is a variation palms pressed together with a bow.

In Tibet, they use tongue- but only sticking it out- as one of the more unique “hellos.”

Wherever your travels take you, do your research first. You don’t want to start your travel in a foreign country on the wrong foot-- or by kissing on the wrong cheek.

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