Hand Gestures you HAVE to Avoid While Travelling!

While on a day out with a friend, we must have spent hours taking countless pictures beside the London Eye (I know- I’ve been seeing it almost ceaselessly for the past 11 years and yet still act like a tourist when it’s around). Soon enough, the poses we made varied and varied, until we were pulling funny hand gestures (granted- they were innocent!) and finally dragging each other away somewhere else. 

When I arrived home and sat down to flick through the (literally hundreds) of photos I’d taken- one particular shot caught my eye- why? I think you can tell from the photo below..


Yep that’s right- I got the hand gesture wrong! That extra finger wasn’t supposed to be there (I decided to post it on Instagram anyway because it was the strangest one).

That got me thinking- what if getting it right wasn’t a good thing after all?!

Soon enough I started reading about some of the crazy experiences people have had after using the right hand gestures in the wrong countries, and that’s when I knew I had to write an article about it! Some of these completely surprised me. I felt this huge relief that I’d finally gotten around to reading about them… but at the same time I couldn’t help cringing at the thought that I may have already broken some of them!!

Want to avoid that? Then read on!

Here are my top 4 hand gestures that seem innocent enough… but with deathly consequences! (hopefully not literal!)

(1). The Thumbs-up sign! Seriously?! This is on my list, out of all the gestures we make on an everyday basis? Oh yeah- looks like the positive thumbs-up isn’t so positive in some countries.

What you mean: “This is great!”

What you’re actually meaning: [Middle finger]

Where to avoid: Parts of Italy, the Middle East.

(2). Devil Horns. Funnily enough, I don’t make this a habit, and have really only used it once. Maybe not a bad thing after all??

What you mean: “This rocks yea!!”

What you’re actually meaning: [someone’s wife has been unfaithful].

Where to avoid: Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy.

(3). The ‘OK’ sign. So you’re abroad in Brazil at a restaurant, and that slice of cake is great! Plus you loved the matching sauce. The waiter comes out to ask you how it is. In between huge mouthfuls of the good stuff you can’t really speak, so instead you indicate with the sign you’ve always thought meant ‘perfect’.

Oh no you didn’t!

What you mean: “Awesome, it’s good!”

What you’re actually meaning: [this is the equivalent of the finger!!]

Where to avoid: Brazil.

(4). Curling your fingers. Err, this may seem sort of an unusual one, but I suppose it might happen if, you know, your friend is at the other side of the store and you want them to come over to see the amazing chocolate you just found?(I know- my food examples hah) In Thailand, best to stick to shouting (however embarrassing).

What you mean: Come here!

What you’re actually meaning: Come over you dog (This gesture is reserved for calling over dogs in Thailand, and is considered rude).

Do you have any gestures to add to this? Any crazy stories about a hand gesture getting a reaction you didn’t intend? I’d love to hear from you! Just comment below 🙂




  1. Haha I love this! I broke all of these lol


    1. Hahah I’m in the same boat! So happy you like it Hannah 😉


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