Traveling the world is certainly exciting, but we can’t claim that it’s always easy. There have been obstacles in every new country we’ve arrived in. Every culture, including our own, has its quirks that might baffle or trip up a foreigner.

Here are a few things we’ve seen around the world – things you might be thankful to know before you get there.


China – An Organized Brawl

Hate standing in line? You might actually miss the civilized organization of a queue while you’re in China. When riding the metro, get ready to push your way on the train or you’ll never get anywhere. When the train doors open, everyone just piles on and off at the same time. This leads to a lot of flying elbows, shouting, and pissed off people. It took us some time to get used to this process. But eventually we learned to enjoy letting off steam and whacking people with our umbrellas during rush hour.

Thailand – A Guessing Game

Common advice in “The Land of Smiles” is to ask for directions three times before you begin your journey. Some people are very reluctant to admit they don’t know something, so don’t trust the first answer you get. Confirm it with a couple locals first. And while Thailand is known for their relaxed, friendly culture, we’ve also learned that smiles here can mean many different things. Sometimes they reflect genuine happiness. But they can also signal nervousness or confusion.

India – The Center of Attention

Confession: we actually kind of loved this. But not everyone will. Wherever we want, people wanted pictures with us. And once we took one picture, more people would flock to us until we were surrounded by a huge crowd. When we weren’t taking pictures, we would constantly catch people staring at us. And the small talk was endless! Everyone wanted to know where we were from, how long we were in India, and what we were doing that day.

Singapore – Surprisingly Strict Laws

No, we didn’t experience any legal problems during our time in Singapore. But we were surprised to discover there were very harsh punishments for misdemeanors as small as littering or forgetting to flush a toilet. But this explains how the city-state looks so spotless, even in the busiest areas.

USA – Dependance on Cars

We know our countries aren’t immune to these quirks. Kristin recently returned home for the first time, and what struck her the most was how spread out everything was. Of course this varies per city, but residential areas are rarely near many stores and public transportation is lacking. Having a car is almost always a necessity. Her average daily steps went from around 15,000 to less than 1,000.

England – Hefty Price Tags

We’ve written before about one of our most shocking experiences in the UK last Christmas – buying tickets for a short train ride! The price was staggering for someone who has gotten used to the cheapness of Southeast Asia.

If you’ve traveled to any of the same places as us, are these examples are relatable? Let us know if you agree or disagree – or add your own examples. And if you’re planning a trip to any of these countries, we hope we’ve prepared you for some potential obstacles.