12 Awkward and Embarrassing Moments That Made Travelers Wish They Were Back Home

Sinking in chairs out of embarrassment and folding into ourselves due to awkward experiences are sensations we all experience at least once throughout our life span. I would argue it is better to experience these feelings in foreign countries where we are less likely to run into those individuals again than in our home towns. However, these individuals may disagree.

1. Here, Have Some Poison

The poison is a green liquid in a glass vial.
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Learning a different language in school is great when you have a working knowledge of the language. If you scrape by with a few words or phrases, ensure you know what they mean. One traveler reports when they traveled to Germany, they tested their elementary German skills. They attempted to tell their new friends they had brought some gifts from India. However, they forgot the word for ‘gift,’ so they used the English version, unaware that ‘gift’ in German means poison. 

2. Reboard, Please

Side perspective shot. Passengers (wearing face masks) boarding, and alighting from a bus in orderly manner.
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One guy speaks of his trip to Singapore and the excruciating embarrassment that befell him on one foul day. He waited for a bus outside his hotel, and once the automobile pulled up, it opened the middle doors and let everyone out. Since the front doors did not open, the man hurried inside the bus, jumping through the middle doors, hoping they wouldn’t close before he got inside. After sitting down, the driver called him to the front, told him to wait for the front doors to open, and had him exit and re-enter the bus as the other passengers watched. 

3. Would You Like To Drive, Sir?

smiling handsome father teaching teen son driving car and looking at him
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If you’ve traveled to a different country, you’ve probably hopped on the wrong side of the car. “I came out of the airport, and a cabbie stopped by and loaded my luggage in the back seat. I silently went to the front seat and closed my eyes. Once the cabbie was done loading the luggage, he came to the front and asked if I wanted to drive the car. I was surprised why he wants me to drive only to find out I was actually sitting in the driver seat,” a traveler notes. 

4. Did You Just Kiss My Mother?

I love you so much, my dear! Affectionate millennial daughter greeting happy senior elderly mom (1)
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An accidental kiss led to a lifetime of embarrassment for the perpetrator and endless laughs from their friends. A respondent from India says their most embarrassing moment occurred when they visited their friend’s family in Northern Ireland. In Ireland, the common greeting entails kissing each other on either side of the face, but in India, greetings are far less touchy. So, this newcomer walked up to their friend’s mom and nervously twitched toward her face, resulting in a kiss on the mouth. 

5. Don’t Charge Me for That?

No. Young serious and confident asian woman showing stop
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Have you ever been in a foreign country, confounded at what you must pay for and what is a part of the shopping culture? A respondent recalls their confoundment over a shopping separator on their first grocery shopping trip in America. They informed the cashier numerous times not to charge them for the grocery divider. The cashier glared at the customer and pushed the separator aside as they rang up the groceries. 

6. Those Aren’t Shorts

Asian man wearing a suit or business wear on top and sweatpants or boxers on bottom.
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Who hasn’t worn their underwear as shorts in public? According to this contributor, their classmates and family in India wore boxers as shorts, so they assumed the U.S. fashioned the same statements. After a few outings, trips to bars, and social interactions wearing boxers as shorts, another man from India grabbed the young man and informed him that people don’t wear their underwear outside in the U.S.

7. Flush vs. Alarm

woman hand flush toilet after using
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Sometimes, toilet flushes look like alarms. While a globetrotter set foot in London, they headed into a department store and wandered into an accessible stall. They noticed a different contraption lingering above the toilet, which had to be a flush. This person yanked the lever, which set off an alarm and alerted emergency medical staff to assist the patron in the bathroom to assist them.

8. Are We Being Filmed?

Friends having coffee being photographed with a call phone. Woman taking pictures of her friends in a cafe.
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A couple reminisces about the adventure they shared at a Parisian restaurant. The dining establishment, Privé De Desert, surely offered the best dessert in the neighborhood. The couple sat down and ordered a serving of lava cake to split, though the waiter sported them a strange look. After their dessert, the two got up and paid, receiving the same strange glance from the cashier. According to the cashier, the restaurant formulated their items out of dinner food to look like desserts. However, the lava cake was an actual dessert. 

The couple laughed off their mistake, asking if that kind of thing happened a lot. The cashier replied with a stern no and waved off the customers. As they grabbed the handle to exit, the doorknob flew off the socket, clanging across the tile and drawing more unwanted attention to the couple. Once the wife neared the doorknob and attempted to grab it, her metal water bottle hit the ground, sending more soundwaves through the non-dessert restaurant. 

On top of all of that, the restaurant owner asked if they were filming a prank show. 

9. Standing in the Middle of the Escalators

Shot of middle aged woman smiling while going up escalator in building indoors.
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There is an unspoken rule in London’s underground where passengers remain on the right side of the escalators if they wish to stand and wait until the ride reaches the top of the platform. This way, those rushing to work can easily breeze by on the left side without asking anyone to move out of the way. One person noted their past in London when they didn’t know this rule, so they remained on the left side of the escalator, unaware of why everyone around them groaned and grumbled toward them.

10. Overflowing Drain

overflow drain
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When in France! This globetrotter mentions their previous trip to France, where they stayed with a friend and their family. The duo took a shower together, and when things got steamy, they blocked the drain with their bodies, causing the shower to spill over and flood the floor and the new furniture installed in the bathroom. Since the entire room flooded, the towels were soaked with shower water, causing the duo to confront their family with no clothing on. 

11. We Have an Elevator

Elevator
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Last summer, my best friend booked our Airbnb in London, England. We set off to the other side of the pond for a ten-day excursion to celebrate our birthdays. She informed me before we arrived at the lodge that we’d have to walk up seven flights of stairs because the building did not have an elevator. Once we arrived at the Airbnb, we inhaled a few deep breaths before scaling the first stories and keeling over, out of breath and red-faced. Too many minutes later, we arrived on our floor and met our host, who looked confused, asking why we didn’t take the elevator. 

Let’s just say I harbored a bit of hostility toward my friend that day.

12. Kiss Me

pointing at cheek kiss me smiling happy closed eyes
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A student reports their most embarrassing time was “asking half of the people in downtown Beijing to kiss me. I was studying Mandarin at a language school in Beijing. We were tasked with asking people throughout the city a series of questions. The Chinese word for ‘to ask’ is the same as ‘kiss,’ only using a different tone. Well, I was using the wrong tone. So, after three hours of asking countless strangers to kiss me, my teachers finally corrected me to great embarrassment.”

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