International travel is easy as long as you stick to a few simple rules and not just the rules of airlines, passports and visas.

According to the travel experts at online flight comparison website,, holidaymakers need to make sure they don’t break the rules with cultural cringe.

This means not cutting lettuce with a knife and fork in France, avoid chatting to strangers in Italy and giving gifts in Mexico.

Oonagh Shiel, spokesperson for said part of the fun of travelling is going outside your comfort zone and seeing the differences between cultures.

“But, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings to avoid offending your hosts,” said Oonagh.

“Who’d have thought giving a gift in Mexico could be misconstrued as a bribe, that carnations might go down badly in Germany – or that folding your lettuce in France could save your blushes?”

The team at offers the following advice:

In Mexico – don’t bring extravagant gifts when visiting someone’s home. Instead bring something simple like chocolate, dessert or flowers. But avoid marigolds or red flowers as the Mexicans believe they symbolise death and can be associated with witchcraft.

If you don’t like something in Canada, forget the thumbs-down hand signal. Canadians consider this offensive.

In France, it’s an insult to the chef if you cut the lettuce of your salad. Instead fold the lettuce and make it fit into your mouth.

Italians are too reserved for small-talk so keep your greetings short and to the point. Too much jibber makes Italians feel threatened.

Bringing 12 carnations to a dinner party in Germany is a double whamming fo wrong. Germans consider carnations to be funeral flowers and even numbers are considered unlucky.

Jamaican’s can’t stand public displays of affection, so no hugs or kisses when you meet in Jamaica. Keep it conservative.

Leaving your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice will send shivers down the spine of the Chinese as it mimics a funeral ritual. Best to just rest your chopsticks beside your bowl when you are not using them.

Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach in Spain. If you don’t finish your meal, your host will be offended and assume you didn’t like the food. is a free flight comparison service and an excellent travel research tool. Simply enter your travel plans and Cheapflights will search more than 200 travel providers to find the cheapest or fastest holiday option. Once you’ve selected the best flight, you are re-directed to make your booking directly with that travel provider, with no middleman or extra cost.

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Susan Sullivan,