04/30/2014 04:09 pm ET Updated Jun 30, 2014

How to Flirt Smart and Safe Wherever You Are

By Kelly Mallory for

In the midst of Spring Break and travel season, it's always fun to explore casual love interests here at home or overseas. But, it can literally be uncharted waters when it comes to how to flirt and what's appropriate -- especially when you're in a different country. Here are some flirting tips from relationship expert Rachel DeAlto, as well as some pointers on what you can do to keep yourself safe.

Flirting while abroad? Read up on the culture.

Even if love is a universal language, the art of flirting differs from culture to culture. If you're chatting someone up while abroad, you should avoid pickup lines and sarcasm (which are often lost in translation), recommends DeAlto. "Stick to the basics of a warm smile and eye contact." You should also do some research and read up on their cultural norms to avoid missteps. A great resource to check out is Culture Crossing, a community-built guide to cross-cultural etiquette and understanding.

Flirt defensively if you feel uncomfortable.

Remember that intuition is key, and it's wise to go with your gut feeling if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. There's no shame or guilt in walking away, and it's a diversion that DeAlto calls the "anti-flirt." "Make less eye contact, continue to be nice, but a constant smile isn't necessary," advises DeAlto. "Don't touch him, and keep the conversation off any personal topics -- especially sex."

Don't try too hard.

Flirting isn't hitting on someone, it's opening the door for a connection. Don't overdo it by touching too much or talking about inappropriate first conversation topics, says DeAlto. "Trying too hard is a turnoff no matter what country you're in," she warns. "Just focus on getting to know them."

Distinguish between being friendly and flirting.

Not every person who talks to you will be trying to flirt with you. They may be trying to engage you in a casual conversation, especially if you're in a foreign country and they're interested in learning more about you and your culture. Pay attention to the topic of the conversation and the amount of physical touch. "If he's emphasizing his words with a hand on your shoulder or knee and asking you personal questions, it's flirting."

If you'd like to turn that casual conversation into something more flirty, here are five of DeAlto's favorite techniques:

  1. Make eye contact. "Without eye contact you'll never make a true connection."
  2. Smile. "It changes everything that comes out of your mouth, and shows your warmth."
  3. Be a good conversationalist. "Keep it light, positive, and about them! Ask questions, and stay engaged."
  4. Touch. "A short and sweet touch on the forearm or shoulder is a great way to let them know you're interested."
  5. Be mindful of your body language. "Pay attention to how you present yourself. No hands across the chest, and face him with your shoulders squared."

Flirting can be tricky whether you're on your home turf or traveling, so be sure to use DeAlto's tips as a way to catch someone's attention smartly and safely regardless of where in the world you are.

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