There are many benefits to traveling; you get to explore new surroundings, meet new people, and enjoy different cultures. Although traveling can be exciting, it can also be quite daunting. When you arrive in a new country, you don’t know what to expect, and some cultures can be completely different from your day to day life. If you enjoy traveling and do it regularly, you need to be aware of the rules and the expectations of the place you are visiting. It is the responsibility of travelers to understand the etiquette of the area you are visiting. It will not only ensure you fit in well but also make your travel experience much more enjoyable. These are some ways to travel the right way; by adhering to the rules of other countries, while you are out exploring the world.
Determine the Dress Code
Many countries have a specific dress code in place, and it is essential to be aware of this. For example, you should dress modestly in some countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and North Korea. In France, you must not wear face-covering headwear, and in the Caribbean, you could find yourself in trouble if you dare to wear camouflage. You could innocently end up wearing clothing which is either illegal or just disrespectful, so it is worth checking before you start your travels. The rules may seem a little strange in some places, but you must adhere to these.
Research the Country
It is interesting to find out more about the country you are visiting, but it could also save you from breaking the etiquette. For example, your handshake should be firm when you are greeting people in Brazil, whereas in France, a light handshake is more acceptable. It is a good idea to find out about the country you are visiting; you could also learn something quirky! Many travelers research places they have already visited but made more sense to understand the culture before you set off. The more you find out about the country and the culture, the better equipped you will be to fit in and have an enjoyable experience.
Who doesn’t love a happy, friendly face? Some countries you visit will be full of stern looks, but that doesn’t mean you need to get angry and annoyed. Just be yourself and try to be courteous and respectful. If people are traveling to work, for example, and you can take your time, try to let people go before you in queues. It will be appreciated, and it’s always nice to be courteous. Every culture is different, and although you may be used to a warm welcome, it won’t be the same everywhere. You can stay as you are and maintain your friendly demeanor, though; it will help you stand out for all the right reasons.
Note the Signage
Look around at the signage and follow the lead of the locals. If people are standing to the one side on the escalator, for example, follow their lead and do the same. If there are bicycle lanes throughout the city, make sure you stick to the pedestrian section, if you are on foot. It is essential to pay attention to the local signage and to follow the rules. There are reasons why the residents are following specific regulations, so make sure you do the same. Breaking the rules is at the least disrespectful, and at the most, it could cause you to end up with criminal charges.
To Tip or Not to Tip
In the UK and many other countries, it is proper etiquette to leave a tip when you dine at a restaurant. However, in some countries, this goodwill gesture could be seen as offensive. If you don’t want to face angry stares, you should read up on the culture of the country you are visiting. We tend to take it for granted that certain things are acceptable, and others are unacceptable, but this can differ depending on where you go. There are other types of etiquette you may want to consider, including how to greet people, how to park, and what subjects to talk about; make sure you know what to expect.
Keep it Clean
Most countries don’t appreciate people littering the streets, while others don’t seem to have any control over their litter. You should always be considerate about the place you are visiting, and make sure you put your litter in the bin or keep it until you find a suitable place to dispose of it. It is unacceptable to visit another country and spread litter around; it is essential to be respectful, no matter what experience is at home. Most places have separate bins these days for litter so that it can be recycled. It is essential to pay attention and be careful with your litter. The last thing you want to do is to visit new places and upset the locals.
Every country has it’s own issues when it comes to politics, etc., but it might be worth keeping your opinions a bit diluted when you are visiting other countries. For example, if you visit America and you start ranting and raving about how bad Donald Trump is, you might end up faced with the king of attention you don’t necessarily want. Many people don’t take it too well if visitors have a strong opinion of their political system or other controversial issues, and it might be best to just keep your thoughts to yourself during your travels. In some cases, even if they agree with you, they still won’t appreciate the fact that you hold such strong opinions of something that doesn’t necessarily affect you.
It can be easy to get carried away when taking photos on holiday, but make sure you are mindful of where you take photographs, and whether it could potentially be disrespectful. If you are visiting museums, for example, make sure you ask if you can take pictures before you do so. If you are using a selfie stick, stay mindful about the country you are visiting, and whether this is permitted. A quick check of your surroundings should be a good indication of whether you should take photos or not. If no one else is, it’s probably not allowed, or not a regular occurrence.
Learn the Language
No one expects you to understand the full language when you are traveling around, but it is good to learn some words, as locals will appreciate it. For example, being able to say ‘thanks’ and ‘hello’ when you are in shops will ensure you come across as friendly and appreciative. Everyone appreciates others who make an effort with them, and being able to greet people in their language, will instantly welcome you into their hearts. The ability to speak some of the languages, especially in tourist areas, will go a long way to building rapport with people. It is even better if you can speak some useful phrases, such as asking for a drink or directions. It is a good idea to carry a phrasebook around with you in case you need it. We also have the beauty of Google translate these days, and this can be extremely useful if you get stuck when trying to ask for something.
Consider Topics of Conversation
It is a good idea to consider your topics of conversation, especially with the locals. Some countries don’t appreciate if you ask personal questions or talk about money, for example. It can also be seen as inappropriate to ask about religion or political views. If you are speaking to locals, it is better to keep the conversation to general topics, so as not to cause any offense.
Choose Your Greetings
In some countries, it could be seen as inappropriate to hug people, especially those you are meeting for the first time. In general, it is better to keep your hugs to friends and family and greet others with a handshake. It may be standard in your own country but could be unacceptable in many others. If someone hugs you first, then you can choose to accept, but don’t be the first one to dive in for an embrace.
Patience is a Virtue
If you are a regular traveler, you will soon get to know the differences that exist when you travel from country to country; you’ll also get a good insight into the general way they run. In some places, everything will run on time, and the service will be quick and efficient. Other countries have a less reliable transport system and may take things a bit slower than what you have previously experienced. It is essential to be patient wherever you are, and not show signs of aggravating and frustration. Patience is a virtue, as they say, so try to keep your emotions to yourself, even if you are feeling frustrated. Some places may be much more crowded than you may be used to at home, but you need just to accept it and go with the flow.
Stay off the Booze
Many countries don’t appreciate intoxicated people, and they may go as far as to view this as a disgrace, or worse, you could end up in trouble with the police. Although many countries enjoy a drink or two, they don’t find it acceptable to binge drink. It is a good idea to stay off the alcohol when you travel or stick to a drink or two with dinner. It is not just better for the sake of fitting in with the culture, but also keeping yourself safe. If you are in an unknown place, the last thing you want is to be getting too drunk, especially if you are traveling alone.
Public Displays of Affection
If you want to show public displays of affection when you are traveling, take a look around you to see if others are doing the same. In some places, it is not acceptable to show public displays of affection, while it is acceptable in others. You can usually get a good insight into the culture when you look around. If you see people holding hands, then it’s a sign that you can be a bit more relaxed.
Don’t Expect English
English speakers tend to expect everyone else to speak the language, as it is the most common one out there. However, you shouldn’t assume that people speak English, just because you do. It is essential to try and talk conversationally in the local language, as you might find that no-one speaks English, depending on where you are. In some cases, you may be staying in a region without any tourists, and these places will be primarily non-English speakers.
Manners are Important
If you are eating out, make sure you use a knife and fork, even if you are eating chips or other food you would usually eat with your hands. It is vital to ensure you always have your manners in check, no matter where you are visiting. If you stick to good manners, you can’t go wrong. Some countries are particularly formal when it comes to their manners, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Always be Friendly
No matter where you go, always wear a smile and try to be as friendly as possible. Everyone warms more to people who have a smile on their face. If you are a visitor, it is even more important to be friendly as you want to leave a great impression. Enjoy your visit, and get as many positives from it as you possibly can.
Traveling is good fun, but if you want to enjoy the experience, even more, you should make sure you understand the expectations of where you are visiting. There are many points to consider, and you can get individual information for each country by researching online, checking with the tourist board, or reading a book on the culture of the place you are visiting. It is good to plan in advance and find out what information you need before you set off.