Traveling to places with different culture is an amazing experience, but it’s important to know basic travel etiquette to ensure your trip goes smoothly.
Traveling is always fun – especially when you get to explore new places. But, it is very important to remember that the way things are done in the United States is not necessarily how they are done in other countries.
In fact, sometimes actions or statements that are appropriate in the U.S. may be highly offensive somewhere else.
Why is Travel Etiquette Important?
Don’t take chances. Any time you decide to travel abroad, do so responsibly. And that includes taking the time to do a little research and learn about your destination before you get on that private jet to head out on vacation.
Not sure what to research? Here are a few travel etiquette tips that can make your next trip go smoothly.
1. You are a Guest
As easy as it is to want to forget that you aren’t a guest as you travel to distant lands, it is important that you make a point to remember that you are.
You do not live here.
Let’s repeat – you do not live here. So, don’t get comfortable enough to treat it as you would if it were home.
Respect everything about the area – including the locals. Be nice and remember that, although you are on vacation, those who call this place home have their normal daily lives and responsibilities to tend to. Don’t get in their way and they will see to it that you enjoy your time, too.
2. Learn the Laws (and Rules) – And Follow Them
Regardless of what you think, you are not invincible.
Laws and rules are put in place for reasons. And, some of these reasons could be serious. So, when you are traveling and you come across signs or postings advising you to do or not do something, adhere to them.
Take time to learn an overview of the local laws, too, so that you are able to keep yourself – and others – out of harm’s way.
Remember, breaking a law in another country does not always lead to an easy outcome. Something that comes with a minor consequence in the U.S. could be greatly punished elsewhere. Therefore, it is best to know before you go.
3. Do Your Best to Learn Some of the Local Lingo
You don’t have to know any of the languages that stem from your destination but doing so gives you a bit of advantage. Taking the time to learn simple things, such as hello and goodbye, as well as thank you and please, are important. And it shows a level of respect.
In addition, wherever you are traveling, it is proper travel etiquette to know how to greet someone.
- Is it proper to nod?
- Shake hands?
- How about kissing on each cheek?
In some countries, certain greetings are inappropriate. In others, they are acceptable.
Learning about the local language, lingo, and personal interaction can help you out greatly when it comes to communicating abroad.
4. Research Dining Etiquette
Have you ever eaten food from another country? There is a good chance that when you do, the food will not taste as you anticipate. Why?
Because it is authentic. So, whether you have had this type of food before or this is your first chance at indulging yourself in the local culture, be respectful. Don’t complain about the taste of the food – or do something as vulgar as spitting it out or making a scene if you don’t like it.
In addition, learning about appropriate dining procedures is also important. Taking the time to learn about this before going can save you some frustration – and maybe even some embarrassment.
For example, when it comes to tipping, some countries tend to expect it. However, others find the practice a bit offensive.
This is definitely one of those things you need to discover before you head out.
5. Wear Appropriate Dress
Just as there are certain customs in the United States (think no shoes, no shirt, no service) there are certain ways of dressing – and not dressing – in other countries.
Learning this before you even leave home not only shows your travel etiquette, but can save you a lot of frustration while packing.
For example, some countries frown upon women showing too much skin. And, while you may not agree, it is a matter of respect to dress more modest than, perhaps, you normally would. Or, you may come across certain places that prefer you not wear shoes.
Be respectful and take them off.
6. Watch What You Say
You may think you know what it is like to live in a particular location. Maybe you have over-done your research. Maybe your Great Grandpa used to reside here and told you stories. Or, maybe you just watch a lot of CNN.
Whatever your excuse, it is important to remember that just because you know a few things about a destination, it does not mean that you know what it is like to live there.
Don’t try talking – or debating – with locals about things you don’t truly understand. Whether it is political, religious, lifestyle, or otherwise, just keep your opinions to yourself. You may find yourself in a bit of hot water if you don’t.
7. Show Care for the Places You Travel
This is the most important travel etiquette tip of all. When you are traveling to a new destination, show care and be respectful. Treat locals well and understand that you are a guest here. Abide by the rules, follow the laws, and don’t litter.
Care for the places you visit so that they can continue to be visited by many tourists for years to come. This is especially the case when visiting areas that are highly-trafficked, but sensitive, such as some of the natural areas and natural wonders of the world.
In short? Be the good human that you are no matter where you are.
Common Questions About Traveling Manners
Travel etiquette are guidelines to abide by when traveling to new places that may have different culture, views, and common behaviors. It’s important to research these before traveling.
The following tips should be considered, regardless of where you travel to: remember you are a guest, learn the major laws (and abide by them), try learning local lingo, research dining etiquette, wear appropriate dress, watch what you say, and be respectful.
The most important tip when traveling is to respect where you are going. Know what is considered rude or unacceptable, and treat locals and the environment well. In short, be a good human.