While it is great to have fun during your overseas vacation this holiday season, it is essential that you follow some general rules while travelling abroad. As visitors, you should be mindful of adhering to local norms to avoid embarrassment. When travelling to certain countries like Italy, know that it is perfectly alright for the locals to stare at visitors and offense should not be taken. More importantly, you should be familiar with the local culture and customs, and respect them. Here are some tips on how you can be a gracious tourist.
#1 Exercise sensitivity when engaging in conversations
Source: Flickr.com | Brian Hammonds
Do avoid certain topics that are considered taboo in the country you are visiting. Don’t engage in political discussions, or ask the people about painful historical issues (wars) or situations (racism, immigration). Talking about sensitive issues pertaining to religion and more with the locals is usually a no-no.
#2 Dress appropriately
Source: Flickr.com | igh-033
Do your research beforehand, and know what the locals wear. Take off your shoes when required, like entering a temple or mosque, or when you are entering someone’s house. Pay attention to what others are wearing and dress respectfully according to local cultural norms.
#3 Watch your tone
Source: Flickr.com | Byron Barrett
Speak quietly and don’t draw attention to yourself. Watch what you say and mind your body language – putting your hands in your pocket while speaking can actually be considered disrespectful in quite a few countries. Be gracious and kind, in all of your interactions. Do your due diligence by learning about the common mistakes made in manners and nonverbal communication.
Source: Flickr.com | Peter Enyeart
One of the best things we look forward to travelling is trying out new delicacies. Every country has different rules governing meals and we should take them into consideration. In general, avoid eating with your left hand, since it is considered unsanitary in many countries. You might also want to avoid rejecting whatever’s being offered to you as it might be offensive. These are just a few of the proper food etiquette to note, so do find out more about them before visiting the country.
Source: Flickr.com | @wewon31
Find out whether it is appropriate to tip and how much you should tip in every situation. While it is customary to tip in some countries, countries like Japan generally shun tipping and discourage it. For countries where tipping is conventional, you might want to carry some cash around with you and it would be good to know how you can change money abroad.
Before you embark on your journey, spend a little more time learning about the culture and customs of the country. You may be eager to experience new things and let loose from time to time, but be mindful of your actions and be respectful. Travelling should be an enriching experience, and I’m sure gracious tourists will enjoy their trip as much as how others will enjoy their presence too.
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