Home Paul Ebeling When Traveling Be Mindful of Others

When Traveling Be Mindful of Others

Waiting in the airport terminal watching planes

When traveling the world there are often unwritten rules governing your behavior. From the expectations of other tourists to traditions and customs, one must take care not to offend. To avoid making that faux pas that ruins your trip, below are some Key travel etiquette tips that can help make your trip rewarding, as follows:

Remember you are the guest

Always be mindful you’re the guest

In Japan, it’s perfectly acceptable to slurp noodles; in China, it’s normal to burp after a meal. But, at home in the US it is manners. So when traveling in those Asian nations, enjoy your noodles as the locals do, as you are the guest, fit in, and get along.

Avoid local, regional and national politics

Avoid politics

Whether BREXIT in Britain or President Trump in the US, it is not a good idea to express an opinion about politics in a country that is not your own. When passions run high, it’s all too easy to upset hosts. So, play it safe and confine yourself to the role of listener. Of course, if asked your opinion it may be safe to engage in conversation, but remember to be courteous, and respectful of others’ perspectives.

Do not adopt local slang

Don’t adopt local slang

In an effort to fit in, you might be tempted to adopt local slang. But while raising your glass and saying “Cheers” in a London pub is absolutely fine, calling everyone “me ol’ china” is not. Unless you want to be accused of mockery or treated with derision, it’s best to avoid Cockney rhyming slang or its equivalent. Note that blindly adopting slang is different from making a conscious effort to learn the language. But still, until you understand the culture and people, hold off on the slang terms.

Do not bargain too hard

Don’t bargain too hard

Head to a souk in Marrakesh or a market of Guatemala and if you pay full price, you will get a laughed from the sellers. Unfortunately, the enthusiastic traveler can take things a little too far in their efforts to get a good deal. Haggle too hard and you risk a desperate trader missing out on vital income that could have been spent feeding a family. Bargain a little to play along, but never so much that your sale is going to cause harm, my rule is a 3X exchange makes the seller and buyer happy.

Keep out of the way

Keep out of the way

Spoiling someone’s photograph to get your own is just not acceptable. Pay attention to what is going on around you. If you want to take lots of snapshots, step aside to let others get theirs and carry on when they are done sans the selfies. Ride a busy Metro at rush hour by all means, but move over on an escalator if you are blocking someone’s way. You might be on holiday but locals are going to work, so do not make their commute more difficult than it likely is. Respecting other people’s space is also important on planes, trains and buses.

Dress and act appropriately

Dress and behave appropriately

It is common knowledge that you need to cover your head, shoulders, knees and even ankles when going into many religious buildings, but in the country of Georgia, women are not allowed to enter if they are wearing men’s trousers. Pointing the soles of your bare feet at someone in Thailand is insulting, as is patting someone on the head. Hand gestures are also riskky. The thumbs up sign that will win you fans across Europe could well get you arrested in Iran, while the “I’m fine” signal used by divers everywhere is off the table in Brazil as it has a whole other meaning. Read up before you go and learn what’s up.

What it comes down to is respect. If we respect others, then we can all enjoy this beautiful planet of ours, and that what travel is about, Yes?

Enjoy your travels.

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