What better way to broaden your horizons and open your mind to new peoples, places and perspectives than by traveling? Exposing yourself to different cultures, cuisines and customs will not only inject a sense of adventure and excitement into your life but can also help you to feel more comfortable and connected to your neighbors on foreign shores.
Whether you have a luxury trip in the diary or prefer to take inspiration from sites such as Budget Travel Plans, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the customs and rules of the country you are visiting beforehand to ensure your trip is as enjoyable and as seamless as possible. In this article, we have outlined some travel etiquette to keep in mind before you set off on your next journey.
Making a good impression is important in any country you visit and this is largely determined by the way you greet others. In some countries such as the U.S., a firm handshake may be perfectly acceptable whereas in others a kiss on the cheek may be customary, yet frowned upon in others.
From bowing and hugging to kissing and handshaking, getting your greeting right is imperative. Making the wrong gesture may not only be awkward but may also be seen as a sign of disrespect so it pays to do your research beforehand.
Your body language can also act as non-verbal communication and convey different messages in different countries. Being aware of this can help you to understand local gesturing and to avoid causing offense.
- Eye contact: In many Western countries, eye contact is thought to be a sign of attentiveness and confidence, however, this is not the case everywhere. For example, in many Asian or Latin American countries, prolonged eye contact can be considered aggressive or rude and should, therefore, be avoided.
- Hand gestures: Common hand gestures may also vary in meaning depending on the country you are in. For instance, a thumbs-up sign, which is a perfectly common and acceptable hand gesture in much of the world, can have a more negative connotation in countries like Italy, Iran, and Greece.
- Body language: While certain bodily behaviors may not receive a second glance at home, in other countries they may be considered bad manners. For example, stepping over another person’s outstretched legs is to be avoided in Asian countries, and pointing the soles of your feet towards another is considered rude in the Middle East.
- Touch: Some countries are more emotionally expressive than others. For example, in Italy, it is common to see acquaintances embrace each other and kiss on the cheek. In countries like India and the Middle East, while it is common to see men holding hands it is not customary for a man and woman to do so.
It is always important to be aware of the dress code of the country you are visiting to ensure you remain respectful of their customs and avoid unwanted attention. For example, in conservative countries such as in the Middle East, it is important to dress modestly and avoid wearing tightly fitted clothing or revealing too much skin.
The more you can familiarize yourself with the etiquette of your chosen destination the more likely you are to fit in and feel like a local.