- In China, leaving food on your plate is polite but in Africa, it’s impolite
- Conversations about religion and politics are always best avoided
- The way you address people differs from country to country
Summer holiday plans are no longer limited to visiting the grandparents. Each year, the number of people traveling abroad increases. When you travel abroad, apart from keeping your passport and visa safe, tourists also need to mind a few travel etiquettes
Things you consider quite normal at home may be frowned upon abroad. For example, did you know that in America, people would be happier if you shared the gift receipt rather than scratched off the price tag?
To help you out, here are a few local travel etiquette rules followed by people in different continents.
Travel Etiquette Around The World
Travel Etiquette In Europe
Europeans take pride in how they look. Sneakers and walking shoes are reserved for hikes through the hills. If you’re in a city, you might realize that people who are smartly dressed get better service. So, remember to pack a pair of heels or formal shoes and a nice outfit or two.
Lower Your Voice
It’s considered very rude to talk in loud voices. Europe is known for its cathedrals, museums and castles. These places echo and if you don’t tone down your voice it can literally boom across the place. To be on the safe side, use your library voice.
Ask For Your Bill
Serving staff at European restaurants are usually in no hurry for their table to finish their meals and leave. They consider interrupting patrons rude and so won’t usually offer the bill on their own. Instead, you will have to ask for the bill.
In many restaurants across Italy, it’s considered quite normal to walk across to the front desk to pay your bill.
Don’t Touch Farm Produce
Visiting a farmer’s market can be a unique experience in Europe. However, buying fruits and vegetables here isn’t the same as shopping at your local mandi.
Farmers frown on people who poke and prod fruits ad vegetables before buying them. Don’t be surprised if grocers in Italy give you plastic gloves to touch the produce.
Buy A Round
In counties like Ireland, when you go out to a pub with friends or family, everyone is expected to buy a round of drinks for the group. So, if you’re going out with 6 people, you’ll be expected to not just buy a drink for yourself but a drink for everyone else as well.
This is usually limited to 1 round. At the same time, don’t feel awkward if the others in your group buy you a drink.
Travel Etiquette In America
Be On Time
Americans consider it rude to be kept waiting. Even if you’re just meeting someone for coffee, make sure you reach the place on time. If you know you’re going to be late, don’t wait till you get there to tell the person but give them a call in advance and let them know.
Don’t Touch Children
In India, nobody would think twice if you squeezed a child’s cheeks or reached out to hold a baby. However, in America, displaying intimate behavior towards a stranger’s child is a big no-no.
Children and taught to be wary of strangers from an early age and you may get strange looks if you approach a child you don’t know. If you want to say something to a child, it is generally better to address the adult they are with.
You Can’t Smoke Anywhere And Everywhere
Smoking is disliked by most Americans. Most public areas and restaurants are smoke-free zones. Hence, you cannot smoke on the roads. If you must light up, look for specially designated ‘smoking’ areas.
Avoid Talking About Religion And Politics
Religion and politics are two topics best avoided during conversations with your American counterparts. You might notice that American change the subject almost instantly when either of these two topics come up. Given the diverse population of this country, conversations on these topics can get heated quite quickly.
Names Are More Important Than Titles
Americans do not give business cards the same value as many Asian countries. Exchanging business cards is usually sans ceremony. They pay higher value to the verbal introduction. Here, it is more important to remember the person’s name than his or her title. You are also usually expected t address people by their name.
Travel Etiquette In Asia
Use Family Names
Unlike America, addressing someone by their first name is not the norm in Asian countries like China and Vietnam. Instead, you must address them by their family name and Mr/Mrs.
Alternatively, you could address them by their honorific title such as teacher or doctor, etc. When you meet a group of people, the senior-most or eldest must be addressed first as a sign of respect.
Give And Receive With Both Hands
Whether you’re exchanging business cards or giving someone a gift, always use both hands. It is considered impolite to give or receive something with only one hand.
In China, refusing a gift initially is the norm. Also, you should know that it is considered impolite to open a gift in the presence of the person who gifted it unless they insist on you doing so.
Walk Clockwise In Temples
When visiting temples or monasteries, you should walk in a clockwise direction. If you’re wearing a cap, it should be removed before entering a temple in China. As in Indian temples, tourists must stay quiet in the temple premises.
Do Not Use Red Ink
Red is symbolic of many things. While wrapping a gift in red paper is symbolic of prosperity, red ink is looked upon as a sign of protest or criticism.
When in countries like China, never use red ink to write anything especially a person’s name. Here red ink is used to write the names of criminals on their tombstones or in official records. It may also be used to convey bad news.
Tipping is usually not required in Japanese restaurants and hotels. Most establishments add a fee set y them into your bill. If you still want to tip someone in a hotel or restaurant, always place the money in an envelope.
Also, not all restaurants and hotels accept credit cards so be sure to carry enough cash with you.
Travel Etiquette In Australia
Hold The Door
Whether you like to call them lifts or elevators, it always polite to hold the door for someone approaching. This should be followed even if you walk through a restaurant or hotel door and notice someone else approaching the door within 5-6 steps. If the elevator is crowded, it is also considered polite to ask them what floor they need to get off on.
Get In Line
Queuing is not optional in Australia. Pushing your way through in any place or situation is considered very rude. If you’re not sure of where the queue ends, it fine to ask someone’ is this the end of the line?’
In crowded places like restaurants and nightclubs, if the bartender approaches you before someone else who you know has been standing there for longer than you, it is polite to tell him or her that the other person was there before you.
Bring Something Along
If you’re invited to someone’s home, it is polite to bring something along with you. Beer or wine are acceptable gifts. You can also ask the host beforehand if there’s something you can bring. In informal get-togethers, it isn’t out of pace for hosts to ask guests to bring their own meat along for a barbeque.
Stay On The Left
Australians drive on the left side of the road. Even when you’re walking down a road or down a flight of stairs, you should stay towards the left side. This allows people coming in the opposite direction to walk past you easily.
Footwear Is Optional-Mostly
Don’t be surprised if you see Australians walking barefoot through supermarkets. Thongs or flip-flops aren’t limited just to the beach but can be worn anywhere. This is seen more commonly around the coastal areas. However, fine dining restaurants may frown upon tourists entering the establishment in flip-flops.
Travel Etiquette In Africa
Tourists are always expected to be generous with their tips or baksheesh. Tips are expected not just for waiters in restaurants but also people looking after your shoes outside a mosque, custodians who open doors for you, taxi drivers, etc.
Don’t Leave Food On Your Plate
In some Asian countries, it is considered impolite to leave your plate empty but in Africa, the opposite holds true. Your host will be insulted if you leave food on your plate. Vegetarianism is also considered strange given the important role meat plays in African cuisine.
Don’t Put Your Hands in Your Pockets
Putting your hands in your pockets while having a conversation with someone else is considered extremely rude. At the same time, you should not point an index finger towards anyone.
This is seen as a challenge and aggressive behavior. Talk in audible tones without shouting. Talking in whispers can also be taken negatively as it can be interpreted as you gossiping.
Silence Is Acceptable
Long spans of silence are quite normal in African conversations. Silence is acceptable and you need not feel uneasy during these silent spans. When conversing with Africans, never start with topics of hardship or personal struggles. Also, serious issues should never be raised during meals.
Africans have a different interpretation of personal space as compared to people from other countries. It is not considered impolite if someone sits down beside you on a bus even if the rest of the bus is empty.