Etiquette When Visiting a Foreign Country

Although there is some room for forgiveness if a foreign visitor makes a number of social mistakes in your country, you can always do better by doing research and knowing more about a particular culture or practice. Etiquette will vary, depending on the country you are visiting. It is important that you know a few guidelines to avoid embarrassment and trouble.

Doing Research

First of all, you have to research about the particular country you intend to visit. View their political past and other traditions. Talk to some of the locals online before visiting and ask about some common practices that will convey you as a respectful individual. You can take a short language course to learn the basic sentences. You can create a simple vocabulary of the most common words, together with the right manner of saying it. You will get a friendlier response from the locals if they see that you tried to study a bit.

Trying Out New Things

Try to experience the new flavors, sights and sounds. Do not always stick to American fast food chains. You should study the basic dishes and meals served by the country you are visiting. If invited for dinner, learn how to behave around the table. Some countries find it rude if you refuse to taste some food offered to you. Observe how others behave at the table and just follow. Most of the table manners you are already practicing in your country may relatively be the same as in a foreign nation.

Always dress conservatively and in a manner that will ask for respect from the locals. If you are visiting religious sites, make sure that you do not have revealing clothes. Wear comfortable walking shoes, instead of sneakers to be ready for anything. You should also bring cash and your credit card, just in case you need to pay for certain fees. Make sure you exchanged your dollars beforehand. Read laws and other rules about alcohol consumption, operation of motor vehicles, smoking and other common behaviors. Abide by these at all times. You may be surprised to discover that punishment in other nations is much heavier compared to your own country for similar offenses.

From Home

Small gestures in your home country can significantly be misinterpreted. For example, nodding your head means agreement in America, but it means disagreement in Bulgaria. Physical gestures are highly important especially if you are communicating with the locals. In China, you will need to bring a calculator to haggle or purchase goods from the local merchants. You can bring a pen and paper while traveling to help you draw maps and find exact locations.

Smiling is a general gesture that conveys friendliness. Avoid, however, whispering or laughing at religious sites because this is a sign of disrespect. Feel free to ask your tourist guide about certain behaviors so you can enjoy the entire experience. Ask how to properly greet new people, since you should expect to meet new faces during your trip.

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