Sadly, good manners while traveling are becoming more of a rarity rather than the norm. From stressors like flight delays and traffic jams to just sheer exhaustion, some travelers are not on their best behavior while on the road. Unfortunately, behavior is often reflective of the visitor's country, which is why it's prudent to make a good impression abroad and shake the cultural stereotypes of certain countries being rude.
Are you worried that some of your actions may be considered ill mannered? Here are some tips to help ensure you leave a good impression during your journey.
Researching cultural norms can go a long way towards earning respect from locals in the country you are visiting. Whether it's how standard greetings are given, how to exchange business cards, proper attire or even food etiquette, understanding what is culturally acceptable in another country can save you a lot of headache and embarrassment.
Along the same lines as researching cultural practices in a destination, taking the time to learn some simple phrases like "hello", "thank you", "where is the bathroom?" or even "how much does this cost?" can help you in many situations. And whether you pronounce it right or wrong, most locals are happy you have even made the effort to communicate with them in their native language.
This is mentioned in researching cultural norms, but it really is important to address dressing respectfully once more. Whether you plan to visit a religious building or enjoy a night out on the town, it's crucial to dress appropriately. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing girls dressed in cut off shorts and very provocative clothing in a Muslim country - try to be respectful of the culture you are visiting and keeping your knees and shoulders covered is a great starting point.
There's nothing worse than being on a cruise ship next to the guy who starts sneezing everywhere without covering his mouth. You may laugh at the people in Asia wearing surgical style facemasks in public, but with the ability for airborne illnesses to spread quickly, they have the right idea. Try to keep your germs at bay and at least cover your mouth when sneezing and wash your hands immediately afterwards.
For those of us with severe allergies, one of the worst parts of travel is getting stuck next to the person who decided to take a bath in an entire bottle of cologne or perfume. Just because you love the smell doesn't mean all the passengers on the plane will. Remember, everything in moderation and try to have some consideration for your fellow travelers around you.
This is one of the more talked about subjects – you paid for the use of your seat, not the one in front of you. When you get up, please try not to grab hold of the seatback in front of you and put all your weight on it. There's not much worse than finally getting to sleep on that 10-hour flight only to be tossed forward as the person behind you slingshots you into the air after pushing your seat all the way down.
Some people believe in tipping while others are very vocal about their disdain for leaving a gratuity anywhere. Whether you tip big or not at all, it's still better to adhere to what is considered the cultural norm in the country you are visiting. In some destinations, gratuity is actually included on the bill already, while other countries see tipping as an insult.
Whether you are having a rough travel day or work stress is getting the better of you, always try to be gracious to those you encounter while on the road. The hotel employees and restaurant servers get their fair share of unhappy travelers, so try not to take your unrelated frustrations out on them. Being nice can go a long way and, who knows, you might end up with a room upgrade or other benefits by just being genuinely nice to those helping you.
If you are traveling with kids while on vacation, don't let your parenting skills take a holiday as well. If you wouldn't let your kids do something at home, don't let them get away with it on vacation. Flight attendants and hotel and restaurant staff are there to service all of their guests, not to babysit your kids for you.
What other best practices would you add to this list?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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