Being aware of what’s going on around you as you travel internationally is key to not being disruptive and a traveling stereotype. There’s some basic etiquette you can follow to keep you from looking foolish during your international trip.
Support Local Businesses
Keeping your purchases local and small is definitely on the do list. Finding the best local food spots is just as easy as asking a local hotel or other lodging manager where the good spots are. Looking for small, independent businesses to support when looking for your next souvenir is also a great option. Finding local artists for custom commission pieces, metalworkers for jewelry, or other niche markets is a great way to pass the time while you adventure around your destination!
Research Tipping Culture
If you’re traveling somewhere out of the U.S., researching tipping culture is a huge do. You don’t want to wind up not tipping if you’re supposed to – and while tips aren’t expected worldwide, it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into culturally if you do decide to tip for exemplary service.
Prepare Your Papers
Getting your paperwork necessary to travel through customs is a critical part of being a respectful and courteous traveler. Clogging up the line by ruffling through an indeterminate amount of paper is no way to start (or end!) your trip. Ensuring you have all the proper documentation necessary, from your passport to any receipts, on hand and easily accessible in a slim briefcase or other carry-on bag is a great way to keep the line moving smoothly and get you into or out of your destination quickly, without being too much of a bother to other people.
Mind Your Body Language
Being mindful of the fact that your body language can be read across national lines is key when making gestures while traveling internationally. If you make hand gestures frequently while talking, it might be good to check and see what the local culture is like with those hand gestures, just so you don’t offend anyone by accident. In that same line of thought, try to pick up the local language while you’re at it – even a few phrases like “hello”, “goodbye”, or language that will help you ask for directions or where certain places are can help hugely if the country you’re visiting doesn’t share the same first language as you.
Don’t litter! Quite simply, places outside of the U.S. have made recycling much more accessible and are more eco-friendly than the United States. Places outside of the U.S. have much more strict regulations and codes around recycling and recyclable material, and have a vested interest in keeping those operations running smoothly.
Disrespect the Local Wildlife
Do not disrespect local wildlife. It’s not difficult to get out of the way of local wildlife, or avoid dangerous foods for them. Going somewhere beautiful and exotic is far better if you leave the naturescape untouched and unharmed. Don’t feed the birds; don’t chase the dogs or cats you may see along your way; and do not try to catch anything you shouldn’t be catching! The only shooting you should be doing is with a camera lens.
Treat People Poorly
This is just basic good manners, but especially when traveling internationally, speaking kindly to people around you is critical. Language barriers are real, but being mindful of those and being sure to speak kindly to those around you can help ease that stress and strain on all parties involved. Don’t make assumptions, and don’t be passive-aggressive if people around you have difficulty understanding you when you speak.
Impede Traffic or Block Public Transportation
Avoiding big crowds and surrounding public transportation stations may not be at the top of mind, but it’s definitely on our do not list. Being mindful of not stepping in people’s way, or crowding the aisles in planes, trains, or buses.
Travel Without Insurance
Don’t travel without insurance! There are different types of travel insurance, covering a variety of price tags for travel-related needs. Making sure your own insurance covers you as you travel internationally is also key, since there are different regulations and rules around international travel than there are for domestic travel. Some countries have rules and regulations surrounding medical treatment when you’re a foreigner traveling there, so be sure to check into that no matter where you’re going.
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