Guides

Respecting Local Culture Whilst Abroad

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Guides

Respecting Local Culture Whilst Abroad

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When you visit a different country, it’s important to understand and respect the culture, local laws and general way of life in that country. Saying or doing something that seems completely normal back home might not be taken so well in foreign places, which is why you need to make sure you do your research before you travel abroad.

Do your Research

Research is critical when it comes to travelling abroad and making sure you don’t say or do anything that might get you into trouble or disrespect the locals. It would be beneficial if you learned some more about the country’s history and culture.

A simple Google search is enough and will help you to understand the basic culture of the country that you’re visiting. Try to keep your prejudices at home and be open to new experiences and cultures.

Clothing Choices

One of the most significant differences between different countries is clothing. Your choice of clothing may not matter much to you, but the locals might find it incredibly offensive without you even realising it.

If you’re visiting a religious site, you should probably try and dress more conservatively as a sign of respect. Temples and mosques, for example, may expect you to cover your shoulders and legs. You may also need to cover your hair with a scarf.

If it’s a hot country, choose a light scarf that you can remove once you’ve left the religious site. However, some regions would prefer you to dress modestly and cover your head out in public too, so make sure to do your research depending on your destination.

Respecting Foreign Mannerisms

It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with etiquette and mannerisms of your travel destination. Cultural mannerisms change depending on where you are in the world, so it’s vital that you are familiar with them and respect people’s traditions.

If you’re travelling in the Middle East to a Muslim country, for example, you need to be careful not to offend the locals.

Men are expected to stand when a woman enters the room. It’s also good manners to offer your food to others before you eat as a polite gesture. Your personal presentation is also essential.

It’s an insult to show the bottom of your foot to another person, so keep both of your feet firmly on the ground if you want to avoid stepping on someone’s toes!

Thoughtful Photography

When you’re in a foreign country, it’s exciting, and you want to capture as many moments on film as possible. However, don’t take it too far. It’s important to keep others in mind when you’re snapping pictures of landmarks or taking possible inappropriate photos that others may find offensive.

If you want to take a photograph of a person, always ask for their permission first. Don’t just snap random photographs of people and remember to respect their privacy.

Bridging Language Barriers

Communicating with people when there’s a language barrier is extremely difficult and frustrating (for both parties). So, why not make things easier by taking some time to learn a few necessary words and phrases to help you along?

You don’t have to learn the entire language, but familiarising yourself with words for different locations, food, water, etc. will be a huge help when it comes to making orders in restaurants and asking for directions.

You might even want to carry a small translation dictionary in your travel bag that you can refer to when you need it.

Food and Dining Etiquette

Different cultures have different food etiquette, so it’s a good idea to become aware of these before travelling. In China, it’s good manners to leave a small bit of food on your plate because it shows that the host fed you more than enough.

If you’re in Italy, don’t ask to take your leftover food home from a restaurant, this isn’t the norm over there! And don’t forget to tip in places that expect one. The US is an excellent example while some other countries and establishments might find tipping to be quite offensive, so do your research!

Show Respect at ALL Times

Some cultural aspects may seem strange or unusual to you as the traveller, but to someone else, it’s just their way of life. Make sure you don’t show any signs of disrespect when interacting with locals or important monuments or sites etc.

Basic good manners are also expected. For example, don’t talk loudly during an event and cause a distraction, don’t litter and make sure you remove any waste (crisp packets, bottles and wrappers etc.).

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Respecting Local Culture Whilst Abroad

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