Things You Should Never Do While Traveling Abroad
When you’re visiting a destination, you’re serving as an ambassador for all future tourists from your country. This means that your individual actions have the ability to make destination exploration easier or much, much harder for others that follow you. So, here’s how to leave a positive impression and have a safe and pleasant trip abroad.
If you chose to travel to Asia, you’re in for a world of surprises. This continent is unbelievably huge, which means it’s home to many different nationalities, religions, and cultures. So, here are a few things that are taboo in Asia and should be avoided:
Eating with your left hand
Apologies, lefties, but in Asian countries (mostly Southeast Asia), the left hand is used for toilet functions and other unhygienic tasks. That’s why you might want to limit your use of the left hand when interacting with people, greeting someone and especially eating. No matter if you use toilet paper or not, it’s best to eat with your right hand—it’s just a matter of form. Also, use your right hand when accepting items or change and giving gifts and paying.
Gawking at people
Visiting poor, rural areas has become a draw for tourists, but don’t forget to be respectful. Real people live and work there—they are not exhibits! Make sure not to stare at anyone for too long, no matter what they are doing. Traditional clothing is something especially attractive to tourist, so if you want to snap a photo of someone interesting, ask politely. Sometimes, they will ask for a small fee for taking a photo with you, so assess the situation and respect their wishes.
Skipping local cuisine
Sure, this is a rule that is valid for any place in the world. No matter what you heard previously, make sure to give local food a shot. For instance, Asia is full of unique and super-tasty dishes you simply can’t find anywhere else in the world. Everything from their savory dishes to amazing desserts will definitely open up a whole new world of tastes. You’ll go to MacDonald’s when you get home.
Expecting everyone to speak English
In some of the bigger cities and major tourist attractions, you can find people who speak English, but as soon as you step off the beaten track, you will have a hard time finding someone who speaks your language. That’s why it’s very important to have a few key phrases memorized. Things like “please” and “thank you” will make your trip much more comfortable and pleasant. There are also amazing translation apps you can use or grab an old-fashioned dictionary. In general, checking various blogs with practical international travel tips is also a great idea. You will probably find heaps of great info you can use on your trip abroad. All in all, people in Asia are very warm and welcoming, so with some effort, you’ll have a wonderful vacation.
No matter whether it’s Buddha, Allah or any Hindu deity, make sure to be respectful when talking about religion and Gods. Many people consider religion a huge part of their lives, so things can become very bad very fast if you say something wrong. It’s best not to discuss religions if you can. However, don’t miss a chance to visit wonderful places of worship across Asia. Just look at the locals and follow what they do. Make sure not to climb on statues and monuments—that’s a big no-no!
Even though much smaller than Asia, Europe also has its special way of doing things. While its culture is much more similar to Australia or the U.S. there are still things you can keep in mind when traveling across this old continent:
Asking about religion and money
Many people from Europe (especially Germans and Swiss) value their privacy above anything else. So, it’s best to say away from highly personal questions like religion, age, salary, and other private family concerns. When making small talk, sticking to the weather is your best choice. When you get to know Europeans better, you’ll find out that they are ready to discuss everything, they just tend to be a bit closed off with strangers.
Being too loud
While some European nations don’t mind this behavior at all, others like Swiss, Scandinavians, and English generally prefer people who are a bit quieter and reserved. It’s best to keep a low profile as a tourist and avoid loud conversations, arguments, and jokes when you’re in a public place.
While Americans have a custom to tip anywhere from 15 to 20% at restaurants and bars, Europe is not that big on tipping. If you’re not sure, ask locals and they will tell you if you should tip and how much. Sometimes, the tip is already included in the check, while other times it’s just not necessary or expected.
Rushing your meals
Many European nations are huge foodies. French and Spaniards love to enjoy different tastes, chat while eating and take their time with meals like anyone else! So, if you happen to find yourself in a full restaurant, make sure to relax and arm yourself with patience. Surely, servers are doing the best they can to serve you quickly, but sometimes it will take you more than two hours to finish your dinner from the time you sit to the time you leave.
South American continent is home to some of the friendliest and most open people, but in order to have a safe and fun trip, make sure to avoid doing these tourist things:
Flushing toilet paper
While rules do vary from place to place, if you want to be safe, avoid flushing toilet paper. You might find this unsanitary, but some places just don’t have good enough plumbing to handle it! If a toilet has a sign that forbids flushing TP, make sure to respect it. You don’t want to cause these expensive and gross problems.
Drinking tap water
While some countries in South America have clean tap water (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay…), but if you’re unsure, make sure to confirm with locals or staff at your hotel. If the water isn’t safe to drink, just know that you can find plenty of bottled water choices in stores for very affordable prices.
Forgetting your first-aid kit
South America is a land of adventure! You can and should try everything from mountain biking and hiking to kayaking and rafting, so don’t be surprised if you end up with a few bruises and cuts. Having a small first-aid kit with you at all times will make things much easier since you won’t have to rush around the jungle or unknown city in search of band-aid or iodine.
Trusting your taxi drivers
While some taxi drivers in South America are super friendly and fair, there are many of them who are not exactly reliable. So, if you have a chance, try to consult the staff at the hotel and ask for the usual costs and travel times. This will help you figure out whether you’re being scammed by your driver. Some South American countries also use Uber, so it’s something to consider.
If you can’t remember all of these handy travel tips and happen to make a mistake, remember to be respectful, humble and apologize. Also, a sincere smile can make any unfortunate situation a bit more pleasant, so remember to smile—after all, you’re on a vacation!