“I am genuinely worried about embarrassing myself and causing further embarrassment to my hosts, when I travel abroad in July – a celebration of finishing my A Levels – yay!! I and a couple of friends intend to visit various destinations, including countries that adhere to strict Muslim rules. Therefore, your help in steering us in the right direction would be much appreciated; when it comes to customs, traditions etc.”
The world is culturally diverse. It is full of a wide variety of experiences that we can access. When it comes to travelling to a different country it is important to be aware of that country’s way of living in terms of culture. As visitors we should be open-minded and respectful and comply with the local cultural norms of a destination. Just think of it as someone entering your home country – you treat their home how you would treat your own – with respect. Here are some of TravelQuest’s cultural requirements to be mindful of when travelling.
1. DRESS CODE
Check before travelling if your clothing is appropriate for your place of travel. Don’t be deceived by Dubai’s glamorous westernised persona, remember it is an Islamic state with traditional values that need to be honoured. For example in Dubai and Marrakech it is essential for the shoulders and knees to be covered in public (swimwear is acceptable by the pool / at the beach). The same is required in Thailand when visiting temples where it is also required for shoes to be removed.
2. PUBLIC BEHAVIOUR
There are numerous factors to consider when travelling in terms of behaving in public. Things we may take for granted in our everyday lives. One example is talking on your phone on public transportation; in Japan this can be considered rude and therefore announcements are conducted which ask for your phones to be put on silent.
Public displays of affection can be a sensitive subject for some cultures, especially in Islamic states due to their religion. Another detail to acknowledge is that showing the soles of your feet can also be considered offensive in countries such as Thailand and Dubai.
During Ramadan those of the Muslim religion fast during the day and in some countries eating and drinking during daylight in public is forbidden (with exceptions). Additionally drinking alcohol in public in some countries is seen as bad-mannered and could leave you with a fine! Another point to mention in regards to alcohol is age limit, check it before you go.
3. TIPPING ETIQUETTE
Tipping isn’t a legal requirement however it is expected in the USA and Canada in most circumstances. This includes restaurants, bars, tour guides, taxi drivers, hairdressers, manicurists and hotel housekeeping – just to name a few!
– Learning a few phrases in the language. Please Keep in Mind… As native English speaking travellers we can not presume everyone speaks our language or feels confident speaking our language.
– Research the culture / religion before visiting.
– If you want to give something to those less fortunate – provide educational gifts.
– Ask permission to take a photograph or video.