Maybe it's because I'm a Libra and can see both sides to everything, but for some reason, I'm always the go-to-girl for advice. Instead of just providing my services to my friends and family, I've decided to help you as well. Every month I take readers' questions on any and every topic--see past topics here. Email, Tweet, or comment me and I'll give my advice, via blog or confidentially.
Sometimes the best conversations happen in the car--does this happen to you as well? Over the weekend, a friend and I started discussing different cultures. She recalled the old cliche that the French dislike Americans. I told her I had never encountered this and proceeded to give her some of my traveling etiquette tips. While I'm proud of my country, I really try hard to blend in when traveling, and am usually successful at doing so. Listed below are just a few tips, as this is not a complete list. My desire here is to inform and not overwhelm. Have fun and enjoy!
- Dress the part: Thanks to Applied Glamour, I was reminded about putting forth an effort to look nice when traveling, so not as to stick out as a traveler. This, of course, is personal preference and depends on the activity (while hiking through Costa Rica, style was the last thing on my mind).
- Personal Space: In America, we like to have a bit of personal space. I've found in other countries this isn't always the case. People aren't trying to intimidate; it's just the norm. Pushing & shoving can be common place too.
- Greetings: Also, in America, tend to shake hands when meeting someone (unless in the South, where we seem to hug when greeting just about anyone). In Europe, generally speaking, there's usually double-kissing (this depends on the country). I wait for the other person to make the first move though, just in case they start off with a handshake. And while visiting Switzerland, I found they kiss THREE times (unless I was totally duped).
- Affections: It's very normal to see lots of embracing, kissing, hand-holding, walking arm-in-arm between friends, even those of the same gender.
- Shopping: In other countries, the "mom & pop" store phenomenon is still actively present. Instead of just walking in and browsing, be sure to make contact and greet the owner.
- Language: Even if you aren't a linguistics nerd like me, learning some very basic phrases of the native language is so helpful. A simple greeting is respectful and appreciated. Make sure you do this with those you encounter, like store owners, store workers, and waitstaff. Once the greetings have been exchanged, then you can ask for, "English, please."
- English: Don't assume everyone knows English. Many, many do, but don't assume.
- Conversation etiquette: In America, we tend to ask the person we are speaking to about his/her occupation. Many countries consider this crass--the same thing goes for money-talk.
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