19 Feb Rules for Intentional Travel: Be Respectful
Simple enough. Be polite, show reverence to elders, be gentle around children, say please and thank you. Learn etiquette rules so you don’t go around offending people by pointing with the wrong appendage or cursing unknowingly. In much of Southeast Asia, it’s rude to touch other people’s heads because they have long-held beliefs about the crown of the body being sacred. And in many places, monks follow strict rules about contact with the opposite sex.
I repeat once again: think about it from the perspective of others! Maybe you don’t understand the basis for some cultural norm, but you’ve still got to follow it or your going to look like an insensitive jerk. Here in the U.S., we might not take too kindly to being cut in line, even if it’s by a foreigner who isn’t used to that kind of practice.
Can’t quite figure out what’s wrong or right? (There are dozens of places to find that info with a quick Google search for most countries’ etiquette standards, and most guidebooks have a section with this info.) Here, the old adage “When in Rome…” applies. Did everyone take their shoes off at the door? Off with your boots! Has everyone in the restaurant left a tip? Give a little extra! Not all these practices and customs are obvious, but being observant and asking questions can’t ever hurt.
What surprising cultural customs have you encountered abroad? Have you ever committed a cultural faux pas on accident? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Stay tuned for more great stories and reflections as Ingrid digs deeper into more of the Simple Rules for Intentional Travel.
About Ingrid: Ingrid is a wanderlust at heart. She’s lived all up and down the west coast, studying environmental science and Spanish at the University of Portland and studying how to grow vegetables in Colorado and Washington. Her favorite activities include rock climbing, eating ice cream, and writing letters. Her travels have taken her from the Caribbean to East Asia and many destinations inbetween. The next places she hopes to travel to are New Zealand, Japan, and Norway.
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