Sometimes when traveling, the smallest issues could stump us. Why people behave the way they do in foreign countries – eating habits, lifestyle choices, daily interactions – these can be strange and sometimes frustrating encounters once you aren’t on your own home turf.
Being a culture-savvy traveler isn’t difficult, if you spend some time and effort before leaving home getting to know a little about your destination. Knowing local traditions can enhance your travel experience and give you a more tolerant view on the world.
You might want to consider the four tips below as well.
1) Do your homework. Grab a guidebook or cultural handbook about the country you’ll be traveling to prior to leaving. If you read up on the local culture and customs, you’ll be less shocked once you arrive.
2) Discover the language. Pick up a few basic words like, “Hello” and “Thank you.” This will help you garner good will with everyone you come across. Believe it or not, people appreciate your effort at speaking their language, even if you are butchering it.
3) Be open to new things. Just because it isn’t the way we do it back home doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate method. Keep saying this mantra to yourself especially if you become frustrated about why or how things are being done in a foreign country. One thing which differs widely are ideas about time. In one country, showing up exactly on time might be the norm, during another, lateness is common. Also, there isn’t any harm in trying new foods. If you can open up your palate to items beyond what you’re used to at home, your travel encounters may be enriched. Oftentimes, food is a wonderful gateway into understanding the deeper elements of a culture, so trying out the local cuisine is the least you can do!
4) Smile. If there is one thing which works miracles in breaking down cultural obstacles, it is a simple smile. Smiling is known to be a form of expression common to all human beings regardless of their cultural backgrounds. If you think you’ve offended someone or are totally frustrated by a situation, smiling can often go a long ways toward earning good will.