This article was published on July 15th, 2018
Traveling is always the best education you can get when it comes to learning about different cultures and lifestyles of people from different places across the globe. These opportunities are an important part of any journey. However, absorbing other people’s traditions and customs must be done respectfully. Respect is key when visiting any new place and taking in the culture. Consider your actions carefully and avoid intruding on other people’s lives using these tips.
A great place to start is by picking up reading material on the place you are visiting before you head to your destination. Familiarize yourself with the laws and customs of the people within the place you are visiting. It doesn’t feel good when your own culture is insulted or questioned. You can avoid offending anyone, for the most part, by being knowledgeable about where you are going.
Know how to act in the country you are visiting to ensure you are respecting their cultures and beliefs, and not ending up in jail. Each country is different. Each religion is different. And it is smart to respect the ways people act with both.
Learn and know the local greeting. You’ll soon find that locals will open up and show you their world if you make the slightest effort to fit in and try out their language or culture. Acquiring this knowledge and remembering it will help you later on in life form connections with people from the area, even after you’ve visited. It’s always fun greeting someone within your own country, visiting from another, and knowing how to approach that person with a little taste of their home.
Keep calm and be patient. Not everyone operates on the Western culture mind frame or concept of time. Losing your cool will only create problems for yourself. Patience will show you are willing to wait and have acceptance for others.
Be sensitive to local cultures. Don’t do actions that are insensitive to a people or place just because that is the way things are done in your state, province, or country. No two regions are the same. Respect that.
Connect with people before taking pictures. You wouldn’t want someone to take pictures of you like an animal at the zoo.
Understand people’s lives and aspirations. Not every country and culture is as embedded in capitalism and possession ownership as you. Understand religion and how to interact, while keeping your personal religious beliefs to yourself, unless asked.
Ask and answer questions. The best way to learn and teach is to listen with intent and then answer with an acknowledgment that no culture is right or wrong.
Dress modestly and neatly. Gay it out in the nightclubs or where appropriate; however, dressing outlandishly can draw unwelcomed attention to yourself and make locals uncomfortable in dealing with you. Be aware of the jurisdiction you are visiting; not all areas accept or tolerate LGBT lifestyles. It could land you in jail, or have severe consequences.
Lastly, use etiquette. A good “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, “hello”, “goodbye”, “nice to meet you”, and “you’re welcome” go an extremely long way when visiting another country and culture. There are plenty of free mobile apps available to help you learn these in local languages.
Do you have any advice for traveling abroad and respecting other cultures?