Travel Etiquette: 26 Tips on How to Behave Abroad

The Do's and Don'ts When Travelling

travel tips on how to behave abroad

  1. Always remember that you are a representative of your country.
  2. Always respect the customs of other countries.
  3. Understand and abide by all laws.

    Travel Etiquette
    Chewing gum in Singapore has been illegal since 1992
      photo by Cory Doctorow/ CC by

  4. Don’t expect special treatment just because you’re a foreigner.
  5. Remember, in some countries public displays of affection are taboo.
  6. Learn how to say basic phrases and greetings in the native tongue.

    Travel Tips on How to Behave Abroad
    the locals appreciate it if you try to speak their language, even if it's a simple greeting
      photo by Gino Mempin/ CC by 

  7. Don’t shout if someone cannot understand you.
  8. If hand signals cannot penetrate the language barrier, draw a picture.
  9. Use caution when displaying hand signals. For example, in the Middle East, the thumbs up sign is an obscene gesture.
  10. If English is not widely spoken, carry a map and phrase book.

    Travel Tips on How to Behave Abroad
    a map is a vital tool when asking for directions
      photo by Richard Yeh / WNYC/ CC by

  11. Forget attempting not to look like a tourist.
  12. Be aware of those around you.
  13. Don’t be overly paranoid. Don’t be too secure either.
  14. Trust your instincts.
  15. Always look both sides of the street when crossing. Not all countries drive on the right-hand side of the road.

    Travel Tips on How to Behave Abroad
    countries like Japan and Australia drive on the left side of the road
      photo by Lars Plougmann/ CC by

  16. Always be discreet with your money. Don’t be flashy.
  17. When negotiating, be assertive but not aggressive.
  18. Tip accordingly. 

  19. If they don’t know what a restroom is, try bathroom, washroom, lavatory, watercloset or toilet.
  20. Use caution when taking pictures of strangers, especially guards, religious people or government officials.

    Travel Tips on How to Behave Abroad
    ask permission whenever you plan to take someone's photo
      photo by Roberto Trombetta/ CC by

  21. Dress appropriately. In some countries showing the bottom of your foot can be a tremendous insult.
  22. Always practice good hygiene. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can look like a slob.
  23. A positive attitude is the most important element in successful travel.
  24. The best form of communication, worldwide, is a smile.

    Travel Tips on How to Behave Abroad
    a smile is the same in every language
      photo by sandeepachetan/ CC by

  25.  Leave sex on the beach at the bar; it's a drink not an activity.
  26. When in Rome...well, you know the rest.
  27. “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

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