When travelling abroad, it can be challenging to be aware of all the different cultures you might experience. Stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy, but in doing this you will learn some amazing things, such as new lifestyles and social cultures. In this post, we’re going to explain some key cultural aspects you should be aware of when travelling.
It’s always good to have a basic understanding of the native language of the country you’re visiting, even if it’s simply a “hello” or “goodbye” or “how are you”, it shows that you care and respect the countries culture and are happy to be in their company. This is especially important if you are away on business, if you are meeting a group of people then they will appreciate the time you have taken to study their language and show respect. You do not have to be fluent of course, but adopting a new language can also help you achieve a new perspective and broaden your horizons.
Learn rules and behaviours
The place you are visiting could potentially have certain laws or rules regarding photography, curfews, expressions, etc. So, it’s always useful to learn these before you travel. In a lot of cultures, some habits you practice at home could be less acceptable and create issues, certain rules you may encounter could be related to drinking alcohol in public, smoking, or not taking photos of certain monuments, just to name a few. Making sure your behaviour isn’t offending anyone is always a good start!
When travelling in different countries it’s important to dress conservatively, or in the local norm. In certain countries exposing some parts of the body can be considered offensive, for example in Muslim countries the back of the neck is considered quite provocative, and they generally practice a modest dress code. Researching the attire of the city and country you’re visiting can prove to be quite important, and again will show you are aware of their culture and respect it.
Different gestures can mean different things in most cultures, for example in the United Kingdom a thumbs up would mean “good” however in the Middle East, this is considered extremely offensive. Another example is in Greece nodding your head upwards means “no” and leaning your head to the side means “yes”. The right gesture can be a key point of first contact, so it’s always helpful to know the right ones to practice before you travel.