I have been thinking a lot about the people I have encountered and the things I have seen while traveling. Things that have rubbed me wrong, and also left me feeling wrong for either not speaking up, or not knowing how to express my thoughts.
So I figured I would post them here! I would like to talk about travel/ cultural etiquette.
Tipping is a big one for me. Especially at resorts in other countries. Where I see a lot of people from the US traveling to resorts for vacation, I can understand wanting to relax, but just because you have saved up and worked for this vacation doesn’t mean you can treat the people that are catering to you, poorly. Please understand that we have the luxury and privilege to have minimum wage and get to be paid fair wages.
Most other countries where you are relaxing at a resort do not pay fair wages. Please keep that in mind and always tip, but mostly, treat everyone with kindness.
Bartering— this is a sticky one for me. After traveling in Thailand and Africa, and adventuring through night markets, you will find lots of the same types of trinkets and souvenirs. Keep this in your back pocket- most of the people trying to sell you these trinkets have no other source of income. So when you hassle to pay next to nothing to bring something home to a friend or family member- just keep that in mind. If something is obviously way overpriced (because it too, is easy to be taken advantage of because often times we don’t know the value of something) I think it’s fair to suggest a FAIR price for an item. But I believe we should always consider the conversion rate and understand how far our dollar goes before trying to lower the price of something to an offensive amount. This is their livelihood. Let’s help one another, rather than always be looking out for ourselves.
Thoughtfulness- I try to learn basic sayings in the language of every country I visit. Ie- thank you, please, hello, goodbye etc.
Where that might not seem out of this world, it means a lot to others that you put in some effort, rather than expect everyone to cater to the language you speak.
Religious beliefs and temples- I advise doing a little research on what the cultures beliefs are and what is required when visiting temples. It’s common to have to have shoulders covered and long pants for women. Try to do your best with being respectful of this custom. I’ve also read about it being offensive taking pictures of Buddha, especially if it’s with him behind you in the picture. Temples are even more exciting to visit when you have a better understanding of the practice.
Clothing appropriateness- Back to the previous statement- just do research on what is commonly worn. Especially when visiting sacred grounds, or middle eastern counties. It’s common that you will have to be covered up.
Taking photos of strangers- I personally find this offensive. Just think of it this way: Would you find it odd if someone who clearly looked like they weren’t from where you lived started snapping pictures of you? Would it make you uncomfortable? Keep that in your back pocket.
Politics- Just like when you see your family during the holidays, it’s probably best not to bring up confrontational topics. A lot of countries are not as progressive, nor have the same ethics. No matter how hard it may be, you cannot go to another country and start spatting your beliefs on how things should be different there. I particularly struggle with animal cruelty in other countries. But you have to trust that there are people like you who care about this topic who are residents and are trying to make change.
Always do your research before traveling somewhere new!
Happy wandering! ✨