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Travel Etiquette tips

When planning any trip abroad, it’s important to ensure you understand the country’s expectations of visitors to avoid offending the locals or your hosts. Although you may be planning to visit a popular tourist destination, certain behavior considered acceptable at home may not be as easily tolerated abroad. Follow this simple guide to a few countries and the best tips for appropriate etiquette.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a popular business destination, with many businessmen and women traveling there for meetings and conferences. Whilst a business environment will be very different from a holiday environment, it is important to understand the appropriate etiquette for meeting and greeting your hosts.

When greeting your hosts, it is important to make eye contact and offer a light handshake with members of the same sex. It is not normally considered appropriate for men and women to greet each other in public. In Saudi Arabia, it is custom to greet each member of the group individually, often exchanging a few words of greeting or small talk and again, remember to make eye contact because this adds comfort and intimacy to the conversation.shaking hands

You may find that Saudis are accustomed to standing close to each other and touching arms or shoulders during conversation. Though this may be considered too intimate in some Western societies, try not to draw back as this may appear rude.

Other things to remember:

Saudi Arabia is a strongly Islamic society with some strict rules and expectations regarding dress. Do not wear revealing clothes and try to keep shoulders and knees covered. Women are advised to carry a headscarf.

Men and women are expected to socialize only in their same-sex groups and it is deemed improper for women to travel alone without a male escort.

India

India has a different approach to meeting and greeting. Unlike to close touching of Saudis, many Indians prefer to hold their own hands together and nod or bow. India also has a caste system in which those of a higher caste are expected to behave differently to those belonging to a lower caste.India Taj Mahal

If invited to a family home, it is polite to take a small gift such as flowers or sweets. Greet your hosts with a smile, eye contact and a slight bow, perhaps whilst saying the common “Na mastay”, meaning “I bow to the divinity within you”.

Other things to remember:

Though revealing dress is not prohibited, it may arouse certain amounts of curiosity among locals who would expect that those of a higher caste would wear more clothing than those of a lower caste. It is recommended that women visiting India should wear long trousers or skirts with shoulders covered.

Thailand

Thailand is a popular holiday destination, partly due to the country’s natural beauty and the friendly, approachable nature of the locals. The key to proper etiquette in Thailand is to keep calm and avoid confrontation. When greeted, remember to smile and make eye contact to match the friendly atmosphere.

During conversation, it is considered highly offensive to criticize the King who is highly regarding among Thai locals. Though it is unlikely to come up in conversation, it is advisable to take precaution as it has been known for people to be imprisoned for disrespecting the royal family.

Other things to remember:

Buddhist monkIn some areas, you may see Buddhist monks. It is important to remember that monks lives are dedicated to Buddha and are separated from the rest of the world. For this reason, it is not worth trying to interact with monks and it would be rude to try to take their photograph without permission.

Before you travel to any country, do some thorough research on the area. Whilst you will find that most tourist areas and beach resorts will be more relaxed and tolerant of visitors’ behavior, it is always best to understand the appropriate etiquette to avoid causing offense.

Featured images:

Victoria likes to travel in her spare time and has learned a lot about travel etiquette. She shares her tips with a cheap glasses retailer, Direct Sight.

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