Visiting a new country unprepared is among the hardest mistakes any traveler can make. Safe journey begins with proper homework – thorough research about country’s customs, habits and unspoken laws, as well as possible tourist traps. it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. After all – a safe journey is going to be much more pleasant and leave you with some good memories to come back to.
Let’s look at some famous tourist destinations and their “country specifics” – things to consider before departing on another (hopefully) safe journey!
Safe journey in Japan
In general, Japanese are quite open to visitors and tolerate other people’s traditions. However, one should remember some unspoken rules and customs and act accordingly.
- Always be respectful to others. Being polite is crucial to being accepted and welcome.
- Don’t speak loudly in public places (buses, trains)
- Always take off your shoes when entering someone’s home. The same goes for shrines, temples and even some restaurants.
- Avoid showing affection in public places. While a quick kiss might be okay, doing it consistently and for a longer period of time will probably offend many people. Nobody will say anything to you though.
- Don’t show anger or accuse anyone – it might be misinterpreted and you will be probably frowned upon.
- Appreciate the food, even if you don’t like it. Asking for a substitution on the menu could be considered offensive.
- Japanese are very tidy, so don’t make a mess!
Tips for USA
During my last trip to the USA I learned quite a few useful tips and tricks how to behave and not stand out. Here are the most important points to remember:
- In the USA, you are expected to leave a tip. Normally it’s 15-20% – depending on the quality of service.
- Try to avoid talking politics as much as you can
- Don’t talk about guns unless you are among good friends
- Don’t make comments about American culture. Yes, there is one and you don’t have to like it.
- Race talks are taboo!
- Almost everyone is driving in the USA. Even though there are metro/subway options in most big cities, most suburbs can only be reached with a car. Walking as a form of commuting is quite uncommon.
- Personal space is quite important in the USA, so keep a distance.
Tips for Italy
- Be specific when ordering coffee in Italy. Most Italians drink espresso. Cafe Latte is called “Latte Macchiato”. By the way – Starbucks doesn’t exist in Italy.
- Italians are quite religious, so be respectful.
- Try to avoid political topics, like mentioning mafia, Berlusconi, or alike.
- Never order pizza or pasta with pineapples or chicken. This is not at all Italian food.
- Forget about speaking with your hands. Some popular hand gestures have offensive meanings in Italy.
- Never ever compare Italian and French products! Italians believe their food is the best in the world.
- Italians are quite bad at English, so be prepared to not being understood.
Tips for Thailand
- Remember to dress appropriately when visiting temples. Long sleeves and long pants are a must.
- Respect religion – do not touch monks, act modestly around images of Buddha.
- Never comment on the king of Thailand and the royal family. Most people love the king.
- Don’t assume that all women walking on streets are prostitutes.
- Before boarding the taxi, always make sure that you know the direction and the driver is using the meter.
- Be careful with taxi and tuk tuk parking in a long line at the side of the street – they will probably take you to tailors, jewellers, or restaurants. Catch the ones passing by instead.
- Most Thai people do not speak English, but are very friendly and helpful.
- Speak quietly in public.
United Arab Emirates
- You are not allowed to take pictures of women and children
- Clothing should be of appropriate length – no exposed body parts (especially for women)
- Avoid kissing and touching your partner in public places. Randomly addressing women in public places is liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.
- Alcohol consumption is only allowed in designate places (licensed restaurants and bars).
- Never refuse to accept whatever is offered to you. It is considered very impolite.
- Respect local elders
- Stay away from local Arab girls, even if they approach you first.
- Never criticize local authorities, be polite with police.
What are your personal tips for these countries?