Now more than ever, when we travel we are ambassadors of our home countries, and every personal encounter teaches others quite a bit about the countries we "represent". The following suggestions will help you get along with your fellow travelers, and they will help bestow a favorable impression of your home country.
1. Whenever asking a local for directions or assistance in your own language, always ask if the person you are asking speaks your language before you proceed. While many people in the tourism industry worldwide speak English, it's impolite to expect someone to speak your language when you are in their country.
2. Learn at least a few choice words of the local language before you travel, especially key words and phrases such as "thank you" and "please". Even the most feeble attempts will be appreciated.
3. Airline Etiquette: Do not use the person's seat in front of you to get up out of your seat. You may disturb someone's who is resting.
4. Be respectful of TSA regulations and TSA employees. Remember that these people are just doing their job to make air travel safer for all of us.
5. Be patient with the speed at which things are done. Don't expect that your standards will be met while away. Relax, you are on vacation. Go with the flow as much as possible.
6. Don't litter. There may not be trash receptacles available in places you may be visiting, such as in areas of Machu Picchu, so be sure to carry out any garbage you bring in.
7. Remember your housekeeper. Leaving a tip in your hotel room during departure is a great way to show your appreciation. It's also a productive way to get rid of any extra foreign currency you may have. Housekeeping staff are often the hardest working yet least visible people that are working hard to make your vacation enjoyable. Because they are not as visible as guides, restaurant staff, or the hotel concierge, travelers often do not think to tip them.
8. Be understanding of cultural differences, and give the benefit of the doubt. When in doubt about a particular gesture, tone, word or meaning ask your guide, a local or simply smile and shrug it off.
9. Be respectful of holy sites, even when its not your chosen faith. This includes wearing the right clothing, abstaining from taking pictures or consuming food when advised, and more.
10. More and more countries are passing non-smoking ordinances in bars, restaurants and public spaces (included some countries you may not expect, such as Italy and Ireland). Pay attention to the rules about smoking in the countries you are visiting.
11. Dress to impress. While the world is becoming more casual in some respects, each part of the world has its own dressing etiquette. For instance, European men would not have been caught dead in shorts outside a beach resort. Now, shorts are acceptable in some places like Rome where they used to be practically forbidden. Whether you like it or not, you will be judged by the way you dress and treated accordingly. Don't take it personally if you find yourself improperly dressed, chances are you will be treated just like a local in the same situation. While locals may be more lenient because you are a tourist, it is better to blend in with local dress customs.
12. Smile a lot. It will get you further in all situations.
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