Five Cultural Considerations When Traveling

Culturally Considerate Travel | OneTravel

 

 

For the past several months, I have been traveling through places where I've had to do things I wouldn't normally in order to abide by the local customs.  I've eaten food, questionable food, I definitely wouldn't have touched otherwise. I've downed beverages that would normally make me gag and I have donned clothing that made me nearly overheat.

 

I did these things so that I would not be considered rude by the locals.  Have you ever thought that what you might be doing while traveling could even be considered rude?

 

Many haven't because, let's face it, they are just being themselves.  However, it is important to take a few minutes to learn the local customs before traveling so that distinctions and adjustments can be made.

 

Here are a few of the areas where cultural understanding is important while traveling:

 

Food and Drink

The traditions of some countries are to always accept food and drink when offered to you. While the Western world generally allows the refusal of food and drink, this sort of behavior can be seen as disrespectful to others.

 

In Kyrgyzstan, for example, I had already tried the infamous fermented mare's milk drink, kumis, in the past, and I knew that it was a sour, acquired taste. Still, when each family in the yurt offered me a glass, I had to sip, at least touch that liquid to my tongue, or they would not be happy.  Painful? Yes. But it was definitely nice to leave knowing I had been a good foreign guest.

 

Clothing

If traveling in conservative countries, it is best to avoid short shorts and skirts and tank tops, and instead opt for light long-sleeved shirts and pants.

 

When visiting a mosque in Russia, it was important to bring a scarf in my daypack to cover my head before entering. Though this made the visit very hot and uncomfortable, it allowed me to see a beautiful place without offending the locals.

 

Bargaining

The standard practice when in markets and bazaars around the world is to bargain. It is necessary for foreigners to partake in this practice to avoid getting ripped off, and even though it might seem strange at first, it is normal for the locals.

 

But don’t get carried away!  While the markets or bazaars call for this, some shops will take quick offense if you try to negotiate a price and perhaps even kick you out completely!

 

Language

If there is just one thing you learn to say in another language, “thank you” should be at the top of the list. (Learn how to say “thank you” in 58 languages.)  It's a common courtesy that can go a long way when trying to show a local that you appreciate the service or help that has been offered.

 

In addition to this, I would recommend researching whether there are formal and informal ways of greeting and speaking. That way, you can always address new acquaintances, friends, elders or people of rank in a non-offensive manner.

 

Gender Roles

Research gender roles before traveling, especially if you're a female!  Gender roles are clearly defined in other cultures, so in order to not do something crass, realize and accept the differences if you want to be a respectful traveler.  Don't be the female that wears the mini-skirt in a Muslim country.  Don't be the guy that doesn't take the vodka shot with the Russians.  Just saying.

 

Can you think of any other areas where cultural considerations might be necessary during your travels?

 

Follow us on Twitter for more travel tips! 

 

Post your Comments












Book with OneTravel

  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Cars
From:
To:
Click here for calendar
Time:
Click here for calendar
Time:
Adults:
Seniors: (65+)
Children:(2-11)
Infants on lap:
Infants on seat:
Class:
Save on Bookings with 3+ pax
or hotel stays of 3+ nights
this month withSM25

RecentPosts

  • An Unusual Cup of Joe: 4 Unique Coffee Shops To Get Your Caffeine FixComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0


  • By:Suzy Guese, last post 20 Oct 2014
  • From coffee houses that are part bicycle shop to those that infuse their coffee with Coca-Cola or shut off the Wi-Fi, here are four unique coffee shops across the country to get your caffeine fix....read more

  • Follow Scotland's Historic Malt Whisky TrailComments: 1Rating: 0 / 0

    1
  • By:Chris Osburn, last post 17 Oct 2014
  • The world famous and one of a kind Malt Whisky Trail in Scotland passes through seven Speyside working distilleries, as well as a historic distillery and Britain's only cooperage. Though hardly inclusive of the numerous distilleries in the Speyside area, the trailserves as an excellent spine through the region. Indeed, any visit to all of the venues along this stretch of green Scottish countryside would result in plenty of knowledge about a Scottish and a wealth of memories....read more

  • Spotlight on Spain: FlamencoComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0


  • By:Jen Westmoreland Bouchard, last post 16 Oct 2014
  • One of my most memorable evenings in another country was the one I spent in a flamenco club in Granada. Everything about the performance captivated me, from the intricate guitar melodies to the expressive vocalizations to the precise hand movements and declarative stomps of the dancers. Flamenco is an extremely rich and captivating part of Spanish culture....read more

  • Stay, See, Savor: 24 Hours in AustinComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0


  • By:Jen Westmoreland Bouchard, last post 15 Oct 2014
  • A dynamic and eclectic city that is steeped in history, Austin is one of the true gems of Texas. You’ll definitely want to spend more than twenty-four hours here, but if that’s all you’ve got, here are my suggestions for where to stay, what to see, and what to savor....read more

  • 5 Big Exhibitions in London NowComments: 1Rating: 0 / 0

    1
  • By:Chris Osburn, last post 14 Oct 2014
  • This week sees the annual Frieze Art Fair descend upon London. With it comes a scope of art related activities and satellite events across town with some of London's best known galleries taking advantage of this time of heightened buzz to put on their biggest shows of the year. Here's a list of five of the biggest exhibitions around town that are on now and well worth checking out....read more