These tips will help you defy stereotypes of American travelers and avoid offending locals.
American travelers often get a bad rap around the world for being rude, loud, and gullible. While these stereotypes are in no way representative of the entire American population, many travelers find themselves unsure how to behave in certain countries. No matter where you decide to visit, it’s important to research the local culture and get familiar with the customs of the region before taking off. We’ve asked some travel experts to shed light on the region’s traditions. Here are their tips on how to ensure you don’t offend anyone while traveling.
Many Asian cultures prefer a more modest dress code than many Americans are accustomed to. “In China, low cut blouses and short skirts don’t go over well,” says Stan Godwyn, Master Travel Planner and Asian Destination Specialist at TravelStore.
Be aware of personal space
Pallavi Shah, President and CEO of Our Personal Guest, advises clients to be conscience of personal space and body contact. As a sign of respect, men do not touch women in public in India. It’s also a good idea to allow about an arm-length space between yourself and others.
Don’t be a critic
“If you are invited to a meal in China, it’s likely that there will be more food that you can possibly eat,” says Godwyn. “It’s polite to try everything and very impolite to critique the dishes that you do not like.”
Opt for formality
It is considered rude to greet new acquaintances in Asia by their given (first) names. “Use the English courtesy title (Mr., Mrs., or Miss) and their family name,” says Shah.
Bring a gift
If invited into someone’s home, it’s appropriate to bring a gift for the host. Items from your country are appreciated most, so try to provide something that is made in the United States—think wine or a box of chocolates. Be prepared and pack one or two before traveling.