10 Ways To Be a Classy International Traveler September 19, 2016 By Will Sowards Leave a Comment Traveling internationally is exciting, but it also requires a little extra preparation and education. Learning about the region and culture where you’re headed will make you aware of any nuances or practices specific to the area. Increased awareness makes you less of a tourist will lead to more positive interactions. While cultures do vary, it will helps to learn the details. There are some general best practices to follow when going abroad. Americans tend to have a certain negative reputation outside of the United States. But, following these best practices will ensure that you represent yourself and the U.S. well and also enjoy your journey! 10. Respect the authorities. This may come as common sense, but this recommendation is an important one. For example, don’t mistake your interaction with the foreign police as a robbery, as was the case with one of our US Olympic swimmers. Make sure to obey and respect local laws and public property. 9. Avoid any natural inclination to speak loudly. Americans are one of the more loud and boisterous cultures. We are used to having to shout over drinks at a sports bar or while bumping along on public transportation. Resist the urge to yell to your friend on public transportation in other countries. Be aware of your surroundings and match your voice level to them. Maintain quiet tones in synagogues, cathedrals, museums, etc. Remember that speaking louder to those that don’t speak English will not help them understand. You will seem rude and irritating. 8. Dress accordingly and appropriately. A good rule of thumb when choosing your attire is to consider local customs, attitudes, and religious beliefs. You don’t want to offend others or draw attention to yourself as a potential target to thieves. Americans tend to dress more casually than other countries. Consider packing on the conservative side, leaving out your neon yellow tank top. Choose instead muted, neutral hues. Be wary of being too immodest or flashy in your dress or jewelry, especially for that specific region. Sightseeing in Europe requires a different wardrobe selection than spending spring break in Mexico. Be cognizant of your itinerary. If you plan to visit a cathedral or synagogue, make sure your attire is appropriate for a sacred place. Consider leaving typically American apparel at home. This includes items like sports jerseys, college t-shirts, or “I love NY” shirts. 7. Be careful of where you keep your camera. If your camera hangs from your neck as you walk up and down the streets of Spain or markets in Morocco, you brand yourself a tourist immediately and become a potential target for thieves. General travelers should find a small bag that stores their camera or phone, but allows for easy access to snap a few photos when, for example, they find themselves walking toward the Colosseum. 6. Don’t complain. This one should be easy. Focus on the fact that you are on an adventure — seeing new worlds, learning new cultures, and meeting new people. Don’t complain about your meal. Don’t cry aloud that you wish everyone spoke English. Don’t complain that the weather isn’t like back home or that you hate the local smells. Embrace it. 5. Find a good travel bag. Don’t use the typical tourist packs, like backpacks, fanny packs, and money belts. Using any of these items is another way to easily put a target on your back for thieves and make you stand out. Unless you are backpacking, avoid carrying an obvious tourist bag. Instead opt for a comfortable cross body bag or small purse or satchel. These types of bags are also easy to keep close to you and covered while traveling on a crowded train or bus. 4. When in doubt, don’t gesture. Some cultures find gestures with the left hand insulting. Avoid pointing, as many cultures also find pointing offensive. Common American hand gestures, like a thumbs up can have very different meanings elsewhere. In general, it’s better to avoid gesturing altogether. If necessary, motion with your right hand, palm facing up, to indicate direction. 3. Embrace the local eats and don’t drink too much. Don’t go searching for the nearest McDonald’s or pine for Taco Bell. Embrace the local delicacies. Visit outdoor markets or sit down for a cup of locally brewed coffee. You may find something unexpected and delightful. Avoid the inclination to drink more than usual because you’re on vacation. Drinking too much can be dangerous in foreign situations, not to mention unflattering. 2. Don’t go crazy with social media, pop culture, and selfies. Don’t worry about finding wifi at every turn so you can post updates on social media. You can overload all your followers when you get to your lodging for the night. Instead, capture the photos and memories in the moment. It will be fun to think back later when you do post your travel photos. Also, it’s fun to contextualize the places you visit by thinking of movies filmed or set there. But, don’t constantly ask the locals to help you find a specific site from your favorite film. Do the research beforehand and also, come to learn the history of the place itself. 1. Be happy and courteous. You’re traveling abroad! Take everything in with enthusiasm and warmth. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you show enthusiasm for, and interest in the culture, the local people will be much more welcoming. Planning a trip? Don’t forget to visit your local Passport Health to make sure your healthy as you go. Schedule online now or by calling . Do you have any other suggestions to add? 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