10 rules to live by while on the road for every traveler
Golden Rules When Traveling. Even when you are in a completely new place or destination, that doesn’t mean you are free of following customs and etiquette. In fact, it is even more important to follow the customs of the land that you are traveling to!
Customs, norms and traditions may vary from culture to culture, but here are some 10 Travel Etiquette rules to live by for every millennial traveler. Enjoy!
Rule 1 – Respect the driver’s playlist
Out on a joyride? I am almost always the driver in these trips, so I love this rule: respect the driver’s playlist!
The driver’s playlist trumps above everyone’s music requests. The driver is already doing the work of driving everyone to your destination, the least you can do is to respect that driver will be radio overlord (unless he or she voluntarily concedes).
Rule 2 – Stand right, walk left (or vice versa, depending on the country)
Not every culture love to ‘take their time’. You might be on holiday, but most people in the public commuter are not. So please know the basic escalator etiquette. Know the rule of which side to stand and which side to walk for escalators. Don’t block and loiter around walkways.
Interestingly, there has been a lot of campaigns from around the world that promotes the ‘No Walk’ campaign, promoting pedestrians to remain stationary for safety reasons. The campaigns have been generally unsuccessful however, so best know the rules in escalator etiquette:
Places that stand right, walk left: Osaka, US, China, London, France, New Zealand, Canada
Places that stand left, walk right: Tokyo, Australia, Singapore
Rule 3 – Don’t take photograph people without their consideration
Don’t treat the local people like tourist attractions, treat them like people. There’s a fine line when it comes to taking photos of them rudely. Of course, culture plays a huge rule. There are some cultures who are completely fine being on cameras and will even volunteer their smiles freely (such as my own country, Philippines). There are also cultures who are super private and prefer not to have their photos taken.
Of course, you don’t need to seek permission for every person you want to take photos of. If they are just passers-by or random photos, there are instances where you don’t need to seek permission. But if the person is the main subject, it is best to ask.
Generally, you don’t need to ‘pay’ people for taking photos. The rules here are very blurry but if you insist, try to give little gifts to people you encounter along the way–postcards, snacks, small tokens or anything that aren’t necessarily considered payments.
Rule 4 – Be mindful of outfit choices
Be mindful that some cultures are more conservative than others. Otherwise, showing bare skin could cause some unwanted attention; or you could be refused entry to temples and other landmarks.
Sure, you may be a tourist, but do your research and dress appropriately according to cultural norms, accepted behavior and weather.
When you’re in the conservative Middle East and other muslim countries, avoid shorts, mini skirts, sleeveless tops, and sometimes even capri pants. Avoid revealing and plunging necklines.
Some find bare shoulders even inappropriate, and some extremely conservative cultures also discourage showing your toes. Thus, do your research beforehand.
Rule 5 – Greet people in their local language
At least make the effort to learn the local language basic words. Conversing in their language instantly connects you to people. I always try to greet and thank locals in their own language, no matter how bad my accent is. It is often received with a warm smile and a pat on the back for effort.
Also, don’t assume that everyone can and will speak English. Just because they can’t speak English, doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. This is a totally false misconception that I really want to dispute. I’ve had a lot of meaningful, deep and beautiful conversations with many non-English speakers!
Rule 6 – Leave no trace
Take only pictures, leave only footprints.
When you go hiking, picnics, or other outdoor activities, please leave no trace and take your trash with you. Respect wildlife, minimize campfire use, and leave what you find in nature.
Read on for more tips on How to Travel Green: Responsible and Sustainable Travel
Rule 7- Leave no trace (in fast food chains and food courts)
Unless it’s a proper restaurant, there are normally bins everywhere where you can throw your trash after meals. We are often spoiled that someone takes our trash in fast food chains and food courts, but in many countries, you are expected to clean after and throw your trash afterwards.
Rule 8 – Buy from local vendors
Even if you don’t need it, buy from local vendors and peddlers. Your purchase could help them buy for their family’s dinner. They are the ones not begging or resorting to illegal means for livelihood.
If I’m traveling in a developing country, I would rather buy fruit or snacks from the local vendors than from a big supermarket chain; as the former might need my hard-earned money than a big multinational corporation.
Rule 9 – Modulate your voice accordingly
We get that communicating is integral to travelers and their group. But no one ever likes that obnoxious individual who speaks in his phone or with his friends for the whole train to hear. There is a certain level of agreeableness where you can communicate with your peers and when you can include everyone in the room in the conversation.
Rule 10 – Look before you recline your seat
Practice basic airplane etiquette, too. Some people think it’s rude to recline your seat, but my rule is just to check with the person behind first. At least give them ample time to move their drink or pause their writing when you recline.
More on General Travel Tips and Guides
- Travel Etiquette: Rules to Live ByGolden Rules When Traveling. 10 rules to live by while on the road for every traveler
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- 10 Moments of Reverse Culture Shock in the PhilippinesWhat happens when you lived overseas for a while and come back to your home country? Here are 10 Reverse Culture Shock in the Philippines
- Is Indonesia ‘Just Like the Philippines’?Is Indonesia like the Philippines? Indonesia, a neighboring archipelago with 13,000 islands, is a lot like us in more ways than one.
- What to Expect: Flying as Million MilerWhat it is like to fly as a million miler and to let you decide whether it is worth it to rack up those miles and get to that status?
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