Top Tips for Assuring you are Culturally Respectful when Traveling
1. Do your research before you go
Don’t go into a trip blind. Spend some time getting to know your destination country, by researching and reading up on the history, culture and important facts of the country. Get to know what is culturally acceptable before you leave, so you are ready on arrival. Make sure to also do a bit of digging on what is and is not permitted in each place you intend to visit. If possible, find a local guide that will help take you around.
2. Learn some basic phrases
The best way make friends and influence people when traveling is to have a few basic words in your head to use as you get around town. Know how to say hello, how are you, please and thank you. Better yet, learn a few friendly questions or phrases such as “how is the family” or “your work is beautiful.” To make sure you don’t do anything that may be considered inappropriate, also learn how to say “is it alright if I go here” and “is this ok?”
3. Dress appropriately
One of the most important considerations when heading somewhere new is what clothes you should bring along. In many countries around the world, clothes that reveal too much skin or seem too promiscuous are considered highly inappropriate and even, in some circumstances, illegal. Don’t show up in Saudi Arabia if you are a woman with only shorts and tank tops.
4. Move around with locals
Getting to know locals is the absolute best way to really assure you are being respectful to the country and culture you are visiting. Use public transport, eat at restaurants that are locally owned and packed full of locals, get to know your hotel, hostel, air bnb, campsite, etc. workers and ask their opinions of must do, try, eat, and see things in their country.
5. Buy local, eat local, stay local, use local
Shop at local markets
Buy locally grown and produced foods
Take locally guided cook classes
Do your research and stay in locally owned and operated accomodation
Take some time to observe and appreciate
Ask before you photograph
Think of the destination as home
No slum travel
Understand cultural superstitions, mannerisms and etiquette
And finally... Travel sustainably. Happy travels!