The ability to see the world is a great privilege, but many people do not respect it.
I’ve seen first-hand that too many of us behave badly: We drink too much, do not listen enough and refuse to go beyond our cultural boundaries.
If you have the opportunity to travel, I believe certain guidelines should be followed out of respect for your own nation as well as the nation(s) you are visiting.
Be familiar with your host country. Do research and know some history. Learn a couple of useful phrases such as, “Where is the bathroom?” If the first language of the nation is not English, having prior awareness will enable you to ask good questions. This makes you more knowledgeable while also flattering the natives by showing them you care about their country.
Big Ears, Small Mouth
Traveling is about learning a new culture, not forcing yours upon others. The best way to do this is by listening more than you speak. Keep your complaints to yourself and be eager to learn.
Dress appropriately and limit your drinking. Drunken, public vomiting is unacceptable anywhere, but especially abroad.
Be the “Yes Woman”
Say yes to almost everything. Try all the food. Eat first, ask questions later. Say, “yes” to lowering your cultural barriers. This means kissing strangers on the cheek in Rio de Janeiro and keeping your feet off the seats on the Metro. Say yes to as much as you can, but be safe.
To travel is an honor. To be a worthy traveler, you must think beyond yourself and be in constant consideration of others. Remember these simple guidelines and the world is yours. Bon voyage!