Learn some phrases or words in the local language.
Let’s face it, many people all over the world speak English, so the incentive is not apparent. However, you will quickly notice how much people appreciate you trying to speak their language. All languages are not created equal, but trying is well worth the effort. Bring a pocket-sized phrase book or, better still, try this free app that features many popular languages.
Do your research on how people dress at your destination.
This is tricky, because you should certainly don your comfortable outfit when possible. Sometimes it’s just the difference between looking like a tourist (I am not talking about that digital camera hanging from your neck) and potentially offending locals. In many Western destinations anything goes, but you will stand out when trotting on the Roman cobblestones in your flip flops and shorts, while all the Romans have layers and layers of clothes and a scarf to prevent any drafts. This helpful article suggests doing an image search of your destination to get an idea of the local dress code.
Find out what the local currency is and what your payment options will be.
American dollars sure do talk in certain overseas destinations, but you may not be doing yourself a favor. If a merchant does accept your dollars, chances are that he gets the better end of the deal. Stay on top of your budget with a currency converter or start typing away in your favorite search engine.
Don’t rate your plate (like you would at home).
Whether it’s the type of food or the portion size, dining overseas will be different. Strive for exploring the local fare and see it as uncovering a small part of culture. Why not try a local specialty when you take a break from sightseeing?
Traveling is all about broadening your horizon. Embrace the differences found elsewhere and learn how to enjoy and appreciate them. The experience that travel gives you will be better than any store-bought souvenir.
As a Dutch American, I am well aware of cultural differences. In my series, Abroad Perspective, I will tackle the challenges of international travel.
How do you represent the USA when vacationing? Feel free to share this or any other cultural shocks with us in the comments below and your idea could be featured in the next blog!