Did you know that in Quebec, kissing on the check is a common greeting? Or that it’s considered impolite to cross your legs or stretch them out in front of you in South Korea?
Traveling internationally presents a lot of wonderful opportunities to learn about new places, people, and cultures, but it also often means a different set of etiquette rules. So whether you (or your executive) are traveling internationally, be aware of and try to follow these guidelines to stay on the right side of polite and get the most out of the trip.
1. Do your research. Before you depart, research the places you want to see, things you want to do, places you want to eat, etc. Regardless of whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, it pays to figure these things out beforehand. Check travel websites, read books, ask friends for referrals, and poll people on social media.
2. Manage your expectations. When it comes to international travel, one of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that everything will be or should be the same as it is in their home country. Part of traveling abroad – whether it’s for business or pleasure – is learning from the new culture and experience. And it’s impossible to do that if you expect things to be exactly the same as they are at home. Be prepared to make some concessions and adjust when things are different. Taste the food, use public transportation, and talk to locals – all of these things will give you a better perspective on your destination.
3. Don’t complain. If you get to your destination and something doesn’t meet your expectations, try not to complain about it. Doing so will only make your host feel bad. It’s fine to say something if you have a serious health concern, but otherwise be sensible about articulating your discomforts.
4. Be aware of health concerns & conditions. Foreign travel often requires vaccinations or medications, so visit a travel physician before you go. Also, be aware of climate and geographical issues that could impact your health, such as elevation, drinking water quality, temperature, and humidity.
5. Wear the proper clothing and attire. If you want to be treated with respect by the locals when you’re at a business meeting, sightseeing, or eating at a restaurant, dress respectfully. Also make sure to abide by local dress codes and customs and smile – it’s a universal sign of politeness.
6. Brush up on your language skills. Learn some key phrases in the language of the country where you’re traveling. Knowing how to ask where the bathroom is and whether someone speaks English can be extremely helpful, and it shows that you’re making an effort. There are also several apps that can help you translate if you don’t know the language.
Proper international travel etiquette isn’t hard – it just requires some planning and thoughtfulness. Follow these guidelines, and when in doubt, don’t do, wear, or say something you think could be offensive. And remember, politeness is universal — no matter what language you speak or from what country you come.
© 2015 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.