Traveling is a journey with many interesting experiences, helping visitors explore new cultures and see the beautiful natural scenery firsthand. Also by traveling, you can have the chance of showing your own manners and have a cultural exchange. However, because of the difference and diversity in customs and cultures, there are occasional lapses in etiquette sometimes. Therefore, wherever you arrive, there are some essential travel etiquette tips for every tourist to take into account, become a polite visitor and sympathize with the indigenous people.

Vietnamese's warm smile

Vietnamese’s warm smile

How Can We Understand Travel Etiquette?

Travel etiquette is a group of rules and codes to behave or how to do different things in a proper way. These actions or behaviors are accepted by the whole society. In other words, they are guidelines and customs which control the way a person should behave when traveling.

Essential International Travel Etiquette Tips For Every Tourist

1. Learn a few basic dialects

Essential International Travel Etiquette Tips For Every Tourist

A foreign girl talking to a local folk musician in Pushkar

In addition to understanding local customs and culture, visitors should also learn simple dialects such as thank you, hello, goodbye, excuse me, etc. Although English is popular in many countries, learning native language will help visitors gain the sympathy of the indigenous people. Moreover, it will not only make your stay easier, but the locals will also appreciate it. Of course, travelers don’t need to be completely fluent in the local language. It is ideal just to learn a few basic words.

2. Dress accordingly

Some countries are more open-minded with their attire, whereas others are more reserved with their dress code. If you’re going to a conservative country, respect the culture. Dress as close to the locals as you can, both to show them that you respect their dress code, and also for your own safety. Moreover, dressing in discreet outfits that are appropriate for the place you are going to is to show your respect for the culture and customs there.

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Especially, you had better prepare for appropriate outfits if you have a plan to visit religious, spiritual or stately places.

3. Try local food and get enough servings

Banh goi, one of the most famous Vietnamese street specialties

Banh goi, one of the most famous Vietnamese local street specialties

Eating local cuisine is a lovely way to better understand where you are discovering. This will be a quite interesting experience in the travel itinerary of travelers. When coming to a place where you still do not know much about the food information as well as famous local specialties, do not hesitate to ask the people around you. They will be the great “guides” on your cuisine adventure.

Moreover, taking just enough dishes will not only show the courtesy and civilization in the culture of eating, but also help your meal become more delicious. The reason is because your taste buds will have the time needed to rest between dishes.

4. Pay attention to the gestures

Body language is a good way to communicate with other people and belongs to important travel etiquette tips. Even though you have to keep in mind that gestures are interpreted in different ways depending on the country you are traveling to. Silence is always a good idea and you should look for polite words to give the right answer or ask something correctly.

5. Be mindful of where, when and who you take pictures

Essential International Travel Etiquette Tips For Every Tourist

Let’s be a polite photographer and traveler!

When traveling, we all desire to save the best moments of our trip through the photos. With such a wide range of technology and a large number of social media outlets available, everyone is eager to share their experiences with the world. However, you need to keep in mind the following notes:

Firstly, you need to comply with the regulations on photography at some tourist destinations, especially places that prohibit photography.

Secondly, you need to ask for permission before taking a picture of local people, especially photos taken with clear faces. Without their agreements, it will be considered an act of infringing upon the right to protect personal images. Asking for permission before shooting is also a great way to show the respect of visitors to the locals.

Thirdly, in addition to affecting the enjoyment of other visitors, sometimes taking pictures can damage the artwork. Paintings cannot withstand the exposure of light emitted by camera flashes all day for years and years; for this reason, many museums and churches – or specific sections thereof – don’t allow photographs.

6. Adjust your volume accordingly

In every country you visit, make sure that you’re also respectful of the tone. Most importantly, there are always some religious and spiritual sites; these are not the places to make phone calls, to laugh with friends, or to speak loudly.

Noisy and loud noises in public are considered impolite. When traveling, you should only communicate at a moderate level of volume. In the case of having to call for attention or reach someone, you had better give a signal.

7. Keep clean

Taking care of the environment is always a requirement for any tourist. You should put the garbage in the right place and follow the rules on waste classification (especially at tourist sites that require the classification of waste). This is not only a cultural beauty when traveling but it is also a way for tourists to protect their living environment and preserve the destinations that exist with time.

8. Buy local souvenirs, products and bargain appropriately

It is ideal to buy local products as souvenirs when coming back home

It is ideal to buy local products as souvenirs when coming back home

Supporting hand-crafted items made by the locals and purchasing at local shops will help you have a more authentic and closer experience of places you are exploring.

Besides, bargaining is a type of market culture in some countries. It is a win-win method of paying. Not only does it help customers to buy products or services with lower prices, but sellers also earn the profits. Therefore, surely you can bargain; but try to keep it in an appropriate way.

Some places still provide activities such as riding elephants, ostriches or walking lions, etc. as a form of tourism service business. Honestly, those actions are not only very dangerous but also unacceptably cruel to animals. They are harmful for nature and environment as well. While traveling, you must absolutely avoid tourist traps to help promote animal exploitation like that.

10. Tip suitably

Tipping takes various forms, from putting money aside for a staff member who has given you excellent service, to pressing a few dollars into the hands of the doorman who has hailed you a cab. It is appropriate to leave a tip and one of most notable travel etiquette tips. In some European countries, tipping is closely imperative. Knowing what is appropriate in the place you are visiting can have a significant impact on your experience.

Travel Etiquette Tips – Do’s and Don’ts to Stay Safe and Sound


  • Have all your travel documents ready and accessible in all airport lines.
  • Always carry your passport with you all the time.
  • Be polite, gentle, respectful and thankful.
  • Do some research about the places you will be visiting.
  • Respect other cultures and learn about local customs.
  • Be patient and wait for your turn.
  • Respect other people’s personal space.
  • Double-check all travel plans before visiting.


  • Lose your temper.
  • Make comments on politics.
  • Pass items over another person’s head.
  • Touch someone else’s head, cheek, or hair.
  • Point your finger at people.

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Bich Ngoc

As a true Vietnamese enthusiast of music, books and coffee, Bich Ngoc loves researching into those typical cultural characteristics of Vietnam as well as exploring further destinations in the country of thousand years of civilization.


  1. Although this article doesn’t cover every country or take regional differences within a country into consideration, it’s a valuable guide for the countries it does include. It’s especially eye-opening to learn that the very bit of behavior called for in one country is taboo in another–for example cleaning one’s plate in some places implies that one didn’t get enough to eat, whereas leaving food on the plate in other places implies that one didn’t like it. Other tidbits include the length and vigor of a proper handshake and the correct amount of time to be late or early to an engagement. I would recommend this article to anyone going abroad (especially to one of the countries covered).

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I am so glad to know that this article helped provide you with interesting and useful information on travel etiquette tips and ideas. You are right; if considering tourism is art then every tourist is an artist with a mission of creating beauty wherever they visit. Traveling is learning, observing and training – that’s the true experience!

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