Being culturally responsible when holidaying abroad

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Last Updated on January 1, 2016 by Dani

Not every country in the world is the same in terms of daily life, culture, religion, food, and language. This is what makes visiting a new and exciting country all the more fun, right?

Whilst it’s good to travel to different places, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the differences in culture, so you can be aware of it, be respectful towards it, and have an uneventful holiday. A lot of the time it comes down to common sense, but all too often when people go on holiday, common sense gets left at the departure gate!

mexico city airport

If you’re calm, collected, and well organized before you go away, you’ll be in a better position to have your eyes truly open to the wonderful cultural differences of the places you’re visiting. Staying organized is always the best way to start a holiday, and I always head online before I leave the house to check my flight with a flight tracker, and all the up to date information I need on my flight. If you’re facing a delay, at least you know about it in advance, and you’re not rocking up to the check in desk to be hit with the news.

plane over mexico

It also pays to do some research about your destination before you leave too, because like we discussed before, some places do differ. For example, if you’re heading to somewhere in the Middle East, maybe Dubai or Abu Dhabi for example, you need to be aware of the basic etiquette rules that comes with visiting a place so diverse and different. It’s a bit of a far-fetched example, but we’ve all read a story at some stage about a couple who visited such and such a place, kissed in public, but weren’t aware this was against the law. Granted, places that are geared up for tourism aren’t going to be too strict on such rules, but if you’re heading off the beaten track, you do need to be aware of such things.

kannur camel at sunset

On a recent trip to Istanbul I visited The Blue Mosque, and I made sure I googled a bit of information on mosque etiquette beforehand, because otherwise I wouldn’t have known that I had to cover my head, remove my shoes, and cover my legs adequately. It sounds like common sense, I know, but if it’s not something you do on a daily basis, you might not be aware. See, research is the way forward! Make sure to look up some articles on travel etiquette before your next trip.

georgetown penang mosque at dusk

Wherever you visit in the world, being culturally respectful often comes down to manners. You wouldn’t like it if someone walked around outside your house half naked, so don’t walk the streets of a Middle Eastern country in just your bikini, be respectful of religion especially, and try and keep the noise down at night, especially if your hotel is in a residential area.

indians on the beach

Its basic respect and common sense at the end of the day, something we all have.


  1. It definitely pays to do research. And, I agree, one should always be respectful of other cultures. I just moved to Indonesia a couple of weeks ago and it’s definitely a culture shock. For example, there’s a huge pool at my apartment complex but I have yet to go for a swim. Since Indonesia is a Muslim country I realize that sporting a bikini is probably not going to fly here. And no one curses here. Not that I go around cursing all the time, but I have to be mindful of what I say to people.

    1. Oh, I hope you’ll be still there when I get there (hopefully this winter!) I remember how awkward I felt wearing a bikini on Langkawi, an island off the coast of Malaysia, also a Muslim country. But everybody was wearing a bikini there, so I did it too… in India I remember being at some beaches though where all the women were completely dressed, and I wouldn’t have dared to sport a bikini there.

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