Planning your trip and travelin is always exctiting. You meet new people, learn about new cultures, and have new expriences. However, there are certain things you must remember in order to make your trip even more perfect. Knowing the proper etiquettes in the new places you travel is extremly important. Not knowing how to properly behave comes off as ignorant and rude to the locals, and may tamper with your experience. Here is a guide of proper etiquettes and maners to make your journey more enjoyable.
It is always nice and polite to say and hear greetings with a smile. Try to learn some basic greetings in the local language and you will find that locals are more welcoming to you.
In some European countries, between friends or family members, they have a special way to greet each other, which is called "bisous". You kiss each other's cheeks 2-3 times depending on the country. However, remember that this is only between close relationships. If you get to know someone while traveling and become friends, don't be surprised when they greet you with a bisou.
In Europe, it is common to greet the shopkeeper and to say goodbye or thank you when leaving.
Also, you will often hear 'thank you' or 'excuse me', 'sorry' in the country's native language when in Europe. Do not hesitate to say thank you when you receive some help from others, and sorry when you cause any trouble or inconvenience to others. You can simply say 'excuse me' when you are trying to get off the metro and there is someone in the way.
When you arrive at the restaurant, and unless there is a sign stating otherwise, you should wait for a waiter to seat you. If you have desired seats, you can mention it to the waiter to see if that request can be fulfilled. Regardless, you should wait at the entrance or in the line at the entrance, and wait to be brought to a seat.
Once you have a seat, you need to wait again until they bring you the menu. If it takes too long, you can ask for the from the waiter when they pass you by.
When you get the menu, decide what to drink first as the waiter takes the drinks order first, and then comes back to take your food order. If you are ready to order your meal as well, you can order them at the same time.
When you have reviewed the menu and are ready to order, close your menu and put it aside, or make eye contact with the waiter and that is how they will know you are ready to order. If you have been waiting for a while you can slightly raise your hand so that they come over to your table.
After you are done eating, you can ask for the bill at the table. Once you are done eating and the waiter is cleaning up your table, they will ask if you would like anything else, and that is when you can mention that you'd like to pay for your order, or for dessert if you'd like some.
Also, remember that it is inappropriate to bring your own food and drinks to restaurants.
Each country has different table manners, and it is important to learn what they are prior to entering a restaurant. France is known to have particularily picky table manners. To start with, you are allowed to rest your hands on the table, but not your elbows. When eating bread, you put it directly on the table, and not on your plate. Your knife goes into your right hand, and the fork into your left. In England, and along with France, it is considered rude if your arm passes over the others' plates. If you need something from across the table, ask the person who is sitting closest to it to pass it down to you.
Some more upscale restaurants will provide you with multiple forks and knives on the table. When eating you start with the outside cutlery, and after each course, move on into until you have used up all the cutlery. Once finished with a course and a set of cutlery, place them on the dishes so they can be removed along with the dirty dishes.
When eating soup or noodles, it is innapropriate to slurp and make any sounds.
If you are sniffling it is better to excuse yourself and use the restroom to blow your nose, rather than sniffling throughout the entirty of the dinner.
Tipping culture varies depending on the country. Nowadays, more and more countries do not have tipping culture anymore, other than leaving a few euros if you've had exceptional service and if you are at a fancier restaurant. Before you travel, check to see if there is a tipping culture, and if they have one, check how much you have to tip generally.
Tip when you have to, but do not overtip. Remember, it is never necessary to tip, despite some restaurants asking you directly for more since they recognize that you are a traveler and can be persuaded easily.
Be careful when making hand gestures. Some hand gestures that are often and commonly used in your country can have negative or rude meanings in other countries.
For example in England, making a V sign with your hand is interpreted as rude. The history is that the French soldiers cut off the index and middle finger of British archers during the Hundred Years’ War. In Italy, it’s not okay to touch your ears towards others.
Most countries have specific hand gestures that are considered rude, so it is best to do your research before traveling in order to not insult any locals
In general, be careful when making hand signals. Some hand signals which are often and commonly used in your country can have alternative meanings in other countries.
Each country and culture has different superstitions, and you may be surprised or nervous when you see someone behaving in a way that you deem superstitious. Superstitions are only myths but it is interesting and very helpful to be aware of them when traveling.
There are some common superstitions that are common all around Europe. Some of them include walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror, and opening an umbrella indoors.
Another common superstition in Europe, and one of the most important when out with friends having a drink together, is to look at each other in the eyes when clinking your drinking glasses. When you clink glasses individually with each person, you should not cross over anyone’s arm either. The myths say that if you fail to look others in the eye when clinking glasses, it will result in bad sex for seven years.
In Spain, instead of Friday the 13th being unlucky, they believe that Tuesday the 13th is the unluckiest day of the year. People of Spain avoid getting married or going on a plane on that day to avoid any bad luck. In the Netherlands, if you have an urge to sing at dinner, wait until after because the locals consider that singing for the devil, which you don’t want to do. In Germany, giving a knife as a gift to a friend symbolizes cutting and ending the friendship. The number 17 is an unlucky number in Italy so you will notice while traveling there that hotels don’t have the 17th floor.
In France, be careful not to knock over the salt as it will bring bad luck. If you accidentally spill salt, you need to toss some of the spilled salt over your left shoulder to avoid any bad luck.
Unlike in most countries, coming across a black cat in England is actually good luck.
In Europe, you will see people looking back when they exit the restaurants or metro gates to hold the door for someone behind them. Remember to hold the door open for others if there is someone is coming right behind you. When someone holds a door open for you, don’t forget to say 'thank you' with a smile.
Dress manners are important especially when you visit religious locations. When you visit religious locations, it is important to wear reverent clothes, and not non-sleeves, shorts, short skirts, or slippers, and be sure to take off your hat indoors. It is always important to respect each culture by dressing appropriately. Remember that despite being tourist attractions, these destinations are important and religious places for the locals.
When you visiting high-end restaurants or theaters, it’s your chance to dress up and that way your evening can be more special.
As a tourist, you always have to respect the locals' lives. As mentioned above in the dress manners, there are certain things you should keep in mind, especially when visiting religious and historical buildings.
Before heading out for the day scan your itinerary and confirm that you are dressed appropriately for all events. Some buildings won’t allow you to enter if you’re not dressed accordingly.
When entering religious buildings there may be restrictions against taking photos. Look around for any signs that impose such restrictions and follow them. If you’re not sure, ask an employee for clarification.
When in religious buildings please be respectful and don’t make loud noises and don’t write on monuments or tourist attractions. There are many other ways to remember your trip and to leave a trace that you have been there is disrespectful and ruins the monument. If you are caught damaging property you could also get a fine.
Finally, do not eat or drink in the attractions, and if you have any food or drink items with you, wait until you are back outside to consume them.
When traveling for a long time, it is normal to start missing the food from your home country. Bringing food into the hotel to eat is fine, just be wary of the smell as not everyone will enjoy it as much as you do. Wait until you are in your room to start eating.
Also, in Europe, most of the houses and hotels don’t have the drainage holes in the bathrooms. They only have them in the shower or bathtub. So always remember to use the shower curtain when taking a shower or bath to avoid water leaking onto the floor.
While traveling you always have the possibility to make new friends, who could invite you over for lunch or for dinner. It is appropriate to arrive with a gift as a way of saying thank you. Normally, a bottle of wine or champagne is a good idea; or you can bring a souvenir from your country if you brought some with you.
You need to remember the dress manners and table manners when you are invited. Show appreciation and respect with the proper dress code and polite table manners.
If you are invited to a restaurant, there are many possibilites to split the bill. You can also bring a small gift of grattitude when going out to a restaurant. If the invitation is for a gathering, there may be an agreement with the others to pay Dutch, or everyone will pay their own share of the bill. If they pay Dutch, you can offer to pay for a round of drinks, or food depending on the location and situtation.
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that each culture is different, and different doesn't mean wrong, it just means that you have to open your mind and learn how others think and live their daily life, even if it's not what you are used to. Venturing to different countries is a great leanring experience and your life will become more enriched if you embrace and learn as much as you can about a new country. If there are some sensitive historical issues or cultural issues, aoid the topics during conversation. Each country has a different food culture, table manners, ways to greet, and lifestyle. Just as we do not want to be offended, do not offend others.