To prepare your trip or to travel is always exctiting. You meet new people, new cultures, new expriences. However, there are some certain things you must remember to make your trip even more perfect. Knowing the etiquettes! If you ignore proper etiquettes in each country, you might have encounter some unexpected and embarassing moments. Here are some guides of etiquettes and manners to make your journey more enjoyable.
It is always nice to say and hear greetings with smiles. If you learn some basic greetings in the local language, locals will welcome you more with smile.
In some European countries, between friends or family members, they have a special way to greet each other, which is called Bisous. You kiss on 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 a friend, don't be surprised when they come close to you to do bisous.
In Europe, you can see people saying hi to the shopkeepers and owners when they enter the shops, and say bye or thank you when they leave.
Also, you will often hear 'thank you' or 'excuse me', 'sorry' in their languages in Europe. Do not hesitate to say thank you when you receive some helps from others, and sorry when you cause any trouble or inconvenience to others. You can simply say 'excuse me' when you get off from the bus or metro as well.
When you arrive at the restaurant, you should wait to be seated until the waiter guides you where to sit. If you have any preferred seats, you can mention gently to the waiter, but still, you need to wait in the queue or near the entrance to be seated.
Once you have a seat, you need to wait again until they bring you the menu. If it takes too long time, you can ask for the menu gently when the waiter passes you by.
To order, do not raise your hand or raise your voice to call them. Normally, people put the menu aside so that waiters know that you are ready to order, or have the eye contact with them so that they come to you. When they do not come to you for a long time, you can try to raise your hand a bit, gently again, so that they see you.
When you get the menu, decide what to drink first as they take the order for drinks first. If you are ready to order the dishes too before they come to you to get order, you can order drinks and dishes at the same time as well, but many times, they come to get order for drinks first before you scan the whole menu.
After you enjoy a nice meal, you can ask for the bill at the table. Again when you ask for the bill, you can wait a bit until they bring you the check. Or when they clean up your table, and if you need something else, you can mention that you need a bill.
Also, remember that it is a manner not to bring outside food and drinks to restaurants.
In each country, they have different table manner. Especially France is famous to have quite a picky table manner. For example, in France, you should put your hands on the table during the meal, but not your elbows. Also, in France, you put your bread on the table directly, not on your plate. A knife on the right hand, a fork on the left hand. In England, it is rude if your arm passes over others' plates on the table. Like this, depending on the country, they have different table manners you should know.
There are some common table manners in Europe too. In many fancy local restaurants, you will many forks and knifes on the table. You can use the ones from the outside to inside. When there are many plates, forks and knifes, after each course, you can put the used fork and knife on the used plate so that they take them away before starting the new dishes.
When you have soups or noodles, it is a manner not to make sounds.
In many countries, it is bettter to blow your nose with a piece of tissue paper, than sniffling.
Tipping culture varies depending on the country. Nowadays, more and more countries do not have tipping culture any more, while you tip a bit in some high-end restaurants. Before you travel, check if there is a tipping culture in the country you are traveling, and if they have, check how much you have to tip generally.
Do tipping when you have to, but do not overtip. Some restaurants can ask you directly for tips even when you do not have to, just because you are a traveler, but remember that you do not have to overtip at all.
Be careful when you do some hand signs. Some hand signs which are often and commonly used in your country can have some bad meanings in some other countries.
For example, making a V sign with your hand is interpreted as insulting in England. It is because of a sad history that French soldiers cut off the index finger and middle finger of British archers during the Hundred Years' War. So, don't pose with your index and middle finger facing British people. And it is not okay to touch your ears towards others in Italy.
There are so many hand signs and gestures with different meanings in each country.
Each person or each country has different superstitions, and you will be surprised or nervous when you see someone breaking your taboo. Superstitions are just superstitions, but it is interesting and helpful to know and also to understand their cultures.
There are some common superstitions shared in Europe. Walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella indoors, and so on.
Another common superstition in Europe, and one of the most important thing is to look at each other in their eyes when clinking the glasses. When you clink glasses individually with each person, you should not cross anyone else’s arm as well. They say 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, they believe that Tuesday 13th is the unluckiest day of the year. They don’t want to get married or take a plane on that day to avoid the bad luck.
In the Netherlands, singing at dinner will be considered singing for the devil, which you never want to do.
In Germany, giving a knife as a gift symbolize cutting friendships. Number 17 is an unlucky number in Italy so you can see often that they don’t have 17th floor in the hotels.
In France, be careful not to knock over the salt as it will bring bad luck. When you accidentally spilled salt, the person who spilled it need to toss some of the spilled salt over his left shoulder to avoid the bad luck.
If you want some lucks in England, meet a black cat as they will bring you good luck.
In Europe, you will see people looking back when they exit the restaurants or metro gates to hold the doors for someone behind them. Remember to hold the doors for others if someone is coming right behind you. When someone holds a door for you, do not forget to say 'thank you' with smile.
Dress manners are also important especially when you visit religious places. When you visit religious places, it is important to wear reverent clothes, not non-sleeves, shorts, short skirts, or slippers, and take off hats indoors. It is always important to respect each culture, and dress manners are one of the ways to respect the culture. Remember that they can be the very important and religious places for locals while they are one of the tourist attractions for travelers.
When you visit high-end restaurants or theaters, you can dress up a bit like others do. In that way, you can also feel good and more special.
As a tourist, we should still 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.
Dress manners, wearing reverent clothes, should be kept of course. Scan your itinerary and remember not to wear non-sleeves, shorts, short skirts, or slippers on the day you are planning to visit the religious monuments or buildings. It is considered manners, and furthermore, many religious buildings will not allow you to enter with improper clothes. Men should take off their hats when visiting religious buildings, and it is better when women covered themselves with long-sleeves.
In many of religious buildings, historical monuments or museums, it is not allowed to take photos to protect their heritages. When you see the sign of 'no photo', it means you should not take photo. Please participate in protecting our heritages.
Do not make noise in religious buildings, and never scribble on the historical monuments or at the tourist attractions. There are many other ways to remember your trip and to leave a trace that you have been there. You can also get a fine if you scribble, and scribbling is one of the first things to avoid as a tourist.
Also, do not bring the food inside any tourist attractions. You will not feel happy when you see trashes all around in the nice and beautiful tourist attractions, and so do others. Mind your manners all the time.
Sometimes, you miss home and foods from your country. You might bring some foods from your home so that you can have it when the local food doesn't satisfy you.
However, you need to respect others too. If it is a simple snack, it should be fine, but if you brought some smelly food, do not open it in the hotel room or lobby to respect others. Some people might suffer from the smell of food while you feel happy to enjoy your country's food.
Also, in Europe, in most of the houses and hotels, they do not have the drainage holes in the bathrooms. They only have them in the shower booth or bathtub. So always remember to use the shower curtain when taking a shower or bath to avoid flood to the hotel room.
Sometimes, you make new friends while traveling and get invited to their houses for lunch or dinner. Buy a small gift to bring to appreciate the invitation. A bottle of wine, champagne can be a good idea, or you can bring some special souvenir from your country if you brought some from home.
You need to remember the dress manners and table manners when you are invited. Show the appreciation and respect with the proper dress code and nice table manners.
Or when you are invited to the restaurant, there can be many ways to split the bill. When they wanted to treat you at the restaurant, same as when you are invited to their home, you can bring a small gift for them. If it is more like gathering, they will either go dutch with everyone or split the bill according to what they order. Or, they invite each other in turn. If you are staying long enough in one destination, and someone treated you a meal, you can also invite him or her to another meal to treat them in turn.
Finally, the most important thing. Every culture is different, and difference doesn't mean wrong, thus, respect each culture. If there are some sensitive historical issues or cultural issues, avoid the topics. Each country has different food culture, table manners, ways to greet, and different lifestyles. Just as we do not want to be offended, do not offend others.