If you are planning to travel anywhere in the world it is very important to know about the rules and regulations about the place you are going to. Many travelers find out the hard way about what gestures are appropriate, what fashion choices will get you into trouble, what the legal age for drinking is, what you can freely talk about and what you can’t talk about without offending people.
Culture is something many of us ignore when we travel overseas or even make friends with people from different backgrounds. It may be polite in your culture to look someone in the eye when you talk to them, it may be normal to call someone older than you by the first name, it may be normal to give someone a kiss on the cheek when you meet them for the first time.
Even a simple decision like wearing a two piece bikini could lead to unwanted attention and excessive staring at popular beach destinations like Dubai or Goa
However those ‘normal’ decisions that you just made will cause a great deal of offense in many different parts of the world. People may make decisions about you and dismiss you as untrustworthy, disrespectful or completely inappropriate. These decisions have been made based on what you considered to be normal behavior.
A ready reckoner is needed for travelers and business people – a place to find information on customs, traditions, laws, non verbal cues, religion and even superstitions from the most popular destinations in the world. A cultural reference is required to help people improve their intercultural communication, avoid offending others or worse, break the law in another country.
This information is absolutely essential for anyone who is about to travel overseas or has friends from different cultural backgrounds. Making a gesture which means ‘great’ in your country could be a swearing gesture in another country. Learning how not to offend people and make informed decisions will help you to win friends and impress people.
In a country like Singapore you could be fined for littering, whilst you can criticize the government in western countries like Australia and America, doing so in Asian or Middle Eastern countries could be a real faux pas which could offend people and even get you in trouble with the authorities. People have served jail time for criticizing heads of states in other countries even in an informal context.
Business travelers also must know the customs, traditions and ways of approaching business before they board a plane. Armed with the right knowledge can lead to lucrative business deals and an enhanced reputation. However simple errors could cost you your business deal and your reputation. Knowing whether to pass documents with the right or left hand or whether to discuss business over dinner or not could make a significant difference to your overall success.