10 Things to Never Do While Traveling: Student Etiquette on the Road and Abroad
An interview with Katie Thompson, Marketing Manager for The Group Company
Much effort goes into planning student group trips. With this in mind, Teach & Travel looks at the role of etiquette in successful student travel.
Why is travel etiquette important?
We sometimes overlook the importance of etiquette. Whether you venture to a new state or a continent thousands of miles away, student minds are opening to new experiences and cultures. Travel may be unsettling for students who let worries get the better of them, yet fearing change is human nature. Most often, the destination is as friendly, safe and accommodating as back home. It’s simply a case of changing your students’ mindset.
As travelers, acting as ambassadors for your homeland and representing your school or organization, you don’t want to create a wrong impression. Preparing students for new cultures, climates and customs helps minimize the risk of needlessly negative reactions in their new environment.
How could etiquette make or break an experience?
Thankfully, fear of the unknown is easy enough to overcome. Do your homework, so students are prepared for the best possible outcome. Having students stick to these travel etiquette tips will give them a fuller experience, truly immersing them like locals and broadening their horizons.
10 Things to Never Do While Traveling
1. Don’t shout at airline staff! Start with the journey itself. They say you can judge a person by how they treat wait staff. The same applies for airline workers, whose job is to make your journey as simple as possible. Take a deep breath if things do go wrong; you’ll have a much better journey.
2. Don’t make life difficult for others.
Acting up at airports, carrying excessive luggage, making others wait while you shop, or other selfish behavior won’t do you any favors. It’s particularly true of group travel: Nobody wants to miss the airport bus because you were in duty free.
3. Don’t travel without sufficient currency.
There’s nothing worse than having no cash for a tip, train ticket or other cash-only situation. Withdrawing cash from ATMs is often expensive, as can be currency exchanges if paying by card. Play it safe: Allow for “more than enough.”
4. Don’t belittle others’ level of understanding.
Perhaps you’re fluent in Spanish or know London like the back of your hand. Others don’t. Accept that people in your group may not be as knowledgeable about certain cultures as you. Likewise, be respectful if they know more.
5. Don’t ignore your group leader.
Traveling as a group? Don’t run off from the leader of the pack! Your safety is the leader’s responsibility. The last thing they want is a group member lost in an unfamiliar destination. Respect that what they say goes.
6. Don’t disrespect the culture.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If covering your shoulders and knees is the custom, do so. Ignoring cultural norms will tarnish your reputation and could land you in an awkward spot—or trouble with the law.
7. Don’t break the rules.
Great news: If you’ve learned a little lingo, you’re blending in. But have you looked up the laws of the land? For example, nonprescription gum is illegal in Singapore. Don’t get caught chewing.
8. Don’t ignore local businesses.
It might be tempting to visit a chain burger restaurant, like most tourists. Supporting local businesses contributes to the economy and lets you try authentic tastes and products. Trust us: You’ll have a far better experience.
9. Don’t risk it all for that perfect selfie.
If the sign says no, don’t ignore it! Risking the delicate balance of the environment, a priceless work of art or even your own life is not worth it. Chronicle your journey respectfully.
10. Don’t disrespect the environment.
Overtourism is sadly becoming an epidemic, particularly in areas of outstanding natural beauty. Don’t add to the problem by throwing litter or trampling protected areas. Future visitors should be able to enjoy this spot as much as you did.
This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Teach & Travel.