Handsome male backpacker tourist napping on a bench and baggage at the station



Zarife Hardy, etiquette coach, stylist and director of the Australian School of Etiquette and Style


“The first rule of travel etiquette is to always be gracious and use your manners,” she says. “Remember, a smile is a universal signal of being friendly.”


1. Dress is important. Shorts are not common streetwear in many cities; they are considered beachwear, to be worn in coastal resort towns. Some churches have modest dress requirements: no shorts or bare shoulders. It is best to always a pack a nice dress, longer skirt, shirt and smart pants to be respectful in your attire.

2. Dining etiquette can be very different. Be prepared to sit on the floor, eat with your right hand, not eat with your hands, and try some very different food. Do some research first and always have a humble and respectful attitude. If a local is taking you out for dinner or cooking for you, you must at least try the food, no matter what it looks like.

3. Learn some important words and phrases in your destination country’s language – “hello”, “please”, “thank you” and “where is …?” are a great start. It is also a good idea to determine what makes for an appropriate topic of conversation. Sometimes it’s better to keep the conversation light and airy, about the weather and food rather than politics.

4. Know how to greet someone in a foreign country. It is embarrassing to hold your hand out to someone who is expecting a bow, or if you call someone by their name incorrectly. It is always best to start formal and use their title and last name until they invite you to use their first name.

5. Good etiquette while flying is imperative as many people are tired and squashed into a small space. Respect the space around you, don’t use any space that isn’t yours, don’t take over the arm rests or recline your seat without checking that the person behind you isn’t still eating or drinking. Don’t turn into a chatterbox.