Travel Articles

Travel Tips: What's "normal" anyway?

By: Fahima Gibrel, Ingle International

Travel Tips: What’s “normal” anyway?So you’ve booked your trip, have your list of places to visit, and are on the way to your next big adventure. With all this border-hopping, have you thought about how customs will change from one country to the next? And what about social norms in Canada that are far from the norm in countries overseas? Thinking about these differences is a good start. Familiarizing yourself with them is even better.

Read through the 5 points below if you would like to avoid offense, stay safe, and enhance your overall travel experience.

1. Traffic Accidents: Road and traffic accidents in the developing world are quite common and are a major cause of death. This is due, in large part, to aging vehicles, relaxed regulations, and poor road conditions.

If you are involved in a minor traffic accident (and are not badly injured), assess the situation to determine if it is best for you to get out of the car: Is it dark? Are you in a safe area? Is there a mob forming? Sometimes it is best to stay in the car and wait for the authorities to show up. If you have a cell phone handy, call for help. It is always a good idea to ask a local about best practices in the event of a car accident – prior to travelling. Also, always have your host country’s emergency number on hand. In highly populated regions, it is not uncommon for a mob to form, so be careful.

2. The Power of the Haggle: Everyone loves a deal, and it’s likely that you’re always looking for the best price when shopping. Why should this be any different when travelling? As a tourist, you will be a prime mark for merchants, but you want the local price – not the marked-up tourist price.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and knowing the local price of goods will help you negotiate a better price. While one merchant might sell you a pashmina scarf for $20, the merchant next door might give it to you for $15, while the locals are getting it for $10. Don’t be afraid to (politely) demand the bargain you know you deserve. And don’t forget that shopping while on vacation and shopping while at home affects your wallet in the exact same way. So shop like you would at home. Your wallet will thank you.

3. Dressing Appropriately: Depending on the country you are visiting, it can be very important to know the cultural norms when it comes to dress. What you wear in your home country may be considered inappropriate, or even offensive, in another country, so do your fashion homework before you go.

Difference in climate can also be a major factor when deciding which clothes to pack and which to leave behind. Check the weather conditions to ensure you will be dressed comfortably. For example, if the country is infamous for its humidity, choose clothing made of light, cotton material. You don’t want weather conditions (and poor packing) to prevent you from enjoying your trip!

4. Travel Etiquette: Canada is a multicultural nation, and because of this, we are known for our tolerance when it comes to difference. Still, our social norms will differ from those of other countries, and being the typical “polite Canadian,” we wouldn’t want to unknowingly offend. This means it would be beneficial to read up on your destination’s social norms and customs before leaving home to avoid causing offense.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can just get by! Something as simple as how to greet the locals will vary depending on the country you are in. In some countries, they might greet you with two kisses, while in others, it is more appropriate to bow.

5. Common Sense: Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you’re protected from the external risks you might face at home. In fact, your risks may be greater for the simple reason that you are unaware of the country’s laws and customs. It is important to take precautionary measures to avoid putting yourself at risk. Keep your belongings in close proximity to you, try not to stand out too much, and be aware of your surroundings.

It also wouldn’t hurt to research the local laws before leaving home. In some countries you could be jailed for exposing too much skin. Be aware to avoid a scare!

Let this article act as a guide to further enhance your travelling experience. The world is a big place, and it houses many people. Informing yourself before travelling will only better your experience.

This article, written by Fahima Gibrel, is provided by Ingle International. Ingle International has specialized in travel insurance since 1946, and provides insurance solutions for individuals living, working, studying, or travelling anywhere in the world.