20 Feb 2009 by Olga Brighton
You don't need to become a native overnight, slaving over research about a country when you want to be having fun. But a bit of local knowledge can go a long way to enhance your travel experience and earn you respect in the country you're visiting. Before you head off on your gap year, make sure you familiarise yourself with your destination and its local laws and customs. It's also a good idea to learn some key phrases and words of the local language. This can make a huge difference to your trip and the reception you get.
Reading up on local laws and customs and finding out a bit about the local culture can also prevent you from offending people or breaking local laws, however unwittingly! For example, in some countries it may be illegal to wear short sleeved tops or sunbathe topless, even though you may be in a hot climate. If you find out about this before you go you'll avoid getting into trouble and will have a far more enjoyable experience. Try also to blend in to the local community - be conscious of any religious dress codes and dress accordingly. It's important to be respectful when you are visiting someone else's country. And don't forget your travel insurance!
Read also: Local Laws And Customs In the UAE
Don't chew gum, drop litter, spit or fail to flush the loo in Singapore as it is illegal.
Don't blow your nose in public when you're in Japan as this is offensive.
Here are some handy tips on how to find out about your destination: