8 Etiquette Tips and Rules for Travel in Europe

The Meierei im Stadtpark restaurant in Vienna

By Paul Riegler on 10 December 2018
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Even experienced travelers commit the occasional faux pas while traveling in a foreign country; indeed it’s almost inevitable.

Showing a desire to learn more about the people and culture of the land one is visiting is key.

While it’s difficult to make broad generalizations about Europe and Europeans, one thing that’s clear is that the rules of comportment are frequently quite different from what is customary in the United States.  Indeed, from Athens to Zürich, it’s important to understand how people interact, conduct business, and socialize, regardless of the setting.

Here are eight tips and rules of etiquette that anyone traveling in Europe should be aware of.

1.) Use Your Library Voice

For reasons that may only become clear to anthropologists in future, Americans tend to talk loudly in museums and restaurants where a more hushed tone is the rule.  Talking loudly is considered a sign of the so-called “Ugly American.”

Whether in a cathedral or a museum, speak softly and don’t carry a selfie stick.

When you don’t know the word in the local language, saying the English equivalent loudly doesn’t help understanding.

2.) Slow Your Pace

When in Europe, take things a bit more slowly, both figuratively and literally.  “Things can wait” is the mantra most will adopt. The French à tout à l’heure, while meaning right away, has been described as the Spanish mañana.

Enjoy the relaxed pace and take some of it back with you when returning home.

3.) The a 24-Hour Clock

While clock faces in Europe look the same as in the States, most shops and businesses as well as many individuals tell time using a 24-hour clock.  The 24-hour clock eliminates the ambiguity that can occur, for example, with a flight scheduled for 00:30, which is clearly 30 minutes after midnight.  In casual conversation, many will give the time using the 12-hour format but add “in the morning/afternoon/evening” when needed.

Anything written down even in the most casual of settings will likely be in a 24-hour format and that’s also what digital clocks will use by default.

It behooves the traveler to become familiar with the 24-hour clock as all timetables will be in this format.

Click here to continue to Page 2Compliments, Tipping, Gift Giving, and Comportment

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