Understanding other cultures and forms of worship will broaden your horizons and bring the world one step closer to peace, so prepare your travelers for what they can expect while traveling with your group. Learning respect for other nationalities and religions and their extending respect for you is the most valuable souvenir you will bring back. This applies not only to international travel, but to our own USA and its diverse geographic regions.
Timely Tips on Etiquette and Attitude:
- Provide a reading list of books or articles that help everyone understand the cultures and worship practices that you may encounter.
- Remind travelers they are leaving home to see, touch and taste another part of the world and to be open to local customs
- As you meet with people from other regions, provide gifts or donations when appropriate.
Prior to departure, discuss what your group will experience and prepare for a positive approach to worship, food and customs in other cultures. Joining in worship with other faiths and being open to hearing about other faiths is an educational experience for both sides.
Sharing a personal experience from a trip to Turkey, we were a group of travel leaders on an educational study trip with a guide who was Muslim. I asked him to share with me his beliefs and then had the opportunity to share my beliefs with him, something I do with all guides in other countries. It is an exchange of information that leads to understanding—never a point of converting anyone.
On the Sunday of our tour we had a worship service led by one of our travelers. Our guide stayed with us the entire service, listening and showing great respect. After the service as we walked down the street of a small Turkish village, I thanked him for being with us in worship. He linked his arm in mine and said, “We all worship the same God.” That was several years ago, and to this day we are friends and exchange greetings regularly. On a return visit to Turkey I had lunch with him in Istanbul. Understanding and respect have allowed me to have friends all over the world.
As you meet with people from other regions, provide gifts or donations when appropriate. This can be part of your pricing or you can have individuals handle this—give them proper notice so they are ready with the correct currency and denominations in bills or coins.
Do some research and be prepared for what is appropriate in each situation, showing respect for local traditions. Take along things from your hometown as a way of sharing who you are and where you are from.
Within your travel group, it is important to stick to the pre-assigned schedule. This requires multiple announcements of arrival and departure times, especially if they deviate from the itinerary. Discuss with your tour leader about what roles will be assigned during the trip. Who will be in front of the bus, who will be the liaison with guides and travelers and who will be the spiritual leader? Knowing everyone’s duties in advance of a busy trip will ensure smooth sailing, regardless of the weather.
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