Posts tagged "Traveling"

Traveling with Heart Disease: Tips for Staying Healthy2 min read

Traveling with Heart Disease

Traveling is stressful in general, and for those with heart disease it can pose an even bigger challenge. But having heart problems doesn’t necessarily mean you have to miss out on the next family vacation or island getaway. With proper preparation and care, travelers with heart disease can easily enjoy a comfortable and healthy vacation alongside their loved ones. Here are some tips to ensure a heart-healthy trip.

Talk to Your Doctor Before You Go

If you experience any unusual symptoms, have had a recent procedure or hospitalization, or have an irregular heartbeat, be sure to visit your doctor prior to your departure.  He or she will let you know if it is safe to travel and, in some cases, provide you with a copy of a recent EKG test to bring with you.

Prepare Your Medications

Make sure to pack enough medication for the entire trip as well as for a few extra days in case of delays or cancelations. If you are flying, keep your medication in your carry-on bag so that it is easily accessible at all times. Be sure that all medications are properly labeled and that you have access to water (and food if necessary) when it is time to take them.

Plan Ahead

Once you’ve talked to your doctor and prepared your medications, there are a few other key things you can do before departure to eliminate health risks:

  • Pack using suitcases on wheels to avoid heavy lifting.
  • If flying, request an aisle seat so you can get up and move when necessary.
  • If traveling overseas, arrange for a day of rest after arrival.
  • Arrive to the airport, train station, or bus depot early to avoid crowds.
  • Pack plenty of healthy snacks and water (if flying, buy water bottles once you get through security).
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.

Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

For people with heart conditions, sitting for extended periods of time can increase the risk of swelling in your legs and blood clots. Flying adds to this risk because of lower oxygen levels on the plane. To avoid DVT:

  • Try to move every 2 hours or so. If driving, stop the car and take a walk. If flying, walk around the cabin. If you cannot get up and walk, move your feet around for several minutes while seated.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks.
  • If flying for more than 8 hours, wear compression stockings. 

Take Proper Precautions If You Have a Pacemaker or ICD

If flying with a pacemaker or implanted cardiac defibrillator (ICD), make sure you carry your device ID on you and inform a TSA agent. It is safe to walk through most metal detectors and full body scanners now, but you should not permit a hand-held metal detector to be used near your device. If you are unsure of what is safe in your situation, it may be best to ask a TSA agent for a hand search.

Get Travel Health Insurance

If you follow these tips, you should have a comfortable and problem-free trip. However, in the off chance that medical assistance is needed, it’s important to have a travel health insurance plan that covers hospital or doctor visits, prescription drugs, and medical evaluations.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - May 19, 2017 at 19:40

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , , ,

Traveling with Fibromyalgia: 5 Tips to Make Your Trip Successful3 min read

Traveling with fibromyalgia

Traveling when you’re perfectly healthy can be hard on your body. When you have chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, it can be grueling. You’ll have to deal with lots of walking through the airport, cramped seating, time changes and irregular schedules, food you’re not familiar with, and a bed that’s not your own. If you’re not careful, any one of these challenges could trigger a fibromyalgia (FM) flare-up that could ruin your trip.

However, with a little planning and help from your travel companions, you can have a successful trip. These tips will help you anticipate some of the potential triggers you’ll encounter during your trip, and how to avoid them or deal with them while you’re traveling.

Changes in the Weather and Temperature

Many people with FM are extremely sensitive to temperatures and changes in the weather. While it’s not always possible to avoid the conditions when you’re traveling – especially if it involves another climate or time zone – you can prepare. And remember that airports can be cold since they crank the air conditioning – I myself spent an uncomfortable 2-hour layover shivering in SFO.

Tip: Like the Boy Scouts – always come prepared. Have a light jacket available at all times in the bag you’ll be carrying with you, so you can pull it out as soon as you need it. Layers are your friend.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest FM triggers and there’s no shortage of it when you travel. Delayed flights, missing baggage, sick kids – they can all get your heart rate going. Again, these may be unavoidable but remember, as Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean – “The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem.”

Tip: Let some things go when you’re traveling. If you miss a flight, there will always be another one. Remember your deep breathing exercises and forewarn your travel companions that you may need to take some time for yourself to practice them.

Lack of Sleep

You won’t have access to your regular bed and you may have a time change to deal with as well. These factors, combined with the general hustle and bustle of traveling, can lead to missed sleep – a big no-no if you have FM. Know going into the trip that you’re going to have to make sleep a priority.

Tip: Many FM sufferers find it beneficial to bring a thin roll of foam on a trip to smooth out the lumps and bumps of a strange bed. You may also need to schedule a few naps and regular bedtimes, even if it means missing an excursion with your travel companions or some late-night fun. Avoiding an FM flare-up is worth it.

Breaks in Your Treatment Plan

Anything that breaks your normal treatment plan can put you at risk for an FM flare-up. This includes changes to your routine, which the tips above will help you to avoid. But it also includes missing doses of your prescribed medications and other therapeutic approaches you use on a regular basis.

Tip: Make sure you stock up on the medications you’ll need before leaving for your trip, and search online for pharmacies at your destination in case you need them. You can also ask your doctor for recommendations for service providers – such as therapeutic massage therapists and acupuncturists – who can help alleviate symptoms and keep your fibromyalgia management on track.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - May 8, 2017 at 20:17

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , ,

Traveling with Fibromyalgia: 5 Tips to Make Your Trip Successful3 min read

Fibromyalgia yoga

Traveling when you’re perfectly healthy can be hard on your body. When you have chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, it can be grueling. You’ll have to deal with lots of walking through the airport, cramped seating, time changes and irregular schedules, food you’re not familiar with, and a bed that’s not your own. If you’re not careful, any one of these challenges could trigger a fibromyalgia (FM) flare-up that could ruin your trip.

However, with a little planning and help from your travel companions, you can have a successful trip. These tips will help you anticipate some of the potential triggers you’ll encounter during your trip, and how to avoid them or deal with them while you’re traveling.

Changes in the Weather and Temperature

Many people with FM are extremely sensitive to temperatures and changes in the weather. While it’s not always possible to avoid the conditions when you’re traveling – especially if it involves another climate or time zone – you can prepare. And remember that airports can be cold since they crank the air conditioning – I myself spent an uncomfortable 2-hour layover shivering in SFO.

Tip: Like the Boy Scouts – always come prepared. Have a light jacket available at all times in the bag you’ll be carrying with you, so you can pull it out as soon as you need it. Layers are your friend.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest FM triggers and there’s no shortage of it when you travel. Delayed flights, missing baggage, sick kids – they can all get your heart rate going. Again, these may be unavoidable but remember, as Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean – “The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem.”

Tip: Let some things go when you’re traveling. If you miss a flight, there will always be another one. Remember your deep breathing exercises and forewarn your travel companions that you may need to take some time for yourself to practice them.

Lack of Sleep

You won’t have access to your regular bed and you may have a time change to deal with as well. These factors, combined with the general hustle and bustle of traveling, can lead to missed sleep – a big no-no if you have FM. Know going into the trip that you’re going to have to make sleep a priority.

Tip: Many FM sufferers find it beneficial to bring a thin roll of foam on a trip to smooth out the lumps and bumps of a strange bed. You may also need to schedule a few naps and regular bedtimes, even if it means missing an excursion with your travel companions or some late-night fun. Avoiding an FM flare-up is worth it.

Breaks in Your Treatment Plan

Anything that breaks your normal treatment plan can put you at risk for an FM flare-up. This includes changes to your routine, which the tips above will help you to avoid. But it also includes missing doses of your prescribed medications and other therapeutic approaches you use on a regular basis.

Tip: Make sure you stock up on the medications you’ll need before leaving for your trip, and search online for pharmacies at your destination in case you need them. You can also ask your doctor for recommendations for service providers – such as therapeutic massage therapists and acupuncturists – who can help alleviate symptoms and keep your fibromyalgia management on track.

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - May 5, 2017 at 16:20

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , ,

Traveling with Fibromyalgia: 5 Tips to Make Your Trip a Success3 min read

Traveling with Fibromyalgia

Traveling when you’re perfectly healthy can be hard on your body. When you have chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, it can be grueling. You’ll have to deal with lots of walking through the airport, cramped seating, time changes and irregular schedules, food you’re not familiar with, and a bed that’s not your own. If you’re not careful, any one of these challenges could trigger a fibromyalgia (FM) flare-up that could ruin your trip.

However, with a little planning and help from your travel companions, you can have a successful trip. These tips will help you anticipate some of the potential triggers you’ll encounter during your trip, and how to avoid them or deal with them while you’re traveling.

Changes in the Weather and Temperature

Many people with FM are extremely sensitive to temperatures and changes in the weather. While it’s not always possible to avoid the conditions when you’re traveling – especially if it involves another climate or time zone – you can prepare. And remember that airports can be cold since they crank the air conditioning – I myself spent an uncomfortable 2-hour layover shivering in SFO.

Tip: Like the Boy Scouts – always come prepared. Have a light jacket available at all times in the bag you’ll be carrying with you, so you can pull it out as soon as you need it. Layers are your friend.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest FM triggers and there’s no shortage of it when you travel. Delayed flights, missing baggage, sick kids – they can all get your heart rate going. Again, these may be unavoidable but remember, as Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean – “The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem.”

Tip: Let some things go when you’re traveling. If you miss a flight, there will always be another one. Remember your deep breathing exercises and forewarn your travel companions that you may need to take some time for yourself to practice them.

Lack of Sleep

You won’t have access to your regular bed and you may have a time change to deal with as well. These factors, combined with the general hustle and bustle of traveling, can lead to missed sleep – a big no-no if you have FM. Know going into the trip that you’re going to have to make sleep a priority.

Tip: Many FM sufferers find it beneficial to bring a thin roll of foam on a trip to smooth out the lumps and bumps of a strange bed. You may also need to schedule a few naps and regular bedtimes, even if it means missing an excursion with your travel companions or some late-night fun. Avoiding an FM flare-up is worth it.

Breaks in Your Treatment Plan

Anything that breaks your normal treatment plan can put you at risk for an FM flare-up. This includes changes to your routine, which the tips above will help you to avoid. But it also includes missing doses of your prescribed medications and other therapeutic approaches you use on a regular basis.

Tip: Make sure you stock up on the medications you’ll need before leaving for your trip, and search online for pharmacies at your destination in case you need them. You can also ask your doctor for recommendations for service providers – such as therapeutic massage therapists and acupuncturists – who can help alleviate symptoms and keep your fibromyalgia management on track.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - April 27, 2017 at 16:21

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Traveling to Cuba: Tips and Advice from Recent Visitors

havana

For the first time in decades, U.S. citizens can now travel to Cuba for vacation and tourism. However, given the country’s long history of embargo with its southern neighbor, it’s not as easy as booking a ticket and hopping on the next flight to Havana. There are still certain restrictions and bureaucratic hoops that you’ll have to navigate before you get there. And, once you’re standing on Cuban soil among some of the first waves of American tourists to see the island in over 50 years, you’ll encounter a whole new world of experiences unlike anything in the United States.

So, what is it like there? We spoke with expert travelers to get their insights and advice from their recent trips to Cuba. If you’re planning a trip in the next few months – especially if you’re a U.S. citizen – review these tips before packing your bags.

Now Is the Perfect Time to Go

U.S. relations with Cuba are good now, but evolving. The trade and tourism embargo that started in the 1960s was relaxed by President Obama’s executive order this year. However, with the death of Fidel Castro, the current regime is in flux. Additionally, recent statements from president-elect Donald Trump imply that he may reverse that historic reconciliation with Cuba if the Cuban government doesn’t meet certain demands related to human rights and political freedoms.

In short, if you want to go, now is the perfect time to make the trip. It may be one of your best chances to see Cuba in the near future without the fear that your vacation plan will be ruined by international political strife.

You’ll Need a Visa to Enter the Country

In order to travel to Cuba as a U.S. citizen, you’ll not only need your passport but a visa as well. One of the easiest ways to get a visa is to book your trip through a tour company that will help you plan your itinerary from start to finish, including helping you sort out the necessary paperwork.

“It was actually quite easy to get a visa since our tour company handled all of the logistics,” said Jared Alster of Stride Travel. “It’s probably the best way to go, too, since the tourism infrastructure is still developing.”cuba-hotel

If you do decide to book your travel on your own, you’ll need to prove that you’re traveling under one of the 12 categories approved by the U.S. government in order to procure a visa. Pure tourism, like sitting on a beach for a week, is still technically prohibited. Any one of the following reasons for visiting will get you the visa approval you need:

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organization
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • Educational activities
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  • Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines

Our experts found that the hurdle for getting a Cuban visa was actually pretty easy to clear. Most people find it “easiest” to travel under the family visit, journalistic activity, or education activity categories. You’ll need a copy of your passport, which must be valid for at least six months after your departure date from Cuba. Typical visas for leisure and recreational purposes will be valid for up to 30 days.

“If you book directly, your airline will provide a link to the website where you can order a visa online,” said Cheryl MacDonald of What Boundaries Travel Media. “It was no trouble at all and cost us about $ 75.”  You can also buy your Cuban visa in person at the airline ticket counter.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Health Insurance

In addition to your passport and visa, medical insurance is required when traveling to Cuba, and you may be asked to show proof of it when entering the country. This rule applies to anyone visiting from overseas as well as Cuban citizens living abroad.

There’s a reason for the requirement. The Cuban government wants to ensure that anyone on holiday have adequate travel medical coverage prior to arriving on the island. The Cuban authorities will not allow anyone with outstanding medical bills to leave the country. Your travel medical insurance must include coverage for medical evacuation by air, medical emergencies and repatriation.

Tobacco workers roll cigars at the Partagas Cigar Factory in Havana, Friday, April 13, 2007. The factory, in the heart of Havana, was built in 1845 by a Spaniard named Jaime Partagas and produces one of Cuba's leading cigar brands. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

If you arrive in Cuba without travel health insurance, or with an invalid travel medical plan, will be able to buy a policy from a Cuban insurance company at the airport, port, or marina where they enter the country. However, as you might imagine, it’s better to have all of your requirements covered before leaving for your trip.

If you do get sick while in Cuba, rest assured that the country has an excellent healthcare system. Healthcare is considered a basic human right according to the Cuban constitution, so the government has invested a significant amount of time and money in medical education. And while the country is poor and spends only $ 813 per person annually on medical care (compared to the $ 9,403 the United States spends), life expectancies in Cuba are the same as they are in the United States.

Cuba has more doctors per capita than the United States, so travelers will be in good care should something go wrong. But of course, bring any medications with you that you regularly take.

However, because of the embargo with the United States, the medical infrastructure is not the same as it is in the United States. Modern equipment such as MRIs and CT scans are not available in every hospital, which is why travel health insurance is so important. If you have a serious problem while in Cuba, your best option is to return home as soon as possible, even if that means cutting your trip short or – in a worst case scenario – being evacuated.

Bring Cash Since Credit Cards Are Unreliable
Cash is king in Cuba. While there have been some inroads made by Visa, Mastercard and smaller U.S.-based banks, using a credit card in Cuba is not a viable option – especially for U.S travelers. You also should not count on being able to withdraw cash from an ATM using a debit card.

In general, only major hotels accept credit cards, so even if you have a non-U.S. based credit card there aren’t many places to use them. Most local stores and shops don’t accept credit cards, and even if they do, the connectivity needed to communicate with your banking institution is unreliable.

There are two types of Cuban cash: Cuban Convertible Currency (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP). As a tourist, you’ll be using the CUC.  While the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and Cuban Convertible Currency is currently 1:1, do not make the exchange while in Cuba. There is a 10% tax levied on the exchange. The better approach is to exchange U.S. dollars for euros while in the United States, and then exchange the euros for CUC once you reach Cuba.

Some of our veteran Cuban visitors report that you can use U.S. dollars and Euros on the street in Cuba without exchanging them, but with a caveat: Cubans are particular about what types of US currency they accept. For example, if a bill is damaged or torn in any way, many merchants will reject it. Bring crisp, new $ 50 or $ 100 bills.

Where to Stay and Where to Go

el-maleconThe hotels in Cuba are beautiful – on the outside. However, you should be ready to rough it a little since “tourist class” hotels are few and far between. What would be considered a four-star hotel in Cuba may only earn two stars in the United States.

“I stayed in hotels and lodges in all of the cities I visited – Havana, Trinidad and Playa del Largo,” said Jared Alster. “I stayed at Hotel Inglaterra in Havana, which is in a great location. The lobby was ornate and beautiful, but the rooms were quite basic. In our hotel in Playa del Largo, we had to switch rooms twice due to lack of running water.”

Lucy Ballantyne of Lion & Lamb Communications, recently visited Cuba and shared her favorite places to visit in and around Havana:

  • El Malecon: A broad esplanade, roadway and seawall that stretches for 8 kilometers along the coast in Havana, Cuba. It starts at the mouth of Havana Harbor in Old Havana, along the north side of the Centro Habana neighborhood, ending in the Vedado neighborhood. Locals meet up and celebrate at certain points along the stretch, which is designed to keep the waves from destroying the city.
  • Fábrica de Arte Cubano: The Cuban Art Factory, where the artists meet the public. Combining art, music and nightlife, the project is the brainchild of internationally renowned Cuban musician X Alfonso. It’s supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Music.
  • Plaza de San Francisco: The town square in Old Havana with the basilica and the monastery of San Francisco de Asis. Make sure you pay the two CUC to climb to the top for a great view of the old city.
  • Belle Artes (and the Cuban exhibition specifically): The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana exhibits Cuban art collections from colonial times to the present.
  • El Cañonazo: One of the city’s oldest traditions is the firing of this cannon at 9 p.m. every night. Centuries ago this signaled the closing of the city gates at the end of the day.
  • Hotel Nacional de Cuba: This hotel has hosted many notable guests such as Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando, Alexander Flemming, Frank Sinatra, and many more. Hotel Nacional de Cuba houses the Cabaret Parisien, which hosts the “Cubano, Cubano” cabaret, tracing the fusion of Indoamerican, Hispanic, and African cultures that have given rise to Cuba’s modern culture as we know it today.
  • El Floridita: A legendary Havana bar, one of many regularly frequented by Ernest Hemmingway for daiquiris.

The Culinary Scene in Cuba

You’ll find many fine restaurants throughout Havana and the larger cities worthy of exploring. About a decade ago, Castro allowed “private business” to emerge so many people opened family restaurants in old homes and buildings. You can find many hidden gems throughout the country – and it’s a good idea to ask your hotel manager or host for their favorites.street-food-in-havana

If you’re not ready to explore or want to ease into the culinary scene, hotels can be a good alternative. “Of course hotel restaurants are always available and dining is cheap: a lobster risotto with 3 lobster tails in Old Town Havana was $ 20 with wine,” said Paul Eschenfelder of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

And don’t forget to try the seafood, which Lucy Ballantyne raves about. “The culinary scene in Cuba really impressed me with some of the most exquisite seafood dishes on offer,” she said. “My favorite meal would have to be from the renowned La Guarida, where I had grilled prawns and chocolate fondue – the best I have ever experienced.”

If you’re ready to venture off the beaten path, you can’t go wrong with trying the street food. Cubans have had to make do with very little, so you’ll experience their creativity and ingenuity firsthand at a roadside food stall. You’ll find many varieties of pork dishes and sandwiches, which are almost always accompanied by two Cuban staples: rice and beans.

One word of caution, however. Do not drink the tap water in Cuba. It’s a good idea to use bottled water when you brush your teeth, and avoid getting water in your mouth when you shower or bathe.

Staying Active and Fit While You’re There

Havana and the other major cities in Cuba are very walkable, so you’ll get a good amount of exercise as you explore and sightsee. If you’re looking to ramp up your activity level even more while you’re there, you’ll have a variety of options.

Cuba has many national parks that are relatively empty, since most Cubans can’t afford to travel to them and tourists stick to the city centers. If you want to explore the natural surroundings in relative solitude, try hiking through one of these natural wonders.  Jared Alstel suggests Topes de Collantes near Trinidad. “I saw a beautiful waterfall, went for a swim, and then ended up at a simple restaurant in the park for lunch,” he said.

If you’re looking for an adventure at sea, Cuba is also well known for its spectacular scuba diving sites. In particular Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) is a mangrove archipelago of hundreds of islands and a reef that has some of the best underwater conditions in the Caribbean. “Up to 20 different species of Caribbean reef sharks can be seen in a single dive,” said Sandro Lonardi of Diviac Travel. “The reef is healthy and untouched, and you can even snorkel with crocodiles.”

If dry land and a slightly slower pace are a better fit for your lifestyle, Cuba also has two golf courses available (three if you count the course at Guantanamo Bay that’s available only for the U.S. military).  The Varadero Golf Club hosts and 18-hole course outside of Havana on a narrow 3.5 kilometer strip of beach near the major hotels east of Havana. There’s also the smaller 9-hole course of the Havana Golf Club, south of Havana. Most Cubans don’t golf because it’s expensive, so you’ll have the courses mostly to yourself if you decide to tee up.

What You Can Bring Back

The U.S. government will allow you to bring back $ 400 worth of souvenirs, and cigars can make up only $ 100 worth of that total. Don’t take chances with the imposed limits either, since fines are hefty. Break the law and you could be facing a $ 250,000 fine and 10 years in prison – so don’t risk it.

However, there is no limit to the amount of memories and stories you can bring home with you. So plan the trip of a lifetime and – with the help of these tips – enjoy a safe, happy and unforgettable visit to Cuba.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - December 2, 2016 at 14:24

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , , ,

Traveling to Asia? Avoid These Common Cultural Mistakes

Dinner Celebration in China

As a Westerner, your trip to Asia will be filled with exciting new experiences as well as a few challenges. The time difference, new foods, and complex itineraries can throw even the most experienced traveler for a loop. Perhaps the biggest challenge of all, however, will be the different customs and traditions you’ll encounter along the way. Navigating them successfully requires that you do a little research before you go, keep an open mind, and never assume that you know best. Something that may be polite or acceptable in the United States or Europe may cause your Asian host to raise an eyebrow, ruin a fun evening, or even bring your promising business deal to a screeching halt. Our expert travelers, Asian locals, and Western ex-pats living abroad share some of the do’s and don’ts for traveling in Asia.

Be Aware of Your Body Language and Touching
While you should always act naturally and in line with your personality, keep in mind that many Asian cultures are more reserved than the West. Big body movements, overt signs of friendship (back slapping and touching) and public displays of affection among romantic partners are typically frowned upon.

It’s also unacceptable to touch someone’s head in most Asian countries. Buddhism is a common religion, and Buddhists consider the head to be sacred. It’s seen as the location of the spirit and the soul. For that reason, you should never touch someone’s head – even to give a small child an affectionate pat.

However, despite the tendency to touch less, Asian standards for personal space are much different than they are in the West. “Personal space is much smaller in China because the population density is so high,” said Derek McLane of Petplan. “People talk closer to you, and Westerners tend to move back when this happens. This can cause a few misunderstandings.” Along the same lines, it’s common for people in China to cut in line while queueing. It’s not considered a big deal and not something to get angry about.

Holding hands in public is generally an acceptable way to show friendship, and it’s not uncommon to see friends of the same gender holding hands. While this may seem out of the ordinary to Western visitors, it’s perfectly natural in countries like China.

Also keep in mind that some of the common hand gestures used in the West have a different meaning in Asia. For example:

  • In Thailand, the “thumbs up” that Westerners use as a sign of approval is similar to sticking out your tongue to taunt someone.
  • Beckoning someone with your index finger and palm up, as a way to say “come here,” is insulting in China and Japan – it’s the way you would call a dog or animal. If you must beckon someone with your hand, do it with your palm facing down.
  • When you give a gift, do it with both hands. Likewise, receive gifts with both hands. This shows that you are attentive and sincere in offering and receiving the gift.
  • Never cross your fingers as a sign of good luck or hope in Asia, since it’s considered an obscene gesture.

The feet and shoes are also source of cultural misunderstandings in Asia and in the Middle East.Remove your shoes in Asia Showing the soles of your feet is considered rude, so crossing your legs in a way that shows your sole is a bad idea. It’s also rude to wear your shoes indoors, especially when visiting your host’s home. If you see a line of shoes outside the door of a home, it’s best to remove your shoes before entering. Make the gesture to remove your shoes and allow your host to guide the ultimate decision (make sure you wear socks without holes!)

Etiquette Around the Dinner Table

In Asia, as in just about every country you’ll visit, the locals appreciate your attempts to speak the language and adopt their customs. If you’re a pro at using chopsticks, you’ll fit right in. However, it’s acceptable to ask for a fork if you don’t know how to use them.

“When in China and trying to use chopsticks, make sure to never stick the chopsticks in your bowl of rice vertically,” advises Sher of SherSheGoes. “If you’re pausing mid-meal, chopsticks should always be placed on the table next to the plate much like you would a fork or spoon. The Chinese only stick chopsticks vertically in rice Chopsticks in Rice Bowlat funeral meals, to offer the food to their ancestors.”

Meals in China and Japan can be a loud, messy affair, so be prepared. “In Japan, it’s customary to slurp when eating noodle dishes like ramen or udon,” said JB Maca of WillFlyforFood.net. “In the West this is considered rude, but in Japan it’s a sign that you’re enjoying your meal. So when eating noodles in Japan, remember to slurp, and slurp loudly.”

In South Korea, it’s considered rude to pick up and eat your bowl of rice from your hands the way the Japanese or Chinese do. Generally, however, rice bowls in Korea are made out of metal, so they’ll be too hot to pick up. It is expected that you drink beer or soju with your peers, which locals consider to be the best way to build stronger friendships and business relationships.

“Always look down when you are eating with colleagues in South Korea,” said David James of Business Growth Digital Marketing. “If you make eye contact while you are eating, they will usually ask you why you are looking at them.”

Meals are all about eating in South Korea, and socializing is put on hold when the food arrives. It’s common to finish eating the meal within about five or ten minutes. Eating kimchi is also expected, which is an acquired taste if you’re not used to it.

If you’re visiting someone’s home in Asia, your host will serve you, and they may not even eat at all so that they can make sure you have enough. If invited to a home for a meal do not accidentally insult your host by bringing a dish or other food. This may be seen as a sign that you don’t believe they cannot provide enough food for the meal. Across Asia, picky eaters a
re frowned upon. Even if a dish is new or strange to you, politeness dictates that you eat it. It’s impolite to refuse food, especially when dining with friends or colleagues.

Fight for the Check in China
At the end of a meal in China, it’s common to “argue” a bit about who should pay the bill. Always offer, always expect your host to insist on paying and engage in a bit of back of forth of saying “no I’ll pay, I insist” several times. “If the host offers and you accept right away, there’s certainly nothing wrong about it,” says Sher of SherSheGoes. “But it’s just the Chinese way to politely fight over grabbing the check as a courtesy to the host.”

Giving Gifts Helps Build Relationships

“One piece of cultural etiquette I’ve found most helpful is the custom of giving gifts. It’s a huge mistake when your host gives you a gift and you have nothing to give in return!” said Josh Summers of Go West Ventures. “This is particularly true as an individual traveler who is invited into a local home, but I’ve found it helpful even in a business setting to be prepared with small gifts that can help to ‘give face’ to the host.”

Sometimes, the practice of gift giving can require you to walk a fine line. Of course, it’s always acceptable among friends and family. However, in a business setting, it can be more challenging. Many governments – especially in China – are regulating practices like giving gifts since it’s so closely related to bribery and corruption. “While gift-giving is still a significant part of business culture, you have to make it clear that you are not trying to buy influence with the person you are giving the gift to,” advises Abigail Kang of Garcha Hotels in Singapore. “For that reason, never give lavish gifts. A good bottle of wine or liquor is still acceptable and never goes out of style.”

If you give a gift in Japan, expect a gift in return, as reciprocity is considered polite. Kang has experienced this first hand: “I am still stuck in a cycle of gift giving with someone in Japan that has gone on since last year.”

Business Meeting Do’s and Don’ts
Many cultural traditions from the West have made their way to Asia, especially in business settings. Hand shaking is the norm now, whether you’re male or female. Even in Japan, where bowing remains the custom, it is sometimes followed with a handshake. Where you’re unsure of how to proceed, it’s always sensible to take the lead from your hosts.

Keep in mind, however, that Chinese people do not bow – Japanese do. This important distinction will help you show your understanding of the distinct traditions among cultures in Asia. The depth of bows in Japan reflect the status of the person receiving the bow; the deeper the bow, the more important the person.

Business cards, and the way you give and receive them, are very important in Asia. Just like youBusiness Cards in Japan would with a gift, they should be given and received with two hands. After you receive someone’s card, take a moment to read it carefully. Keep the card out and near you during the meeting. At the end of the meeting, make it a point to store the card in a safe place like a protective case to show your respect.

Punctuality is important across most of Asia, especially in China, South Korea, Japan. “If you’re ever traveled by train in Japan, you’ll notice that if a train is even a minute off the expected time, people on the platform start getting very antsy,” said Abigail Kang. “Punctuality is extremely important as a show of respect for the other person’s schedule.”

One exception to this rule is in Indonesia, where the local saying is that everything operates on “jam karet,” or “rubber time.” Rubber time is the concept that schedules are flexible and meetings may be delayed. Just like visitors to other Asian countries should strive for punctuality, anyone going to Indonesia should expect a bit of rubber time.

Building Relationships Takes Time
When negotiating or discussing a plan, your Asian business partners typically will communicate more subtly than you may be used to in the United States or Europe. “You may not hear an outright ‘no.’ When in Japan, my clients and colleagues rarely say ‘no’ to anything,” said Derek McLane of Petplan. “Even if they disagree with me, they will say ‘maybe’ or ‘I don’t know’ to give me the opportunity to save face.” This can be a little unsettling to Westerners who are usually more direct in their answers.

Along the same lines, it’s important to avoid cutting straight to the chase when doing business in China. The Chinese do not like to dive into anything, especially with people that aren’t family or longtime friends. In Chinese, a commonly used word is “Guānxì,” which means “relationships.” If you may want to do business with someone but have no connections with them, so you might ask for help from a colleague or friend that does have Guānxì with this particular person. That’s the easy route.

The more challenging way to create Guānxì is by actually taking the time to create a relationship. “It could be over a 6-hour dinner that includes endless shots of Chinese rice wine while chain-smoking ridiculously priced packs of cigarettes with government officials,” said Monica Weintraub of New Life ESL.

All Asian Countries Are Not the Same
While there are some commonalities in the traditions and culture across Asia, there are also significant differences between countries and among different religious and ethnic groups within countries. One of the biggest mistakes many Westerners make is assuming that all Asian cultures are the same. They’re not – that would be like saying Germans and Italians are the same, or that someone born and bred in Texas has everything in common with someone who lived their whole life in New York City. This assumption is the source of many misunderstandings and unintended insults.

Even if you don’t know all the details about the culture you’re visiting, understanding that there is a difference among Asian cultures and the West – and trying your best to respect traditions – will go a long way toward a successful trip.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - November 3, 2016 at 20:45

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , , ,