Travellers are big on questions – after all, the lust to wander is often rooted in insatiable curiosity about the world. However, there are some questions many travellers don’t think to ask, but should. Here’s some questions every savvy traveller should be asking – they may even be worth learning in the local language.

800px-NEEMO_12_training_all_okay

Is it okay?

Every good traveller knows that being respectful is important – but it can be hard to mind your P’s and Q’s in an unfamiliar culture. When in doubt, it never hurts to ask. Not sure if you’re appropriately dressed (or even allowed) in a holy site? Ask. Wondering whether you should remove your shoes? Point at your feet and inquire. You’ll clear up any possible faux pas before they happen – and the locals will be grateful for your consideration. When you do misstep – and you will – know how to say “I’m sorry” in the local language, and be genuine when you say it.

Can I take a picture?

For many travellers, photographs are an integral part of their adventuring style. Especially with social media, taking pictures has become a central part of the way we document our experiences and share them with those we love. It’s important to remember, however, the subjects of your photos are often day-to-day happenings for the locals. Imagine going about your day and suddenly having a tourist take your picture. You might feel a little confused and violated – after all, this is your life, not a fascinating spectacle. That doesn’t mean you can’t take pictures of cultural quirks you find interesting- just ask first if you’re obviously taking a picture of a specific person from close range. The same applies to holy sites, cultural activities, goods for sale, and children. When in doubt, ask.

800px-A_woman_taking_picture_with_the_help_of_a_telescope,_Montmartre,_Paris_2011

What is this?

You’ll never know if you don’t ask! Express your curiosity about the unfamiliar, and you may get an enthusiastic response. People often love sharing their culture with, and you’ll learn lots if you’re brave enough to inquire. Just be sure to be genuinely interested and completely non-judgmental. You may even want to learn this one in the local language- though that may mean getting a long response you can’t understand!

Is it safe?

This one is particularly important for women and solo travellers. We’re not saying you should live in fear when travelling, but it’s worth knowing whether an area is safe, especially when going out at night. After all, there are probably areas in your hometown you wouldn’t venture into alone at night. It’s almost impossible to know where those places are in a new city, so it never hurts to ask.

Where do you like?

You know all the best places in your city. The locals where you’re visiting know the best of theirs. Ask the desk in your hostel, your server at lunch, a friendly shop owner, the bartender, or whoever you connect with where to find the best anything – coffee, nightlife, local delicacies, whatever. You’ll find experiences that no guidebook could lead you to – and maybe make a friend while you’re at it!