Road Trippin': Namibia

October 08,2014


One of the best, most cost-effective and personal ways to travel in Namibia is in a car. American travelers are usually taken aback when they learn this. The Road Trip is a very American convention. From Route 66 to Pacific Coast Highway, the best way to see the 50 states is from behind the wheel. We list Namibia among the few overseas destinations where we suggest the same.

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Know Before You Go: Ecuador

October 14,2011

Ecuador is one the most diverse countries in the world, with snow-capped volcanoes, tropical beaches, and lush jungles. The diverse topography allows travelers to easily venture to different climates within a matter of days. The largest ethnic group in Ecuador is the Andean Quechua, consisting of around 2 million people. The Quechua have preserved their culture, traditions, and language quite well. Distinguished by the Andean flute music, foods such as quinoa and cuy (guinea pig), beautiful wool ponchos, and colorful embroidered blouses, learning about the Quechua culture will no doubt be a highlight of your Ecuador tour.


The official language of Ecuador is Spanish, but Quechua is spoken by the indigenous population. In addition to Spanish, there are about 10 native languages spoken in Ecuador. Roman Catholic influences some social behavior in Ecuador; many holiday and festivals are at least partially based on Christian beliefs.

Meeting and Greeting

People will greet with a handshake and a smile. Try using the appropriate greeting for the time of day:

  • Buenos dias: Good morning
  • Buenas tardes: Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches: Good evening
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Know Before You Go: Vietnam

September 06,2011

With lush jungles, beautiful forests, limestone cliffs, and winding rivers, Vietnam is an ideal adventure travel destination. Visit the beautiful hills of Sapa Valley, discover laid back towns like Hoi An, or enjoy the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh. Depending on where you travel throughout Vietnam, customs and traditions may vary slightly. However, making an effort to demonstrate respect and knowledge of the culture will be appreciated everywhere. The etiquette and customs of Vietnam is a reflection of the unique culture and lifestyle of the country. The people are polite and friendly, and family is very important in Vietnamese culture. As an addition to our Know Before You Go series, here are a few Vietnam travel tips.

Vietnam Travel

The Family

Family is a very important aspect of life in Vietnam, the immediate and extended family. They live in large patriarchal joint families, and often times multiple generations live in the same house. The father is considered the head of the household and is responsible for much of the decision making. Children take care of their aging parents.

The most prominent religion in Vietnam is Buddhism, with Confucianism, Taoism, and Catholicism and also being popular. You will notice the philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism play a big part in the culture and every day lives. For example, Confucian beliefs emphasize respect for elders, and strongly influence family relationships in Vietnam.

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Know Before You Go: Nepal

August 16,2011
Annapurna Circuit

Nepal is one of the world’s premier adventure travel destinations. Nepal’s trekking options are endless. Rivers wind down the snow-capped mountains, creating some of the best river rafting and kayaking opportunities in the world. Discover the traditional architecture and holy temples in Nepal’s ancient cities to learn more about the country’s fascinating culture.

Nepal is about 54,363 sq miles with a population of approximately 30 million. The largest city, with more than 1 million people, is the capital, Kathmandu. Many visitors, drawn to Nepal by the unique eco tours, leave equally enchanted by the friendly demeanor of the Nepali people. Nepal is one of the best budget destinations around the world.

Cultural Norms and Etiquette

Nepal is a unique blend of culture and customs. There are more than 100 ethic groups in Nepal each with their own customs, tradition, and rituals. This colorful culture is a blend of religious etiquette and cultural norms a little different from anywhere else. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for a Nepal tour:

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Know Before You Go: Japan

July 22,2011

Harmony is intricately woven into Japanese society and something that is important to have an understanding of when visiting Japan. While Japanese people are understandably forgiving when visitors to Japan are not fully aware of all Japanese social norms, it is still appreciated when you make an effort to act respectfully and appropriately. As part of our Know Before You Go series, we have compiled a list of tips on cultural norms and etiquette in Japan.


Meeting and Greeting

  • Older generations generally greet with bows, rather than a handshake, though in some cases younger people may use handshakes as is done in many western countries.
  • The common way to address people is by their last name, followed by the suffix “-san,” which is a more flexible version of Ms./Mr./Mrs. In non-formal situations, Japanese people may address you by your first name followed by “-san,” though it’s considered casual.
  • When entering a Japanese house or a ryokan, remove your shoes at the doorway. Slippers are usually provided by the host. When entering a room with tatami floor, slippers are also removed. Wear only socks or bare feet on tatami floor.
  • When in public, eye contact is generally avoided with strangers.
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