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When going on vacation, most people have ideas in mind for the activities they want to do. However, many people forget that traveling requires more than a daily itinerary. There is a lot that you should mentally prepare yourself for before going on a trip, in order to avoid coming across as rude and disrespectful. Here are a few things to keep in mind and avoid doing when you’re in another country.

Don’t Ignore the Rules

Everywhere you go, there are rules. Some are explicitly stated, but some are just a part of the culture. For example, a thumbs up is an obscene gesture in some countries, but it’s fine in the US. These more implicit rules can get you into a lot of trouble with locals. It could make you a target for crime, as people will easily identify you as a tourist. Make sure to read up extensively on the country you’re visiting, and maybe even the area, if there are different cultural customs in different areas. Stick to the tips provided so you don’t accidentally offend someone.

Likewise, follow explicit rules, too. If a sign says not to walk on the grass, don’t do it. If you’re supposed to take off your shoes in a religious area, take them off. Don’t disrespect the culture of the place you’re visiting just because it’s different from your own. Vacation isn’t a free pass to do whatever you want. Also, keep in mind that some rules are explicitly stated, but may not be visibly posted when you get to your destination. You should do some research before visiting a new place.

Don’t Only Speak English

Unless you’re traveling to a country that has English as its primary language, don’t expect to get by solely on English. Yes, you may be able to find some people who speak English at just about any place in the world, but it can be rude to expect people to speak your language. Instead, learn at least a few basic phrases and seek out a native speaker to correct your pronunciation and grammar. Try to speak the official language of the country, but don’t be surprised if someone asks to speak English. If it’s offered, you can accept without being disrespectful.

Don’t Pack Questionable Items

Most people have good judgement when it comes to packing for a vacation. However, there are some items that could be legal where you live but illegal elsewhere. Medication is the best example of this, especially when it comes to controlled substances. Pain medications and ADHD medications are two common examples of controlled substances, and not knowing your destination’s policies on them could lead to some serious charges. If you need a prescription to manage your daily activities, you should look into what procedures to take when traveling. You’ll most likely need documentation by a doctor, but in some cases, you may be banned from bringing them altogether.

Traveling is a fun experience, but it can be dampened by a lack of education about the place you’re visiting. Before traveling, keep in mind these three points to avoid making an error that was easily avoidable.