Travelers who go on Europe tours of Ireland often come to delight in the gorgeous landscapes filled with rolling hills, craggy coastlines and magnificent Medieval castles. The Emerald Isle is truly a place of intrigue and romance that makes for memories to last a lifetime, but understanding the cultural differences of the country beforehand can make the trip even more successful. Peruse these dos and don'ts of local etiquette:
- Shake hands: When meeting the locals while on a Best of Ireland Tour, be sure to shake hands hand with all present, including men, women and children. It's also customary to give another firm handshake when departing.
- Make eye contact: It's considered rude not to make eye contact when shaking hands or conversing with someone.
- Dress modestly: The locals tend to wear subdued colors and wool fabric, so guests may want to leave the neon pink jumpsuits and flashy dresses at home.
- Stick to reusable bags: To reduce its impact on the environment, Ireland institutes a plastic bag fee and encourages the use of reusable bags. It's become so important to the environment and ingrained in the culture that it's considered poor taste to be seen with a plastic bag.
- Get handsy in public: Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Ireland, so senior travel club members may want to avoid kissing and embracing on the streets.
- Be offended by teasing: Also called "slagging," the art of making fun is common in Ireland, and a little light teasing is considered a sign of friendship.
- Talk about leprechauns: For many outsiders, Ireland conjures up images of these folklore fairies dressed in green coats and gold buckles; however, locals are often insulted by this stereotype and may be offended discussing it.
- Scream and shout: In general, the Irish are quiet and composed, and they are often irritated by people who display loud and aggressive behavior.
- Openly criticize the country: As with many other places, it's acceptable for the locals to badmouth Ireland, but they are generally offended when tourists do the same.
While etiquette is important for any trip seniors take, whether it's domestic or international, there's no reason to be overly concerned about offending the locals. Senior group travel members will find that the Irish are a very warm and welcoming people who greet visitors with open arms. And those who have questions about the regional customs can turn to their knowledgeable tour guide for answers.