4. QUIET DOWN
Although this is more a section for visitors from the United States, I feel it's an important one, anyway. One of the most humiliating things about traveling to other parts of the world is other travelers from the United States. They're not just loud, but obnoxiously so--crass, rude, entitled, and shouting it. The sound of their American accent is always the most audible in their immediate vicinity. This is why I usually say I'm from New York, not the United States, in hopes that people will recognize the difference.
No, I do not hate my fellow countrymen and women. I also have no problem with having lots of fun while on vacation. But I do feel that when traveling, we have some obligation to represent our country and not only ourselves. I wish more people would do so by behaving like civilized adults at volumes appropriate to various situations.
No one wants to hear your business. No one cares. I'm not certain which is more irritating, shouting your business across a subway or metro car in a place where most everyone speaks English, or in a place where few people do. While overhearing a loud conversation in a foreign language is still sound pollution, at least you have the benefit of not being distracted by the conversation's content. In the age of text messaging, there is also really no excuse for screaming at your friends across a busy city street, either. I won't even bother to discuss cellphone etiquette in this regard. Enough lip service has been paid to that elsewhere.
What the loudness actually says is, "LOOK AT MEEE!" Well, we've already seen enough people today. We don't really want to be forced to pay attention to you and your loud conversation. Keep it to yourself, unless you happen to be running around the park or have gone to a Rock concert, sporting event, or nightclub.
©2012, Ryan Witte
5. Speak English