Photo by Tina Keller

I’ll be honest –

I’ve always been a little skeptical about the cross-cultural etiquette advice that crops up in guidebooks and on travel sites across the web.

The guidelines offered tend to be a little too black-and-white for me.

When a guide is written by one “expert” (usually a foreigner) there is not always room for nuance, for variations across society, or for the host’s understanding that visitors are just that: visitors, and therefore allowed some cultural leeway.

For example (and this is my personal hang-up, as a lefty): Will every single person in India really be horrified if you use your left hand to eat or, say, touch your face – or does the strength of the tradition vary according to education and income levels, rural vs. urban divides, and so on?

I was thrilled to hear about CultureCrossing.net, because it addresses exactly those concerns.

Culture Crossing is more of a travel etiquette wiki than a strict guide – the advice is constantly evolving, created and added upon by community members who also have the option of interacting with each other directly.

Got a question not fully addressed in the guide? You can ask the relevant community members directly, or post a question in the forums, for the whole group to discuss.

Like Matador, Culture Crossing is harnessing the interactive aspects of the internet not only to spread useful travel information, but to create dialogue, community and greater understanding.

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