Mistakes to avoid when Traveling to Romania
When I travel to a new country, I read a bit about the culture and try to learn a few phrases. It’s both fun and interesting since what seems “normal” to me, might be perceived as offensive or weird in other countries. That’s why I love diversity. But because there is so much of it, we can make mistakes that we aren’t even aware of. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, here are a few mistakes to avoid when traveling to Romania:
1. Assume it’s all about gray blocks and communism.
Indeed, Romania was heavily influenced by the Soviet Union but was never part of it. Romania always admired Western Europe and constantly makes an effort to be more like it. We proudly call Bucharest “Little Paris”. Some of the old gray blocks are now painted in bright colors like orange and green. So if you want a local to roll their eyes and loose interest in an instant, tell them how Russian they sound and how communist-like their country seems to you.
2. Assuming public transportation will be on time.
This is very important when planning a trip. Always allow time for possible delays. In Romania, a 15 minutes delay on buses or trains is nothing. And these delays can grow into hours, especially in the winter. Something may break down, a road may be partially closed or there may be lots of traffic. Therefore, prepare yourself accordingly. Yes, we are happy when we arrive on time, but we always expect delays.
3. Not tipping.
In Romania tipping is a common practice. You tip the waiter, taxi, hairdresser, doctor, etc. This practice is based on the belief that if you leave a tip, you will receive better service. Either that or it is considered a gesture of appreciation. So when you go to a restaurant and you enjoy it, a 10% tip is fine. When you don;t leave a tip it means that you didn’t like the food or service.
4. Not montioring your belongings.
Unfortunately, pickpocketing is common, especially in the crowded, big cities. The good thing is that the thieves don’t attack you. Instead, they take advantage of you while you are distracted.
So there is no reason to be scared. Just pay attention to your belongings and don’t leave them unattended. Also be extra careful in crowded places, especially markets. I’ve never had any issues, in either Romania or other countries since this persoal awareness is a helpful “skill” for a traveler to develop.
5. Refuse an invitation.
Romanians are welcoming and chatty people who love foreigners. In the smaller cities or more rural areas, locals invite foreigners to their homes for a meal or a celebration. They take pride in their food and beverages, especially the home made ones. They will set the table with their finest plates and glasses, and even stare at you while you’re there. Therefore, you should eat everything on your plate because it shows that you liked the food. Also expect personal questions, because honestly, we don’t care about the weather. Though it might seem awkward, Romanians want you to have a great experience and they are curious about you. I think it’s one of the best ways to experience genuine Romanian culture, and if you come across the opportunity, don’t say no!
6. Laugh at religion.
The major religion in this country is Romanian Orthodox Christianity. Middle aged and older people tend to be more religious,but Romania still has a lot of churches and peregrines to holy places and relics. It may sound odd, but religion is a big industry in Romania. It accommodates and promotes all religious celebrations, large annual pilgrimages, along with the selling of crosses, candles, and even icons. Currently, the building of the People Salvation Cathedral, the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world, is a heavily debated topic.
A BIG thanks to Daniela Stoian for all her hard work!
Meet Daniela! She loves traveling and exploring new places. She goes on a trip every month, some closer, some further. She recently started a travel blog to share what she saw and learned on the way and to inspire more people to travel.