Hello, please, excuse me, thank you, and goodbye are the most important words when traveling. If you can learn those four words in the native tongue of the country you are in, you will have a successful trip.
Most of the time, when people ask us about our travels they ask if the people in the other countries were rude. With the exception of one thing, which is the source of most customer service rudeness in this country, we have never been treated rudely. Most Americans that are treated rudely are because they expect things to be like America. Chain restaurants, for example, are an offshoot of Henry Ford’s assembly line. They are designed to get you your meal in a quick and timely fashion so your table can be filled by someone else in a quick and timely fashion. If you understand that the meal in Europe revolves around conversation just as much as it does food, then you will understand why your waiter is absent for most of the meal. Plus, if you learn those four words of the language you are in, you will see a change in how people deal with you. They see that you are trying to meet them half way. I even noticed that if we asked people if they spoke English in French and Italian, they were even extra nice.
Most people that you will deal with realize that their way of life depends on your dollars. They don’t want to be rude. However, it does happen, and it most probably will happen over money. If you did your research, you will know what is the cheapest subway pass to buy or museum ticket pass to buy. However, just like in America, they will try to up sell you a more expensive way of doing something. They will try holding you being an American as you not knowing better. Yet, if you just insist and say please and thank you in their language and smile, you will always win out.