I have just endured two four hour journeys listening to people shout at each other in a confined space. The context was I was travelling on a train in an Asian country where people speak in very low volumes. When they take a mobile phone call, they carefully do all they can to minimise noise. In this space, we were assaulted by people from a different cultural background whose speech volume was in complete disregard to those around them. Oblivious to the glances, glares and smouldering stares, they spoke at this volume for the entire ride. Of course, no one said a word to them because this would not be appropriate for this culture!
The volume at which we speak does vary from country to country. North Americans and Australians speak at a higher baseline volume than French people or Singaporeans! As well, British English speakers use volume to convey anger, but other countries use volume to command someone’s attention.
If my “friends” in the first example, had been riding on the subway in New York, their volume would have been fine.
When travelling, do a quick check of your volume. Are you creating pain for your hosts because you are too loud – or too quiet?