I’m a big fan of cultural travel, but I know it can seem daunting if you don’t have much experience with it. So here are some tips to help you have an awesome time exploring another country:
Ignore the tour guides.
Tour guides are great, but they have a job to do. They know how to give you the information that you need in order for your group to feel like they got their money’s worth out of the trip. If you want to learn more about what it’s like for locals and how different parts of life work in other cultures, talk with people on the street or read local newspapers and magazines (or watch TV). You can also try going on local radio shows or reading literature written by authors who live there–these mediums are less likely than tour guides’ talks at museums or monuments to be tailored toward tourists’ expectations.
Be like a local.
- Be open to new experiences. When you travel, you’re going to encounter some things that may be completely foreign to you. That’s good! It means that your mind is expanding and learning new things about the world around us. Try not to judge too quickly on what is “normal” or “abnormal” for other cultures; instead, look at every situation as an opportunity for learning.
- Be curious about everything around you by asking questions and making observations about what people do differently than how things work back home (if applicable). It doesn’t matter where in the world this takes place–it could be something as small as how someone orders coffee or something as big as celebrating their holidays differently than those celebrated in America–but by being curious about these differences, we can begin understanding why they exist without passing judgement on them before even trying them out first hand (which could lead us down a path where we miss out on some amazing opportunities).
- Try understanding customs/traditions outside our comfort zones so we can better understand why people do certain things in certain ways throughout history rather than simply dismissing them outright based solely upon personal preferences alone.”
Be a foodie!
When you’re traveling to a new place, it’s important to be a foodie. You should try local food and find out what the locals eat. If possible, visit some of the most popular restaurants in town and order what they recommend. Pay attention to how ingredients are used in each dish; this will help you learn about their culture through their cuisine.
If cooking at home isn’t an option (or if you just want another challenge), consider taking classes at one of many culinary schools around the world that offer cultural classes with an emphasis on local traditions (like these ones).
Get away from the touristy areas.
If you’re going to take the time and money to travel, then make sure it’s worth it.
You don’t want your trip to be just another photo album of places that look like home. You want an experience that will leave you with stories and memories–the kinds of things people talk about at parties when they ask “Where did you go on holiday?” or “What was your favorite place?”
If all of your travels have been spent in touristy areas where everything is designed around making money off of tourists, then chances are good that this kind of conversation will never happen for us mere mortals who don’t get paid by the hour or day like professional travelers do (or people who write books).
Don’t bother with museums or monuments (for now).
If you’re traveling to a new place, don’t bother with museums or monuments (for now). The vast majority of museums are not worth the time. They are often underfunded, poorly curated and uninspiring. If you want to learn about the country’s history and culture, there are better ways to do it than by spending hours looking at dusty artifacts in glass cases.
The same goes for monuments: most aren’t worth the effort or money required to see them. Most monuments are either not original structures or have been heavily renovated since their construction–and often both! Monuments can also be very overrated; if everyone else loves something then maybe it isn’t all that special after all?
Learn how to say “no” in the local language.
When you’re traveling in a foreign country, there will be plenty of opportunities to say “yes”. Sometimes it’s hard to turn down an invitation or pass up a sale. But if you’re really trying to immerse yourself in local culture and customs, then saying “no” can actually be one of the best ways for you do so. After all: how can you learn about what makes people tick if they don’t know how much time or money (or both) they have?
The next time someone asks if you want something or would like to go somewhere, try politely declining by saying “I’m sorry but I’m afraid I cannot”–and then explain why! You might even want to practice this phrase beforehand so that if someone asks where their jacket went after being put on hold at the dry cleaner’s counter while talking on their cell phone with another customer who needs help finding something specific within minutes before closing time…you’ll have no problem saying no thanks anyway thanks anyway bye now bye now bye also good luck finding anything today because everything looks exactly alike here.”
Never forget that you are just a tourist and not an expert on the country you’re visiting, so don’t try to be one!
You are a tourist, not an expert on the country you’re visiting. You shouldn’t be trying to act like an expert or tell other people how they should behave in their own country. If you want to learn more about the culture of a place, ask someone who lives there!
If you don’t understand why something is done in a certain way or how it came about, don’t assume that everyone else is just ignorant or wrong–it could be a matter of cultural difference rather than stupidity on their part (or yours). Be humble and admit when something isn’t making sense; instead of judging others’ ways as inferior or backwards, try asking questions until everything clicks into place for yourself!
These tips will help you enjoy your trip more and make more lasting connections with locals and culture!
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
- Don’t be afraid to get lost
- Don’t be afraid to try new things 5.. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability
If you follow these tips, you’ll have a better time and make more lasting connections with locals and culture. You’ll also be able to go back home feeling like an expert on how to travel responsibly and respectfully!