There are some fantastic sights to see when traveling the world. From the great wonders of the world to learning about a nation’s history, there’s no end to the ways you can expand your mind while on the road.
However, there are other ways to experience another culture when traveling, too. Often, these involve immersing yourself in the local culture by digging deeper in your research on what to do in that specific country.
How to Embrace Different Cultures When Travelling
There’s nothing quite like learning the way of another culture. Let’s look at how to do this.
1. Take Your Time
Often, there’s an unspoken hurriedness about traveling. However, if you want to appreciate the culture, you need to try doing the opposite and relax.
Parks are a great place to start with this – you can take your time meandering around them. Additionally, you may come across a bit of history, too.
Istanbul is known for its public parks. They’re a great way to get in amongst the locals and do some people watching. There’s nothing like slowing right down, taking a stroll and seeing the nature of people come to life in another country.
2. Get an Apartment
We all know that it’s the tourist’s thing to book a hotel or hostel. While they are convenient and cheap, they won’t necessarily show you the local side of things.
While hostels are great and help you to connect with other travelers, you often end up limited to that clique.
Korea is a great place to try renting an apartment for the duration of your stay. You never know – you may end up getting along well with your landlord and experience a bit of Korean culture through encounters with them.
3. Visit the Food Market
If you want to get to know a country and its culture, aim for the stomach. There’s nothing like learning about the nature of other people through trying their cuisine.
Another reason why your local food market is a great way to learn about the culture is that, if you visit it enough, you’ll be able to strike up conversations with the locals.
Moscow, for example, is heavy on the pickles. You’ve got a much better chance of learning this through the old lady at the local market than you do at McDonald’s.
4. Use Public Transportation
While you may be used to taxis or renting a car, there’s nothing about this to add to your local insights. Instead, try getting around the city you’re visiting in the same way the locals do – on public transport.
Istanbul, like many other cities, has a sophisticated public transport system. They even have little customs included on public transport.
If you go on a ferry in Istanbul, there’s a good chance you’ll be offered the chai tea service. Through this, you can learn a lot about Istanbul’s rich culture around tea making and cuisine.
5. Try Walking Everywhere
If you don’t do so good on public transport, why not getting your walking shoes on and get about town this way?
One of the best places to walk is in New York. Yes, there are a seemingly infinite amount of taxis to take you anywhere you need. However, this won’t allow you to see the local culture – you’ll only get stuck in traffic.
Getting out and going for a walk will allow you to go at your own pace, and see things you would have missed otherwise. There’s nothing like walking around a bustling city like New York to increase your chances of connecting with the locals and learning about the culture.
6. Volunteer Abroad
While there are many great things about countries around the world, they all have their problems.
There’s always somewhere, something or someone who could benefit from your support and time. There are also some excellent organizations out there who can help to connect you with people who, like you, want to make a difference in communities abroad.
This will help you getting closer to the locals and give you a better understanding of their way of life, and what sometimes makes it a challenge.
7. Do a Safari
This next tip may sound counter-intuitive. To a lot of people, going on a safari in Tanzania may sound quite touristy. However, a lot of the time it’s easy to underestimate how effective it is at immersing yourself in the culture.
The Tanzanian people are intriguing and fascinating. Their determination to remain loyal to their ancient culture and traditions provides essential insight for you as a tourist.
There are a number of great safari companies out there who will connect you to the Tanzanian people. This way, you can learn all about their culture – the use of witchcraft, their belief in the spirits of their ancestors, as well as other exciting customs.
8. Go Rural
While it might be tempting to stay in the city, there are so many more geographical locations to explore around the world.
While cities are often where the museums and art galleries are at, rural areas are much better known for their rituals, hospitality, and of course natural beauty.
Going rural and not following an itinerary too closely will give you a better chance of rubbing shoulders with the locals. This way you can find out more about the culture and the nature of the local people.
9. Street Stalls
Similar to visiting the market, it’s much better to seek out the lesser-known hole-in-the-walls and street stalls. This way, you’ll be able to experience real, authentic local cuisine and broaden your horizons.
When you’re away from home, and outside of your comfort zone, it can be tempting to head for the nearest Starbucks. However, while this may help you find what you know you like to eat, it won’t provide an opportunity to try new things.
Learning about other people’s culture and traditions is an exciting and sometimes scary thing. While it’s enriching and enlightening, it does require you to step outside of your comfort zone and take a chance.
However, if you do so, you’ll only be better for it. You’ll be able to say you’ve experienced new things and taken on a unique perspective that will open your mind as a whole.