When you travel abroad to foreign destinations, the experience is often filtered by the tourist industry. In other words, tourists are mainly directed to activities and locations that minimize the encounters with the natives in their authentic environment. Tourists are primarily restricted to resorts and beaches and intentionally kept from visiting the villages and communities of the local inhabitants. This is done in part to keep the façade of paradise intact for the traveler by keeping them clear of exposure to the often-impoverished lifestyle of the natives. However, with a little exploration, you can interact with the rich cultures of the places you visit. Here’s our roundup of 8 tips to enjoy foreign culture while traveling.
#1 Learn About Cultural Etiquette and Customs
The first thing that must be done is to learn as much as you can about the etiquette and customs of the people in the area you are visiting. It is surprising how offense some basic things that are done by westerners can be to people of different cultures. So, study about the local etiquette and customs before deciding to engage will natives of foreign places.
#2 Learn the Language
An excellent way to begin getting a taste of other’s culture is to learn the local language. Before you depart, learn some conversational phrases that will make it easier to speak to the native speakers when you arrive. There are also smartphone apps that can help you translate when you are having conversations with the locals.
#3 Meet the Locals
Take every opportunity to make contact will local people that seem friendly and open to speak to tourists. It is often charming to native speakers see foreigners give their best effort to learn their language. Learn to ask fundamental questions about finding good restaurants, bathrooms, enjoyable activities. Have your conversational phrases ready before approaching native speakers.
#4 Take Public Transportation
Public transportation is a beautiful way to find friendly locals. Taking subway trains and buses can give you a chance to see local sites and find friendly locals that can offer some useful tips to help you have a more meaningful cultural experience. Always be mindful of where you are traveling and the potential for crime in any given area. If you are in an area that is not particularly certain, make sure to get back to an area that you feel safe immediately.
#5 Take the Road Less Traveled
When you are on tours organized by commercial tourism companies, tend to make it a point to tailor their experiences for tourists around shops and restaurants explicitly designed for tourists. You will be surprised what you might see just minutes off of the beaten path. Locals that you see in tourist areas will likely be able to tell you what lies just beyond the areas intended for tourists.
#6 Stay with a Host Family
If you are traveling with small children, it is best to stay at some of the best family-friendly resorts rather than expose your little ones to an uncertain and unknown situation. However, if you really want to immerse yourself in the local culture, you can stay with a host family or local bed and breakfast. Staying with a local family will give you glimpse into what it is like to truly live in another place.
# 7 Enjoy Local Cuisine
Enjoying the local cuisine is a way to make your local experience enriching and authentic. Get familiar with some of the traditional dishes and the ingredients before reaching your destination. Depending on where you travel, there may be some ingredients used that you might not be fond of or even willing to eat. For the most part, if you are eating in a respected establishment, the dishes will be a genuine treat.
#8 Use a Tourism Company with a Cultural Immersion Program
Cultural immersion is the name given to the practice of engaging with the local culture of the foreign destination you are traveling to. These programs take small groups on experiences that are catered to those wishing to become immersed in native culture. It is becoming increasingly popular for travelers to want to see what it is honestly like to witness how the native residents live.
When traveling to a foreign destination, there is nothing like enjoying the authentic richness of the local culture. Many travelers often regret not being able to explore how the locals live during their trip indeed. If you are one of these travelers, use the tips we have discussed to have a thoroughly enriching cultural experience during your next foreign vacation.