Is there anything better than being able to explore the world? Taking in everything an exotic destination has to offer is such a sensational experience. And so, when it comes to travel, enjoying the best cultural experiences is second to none.
But how do you make that happen? And how can you guarantee that you’ll find the most sought after spots, off the beaten tracks, and meet the most impressionable people? Here’s how to do it.
Wherever you go in the world, one thing you should do is spend as much time as possible in a specific area. Many travellers make the mistake of having an extensive itinerary to go through in a very short timeframe. And it’s just not going to work.
Don’t just visit somewhere for a week or two. Spend a few weeks or months to really soak up the atmosphere and culture. You could even make it a working trip to pay for your food and accommodation while you’re there. It’s tempting, isn’t it?
Taking in a particular country’s culture isn’t about going to the usual tourist traps and seeing the major attractions. It’s also learning more about the communities there and the local way of life.
There’s no getting around the fact that every country on the planet has its fair share of problems. Even the wealthiest of Western nations experience issues like poverty, unemployment, exploitation, and substandard healthcare for poorer people.
One unique and memorable way to learn more about a country is by volunteering. Say you volunteer in Bali, you could make a difference by teaching English or working on conservation projects.
But in change for your do-gooding efforts, you’ll learn a lot too. You’ll learn about different cultures. About how people live their lives with limited resources. Or what people enjoy doing to give themselves and each other hope for the future. It’s inspiring.
It’s normal for us to stay at hotels or with friends and family, but why not consider renting out your own place for a bit? Move away from your reliance on others and get used to cooking your own meals and taking care of your own place.
This might sound like a bother to some people, but it forces you to treat your holiday a bit more like an experience instead of just a vacation. You’ll have to go out and buy ingredients from local markets, you’ll get to interact with locals, and you can get an idea of how people really live in the country that you visit.
Getting your own place for a while is easy as well. You could go the typical Airbnb route regardless of the country you visit, or you could consider looking at condos for rent in Bangkok, Thailand. There are loads of options available to you and you’ll find it a much more rewarding and down-to-earth experience compared to staying in a hotel or with friends and family
Let’s face it, driving to destinations a is convenient. It’s the simplest way to travel across a country. But you’re not exactly going to get the best cultural experience this way!
Yes, travelling by car across large expanses of land makes life easy. But, there’s a smarter way to do it. There’s no better way than walking to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Venture through closed off areas. Discover hidden gems. See things that can only be accessed on foot. And none of this can happen when you’re behind the wheel of a rental car.
And, if you really want to dip your toes into local life, hop on the bus. Public transport is an incredible way to soak up the cultural atmosphere. Travelling like a local will give you the chance to observe daily life in ways you could never experience by car or taxi.
Talking to people in the places that you visit is a sure-fire way to learn more about their lives. But listening is where it’s at. Don’t think. Don’t compare. Just take it all in.
Take the time to listen to the locals. Stop and let their stories sink in. It'll help you to gain a broader understanding of local life that you’ll seldom come across in any sort of travel post.
And, remember, when you speak to people, don’t always assume that everyone will speak perfect English. Make an effort to learn a few conversational words and phrases in the spoken language. Locals will appreciate this beyond belief.
Not sure where to start? Pick up a phrasebook or smartphone app to get started. And if you really want to work on your words, have a chat with the locals. It’ll improve your pronunciation and language in general.
It’s natural to want to stick to what you know. But really, what can you ever really achieve when you stay within your comfort zone?
So don’t be afraid to explore off the beaten track. One of the best things about travelling is getting out to the rural areas. Sure, towns are cities are picture-book perfect, but nothing beats a country’s natural beauty.
If you’re really after the local charm and spotting sights you’d never see in tourist traps, getting rural is where it’s at. Go further afield, visit somewhere exciting, and do your best to explore rather than end up in the more commonly known areas. It’ll always pay off.
And after all, when you want the best cultural experience, what could be better?
Are you a fan of cultural travel? How do you immerse yourself into a new culture when you explore the world? Share your tips with the SOCIÉTÉ community in the comments below.