Though people go on vacations for many different reasons, one of the most common reasons is to get the chance to experience other cultures. Sometimes, you go on a trip abroad, and after a few months from coming back, it would seem as though you knew no more about the destination than before you visited. This is because you didn’t make that trip unique and memorable by absorbing the destination’s local culture. You can learn more about a new place by seeking out the people, places, and activities. With that said, here are a few tips to get the best intercultural experience through traveling:
Embrace the Food
One sure way to get the best intercultural experience is by tasting new foods during your journey. When you travel to a new place, you should sample the unique cuisine around you. The best advice you can follow when trying new foods is to do away with the internet when looking for restaurants. Instead, either ask the locals for recommendations or simply walk around to restaurants and cafes to see what they have to eat. If you really want to expand your palette, you could also go on a food tour or enroll in a cooking class while there.
Partake in Local Activities
Apart from sampling the local cuisine, there are other things you can do to have more intercultural experiences while traveling. You can visit local museums to experience more of the history, join a dancing class, or even go shopping at local stores. Another idea is to dress in the clothing the locals enjoy wearing. For example, if you are touring traditional places in Japan or Korea, you can try wearing a kimono or hanbok.
When most people go on vacations to places they have never been to, they do some shopping. They visit dozens of tourist souvenir shops to buy basically what everyone else buys – t-shirts, bags, and maybe some shoes or a hat. Instead of purchasing the same old things, why not purchase items that have stories to tell? When you buy from the local craftsmen, you are directly recognizing their skills and supporting them. The best way to shop at all of the best spots is to drive around the town. Luckily, you can easily borrow a car if you have an international driving permit.
Take Some Tours Outside of the City
When you travel to a new place, it’s true that you need to stay where people are for safety reasons. However, you can exercise some caution while making experiences in areas that are off the beaten path. Staying in the city all the time may not give you the intercultural experience you are looking for. Sometimes you need to venture beyond the city because the suburbs and countryside often have different lifestyles and traditions.
Try to Learn Some of the Local Language
A huge thing that separates one culture from the other is the language. Depending on how long you are abroad, you can decide how much you want to practice and perfect the local language. The locals may be willing and even excited to teach a foreigner their language if they see that you are interested in learning. Learning the local language will help you engage more with your host community while traveling around. Many volunteer destinations offer one-on-one tutoring so you can learn the language from a native speaker while providing the locals with English lessons.
To get the best intercultural experience while traveling, you will need to immerse yourself in the local culture of your host community. Experiencing everything will take time, and usually, you get the temptation to move around quickly and see many places, but it is advisable to give yourself enough time in every destination you visit to really embrace the culture.