Experiencing the Culture of a destination is one of the most rewarding aspects of travel. Cultural experiences make memories that will last a lifetime. From learning about an ancient civilization’s way of life, participating in a local festival or as a member of the audience or playing with the children as you learn new ways and games. In addition to being great fun, immersing yourself in different cultures can also deepen your understanding and appreciation for your own culture back home.
Here are seven ways that you can experience the local culture on your tour:
1. Visit Someplace New
It gets old seeing the same clubs, drinking at the same bars, eating at the same restaurants, etc., night after night after night. You also get to know where everything is in each town – good spots for eats, drinks, and gas; best routes between venues; quickest ways out of town when you’re ready to hit I-80 East. There is no substitute for experiencing a new city – exploring, taking in the sights and sounds, meeting new people. Recently, I was at a truck stop on break reading Trucker Daily I decided right then and there I needed to go on a holiday. This thought came to mind as I really needed to go exploring and experience something new.
2. Taste New Food!
There are so many delicious ways to experience another culture through its cuisine. The dinner table is one of the best places to gain insight into local traditions beyond what’s presented at celebrations. You can also learn about religious beliefs by observing whether certain foods are forbidden or if meals are eaten in silence. Are you traveling with kids? Everyone will have fun trying exotic food together! Be sure to leave room for some of the sweet treats that are likely to be on offer too!
3. Visit With the Locals!
When you meet people who are actually from the town/city where you’re playing, they can tell you all kinds of cool things that’ll make your trip way more interesting (and enjoyable). Fans are also great sources for this sort of info – just straight-up ask them if they know any “under the radar” stuff unique to that area. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help you out.
4. Participate in a Festival or other Local Celebration
Festivals take place worldwide throughout the year and offer first-hand access to vibrant cultural traditions. Even if you don’t speak the language, you’ll have a wonderful time because these celebrations are also sensory experiences. You’ll enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of a new culture as you participate in food tasting, entertainment, and games. In North America, popular festivals to experience include Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, and Carnival in Brazil.
5. Observe Local Traditions
For those who prefer a more passive approach to experiencing another culture’s traditions, you can still have an impact on your tour by observing milestones such as birthdays and holidays. When abroad during a birthday or wedding anniversary celebration, your family can participate by singing Happy Birthday or giving gifts from back home. Special occasions provide an excellent opportunity for selfies–be sure not to intrude on private moments!
6. Volunteer to help others
Many communities around the world need assistance with environmental and humanitarian projects. Instead of sightseeing on your family’s next tour, why not spend a few days volunteering at an animal shelter, park, or community garden? These meaningful experiences will strengthen your children’s understanding and appreciation for another culture and connect you with local people while giving back to the communities that you visit.
7. Play Local Games with the Children
Kids are naturally curious about visitors to their country. A great way to start a conversation with them is by playing their favorite game together. You can also help them practice English or another language you speak. Just make sure to ask an adult first and follow any rules set out by your tour company.
The more you immerse yourself in another culture, the deeper your understanding–and appreciation–for it will become. With these five tips, you’ll learn more about new cultures than ever before on your next tour!