During this turbulent time of social upheaval and a rocky political climate, there is no better time to absorb the different cultures you come across upon your travels than now. This global feeling of unrest could inspire in you a curiosity and willingness to learn that will make your travels even more enjoyable.
The best way to travel is to dig deep into the roots of the location and explore the culture, tradition and heritage of a place. This can be done in a number of ways including learning from art, literature, food and nature, but at its core should always be interacting with the locals. Traveling in this way will make for a more colorful and vibrant experience.
It’s easy to take the gift of travel for granted, so here are a few simple tips to keep you mindful of your sense of place:
Take a cooking class
Some of us best experience life through what we eat. A well-trained nose can figure out exactly where in the world it is by not only the smell of the herbs and spices, but also by the beginnings of every meal: a French mirepoix, an Italian soffritto, a Spanish sofrito, an American holy trinity, or the Indian version of this base. An excellent culinary way to dip your toes into a culture is not just by eating out in restaurants, but by finding a cooking class run by locals. If you can’t find this offered anywhere in particular, then perhaps try arranging it yourself – you’d be surprised how many people would say yes to an evening of exchanging traditional recipes and cooking with a stranger!
Another good way to immerse yourself in a culture is to travel alone. This way, you become more open to new experiences and you begin to say yes to things that require you to step outside your comfort zone.
You’ll find that when alone, the linguistic or cultural borders that may usually prevent you from reaching out to people or starting conversation will become less of a deal and your desire for company will prevail. Another advantage of this is that you’ll challenge your preconceptions of a place or people. Of course remember to be safe throughout your journey, and try to reduce travel anxiety before leaving.
Avoid the chains
Depending on where you’re traveling to, there will often be a number of familiar chain restaurants, shops, bars or hotels that can be seen in every world capital. By avoiding these, you may open yourself up to a more local experience. Avoid the food and hotel chains altogether, and opt for a boutique luxury hotel or rural guesthouse, a local corner café, or a street food market. Although the familiar is comfortable, try to experience something different, not the same.
Take public transport
By taking public transport you are automatically opting for a more diverse experience than you would gain from taking a taxi directly from point A to point B. Why not choose to see thousands of faces from many different walks of life rather than just one? In doing so, you will also have to walk a bit more, and there is no better way to get to know a place than by foot.