Traveling is a wonderfully enriching experience. Getting the feel of a country, feasting your eyes on its landscape, getting to know the people and traditions are all adventures of a kind that is well worth the money you spend. However, lots of people are left wondering how to best soak up a culture when visiting a new place.
There are certain things you can do before embarking on your trip. Festivals are a great time to interact with the people and learn about their culture. A quick internet search will tell you which festivals are celebrated in the country you are visiting. Try to schedule your trip during the festive season. However, prices tend to increase at these times, so it might not always be feasible. A great alternative is to stay with a local instead of booking a hotel. Look for hostelries or rent a room through a couch-surfing website. These are great ways to meet people and your host might even take you around and explain the culture. Showing respect for the local culture will win you many friends, so do carry out a basic research on the etiquette of the places you will visit.
Most people visit famous monuments and tourist hotspots while traveling. Though these are not to be missed, look for further opportunities to make sure it does not turn out to be a cookie-cutter holiday. See an opera in Italy or a Kathakali dance performance in India. Picking up a skill or art can be a good way to immerse yourself into a culture. Join a belly dance class in Turkey and learn to shimmy to the jangle of coin-belts. Learn how to make traditional jewelry or handicrafts for beautiful souvenirs for friends. Ask your host or the friendly chef at the neighborhood cafe to teach you how to prepare a local dish that you can make back at home. Finally, make sure you leave something behind too- tell your new friends about your country, carry a gift from home for the person who has been so kind as to rent out a room to you. This kind of give and take will help you not just visit a country, but experience it as well.
Foto von: Dmitry Nikolaev – Fotolia