The main reason that most of us enjoy travelling is because it’s fun. We get to see stunning sights, do fun activities and take a break from our daily lives where we can be a slave to routine.
But travel also has the ability to make us a more interesting and well-rounded person.
It can open our mind, show us a different perspective and allow us to understand and appreciate where we come from.
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One of the ways we can do this is by submerging ourselves in another culture, learning about how life is for different people and appreciating and understanding different customs and lifestyles across the globe.
Whether you’re travelling for a few weeks or months on end, here are some of the things you could aim to do to consume culture while you’re away.
Meet New People
In your daily life, there might not be a whole lot of opportunity to meet new people.
You see the same faces at work, you have a close friendship group and you see the same family members.
But meeting new people is what makes life interesting, so when you’re away try and speak with as many as you can.
Chat to the locals, find out about their lives and aim to learn more. Chat with vendors, market stall workers, waiting staff, taxi drivers.
Just be social and find out about the people that live in the destination you’re visiting.
Meeting other travellers like yourself and chatting about their experiences and findings of the destination is also worthwhile.
You can use social media and look on online forums as a way to meet people while you’re travelling, and often it will be the people you speak to along the way that really make the trip special.
See a Performance
It could be a show at a theatre, an outdoor performance, a circus, a local musician or acting group performance or anything else that’s on offer.
Theatre, music and performance are great ways to get a glimpse into the culture of others.
Check out lists of shows before you go and where possible pop one on your itinerary.
Not only is it fun but it’s another way you can find out more about the culture – pay attention to the colours, songs, dancing and more.
According to the Guardian, performing arts provide a necessary opportunity to develop the skills of socialisation and communication required by a healthy democracy.
They can serve as a meeting place for the public, there is a definite relationship between theatre and citizenship.
As a tourist, you can take an objective view on this as a way to understand and appreciate the culture through performance.
Try The Local Cuisine
If there’s one way to get to the heart of a culture it’s by tasting its food.
Ingredients, cooking methods and techniques will have been perfected over centuries, and passed down through generations.
Many places consider their food to be absolutely integral to their culture, but wherever you go, you will get an insight into your destination.
Go to markets and eat delicious food from street food vendors. Go into cafes and restaurants of varying budgets.
If possible, buy some fresh ingredients and cook some dishes yourself. For example, if you were in Australia you could purchase some local meat and seafood and cook it on the barbeque.
Learn About Religion
Whether or not you’re a religious person and what religion you believe in, there’s no denying that this is still a highly important part of many people’s lives.
We all know that it’s important to respect the beliefs of others, and so religion is worth looking into and learning about when you visit different places in the world even if the views of its believers and different to yours.
Some religions are centuries old, and for some cultures around the world their religious beliefs are integral to their lifestyle.
It can affect their laws, what they eat, what they wear and much more.
You can learn more by chatting with locals, and visiting religious buildings (many of which will be open to the public) and finding out about their specific beliefs.
This can be incredibly interesting and can open your mind to all kinds of possibilities.It can help you to understand the culture of the place you’re in.
Even in places like the UK where religion isn’t necessarily a large part of many people’s lives, places like churches and abbeys can provide a fascinating insight to the past as well as the current position of religion in the country.
Go to a Festival
Vibrant and exciting, festivals are a celebration and can be for anything from music to art to religion to food.
If the destination you’re visiting has an annual festival then see if you can visit when it’s on so that you can attend.
With different stalls, decorations and excitement it could well be the highlight of your trip.
An annual festival in a town, country or city will often be linked to its roots, what it’s famous for or what the current citizens and tourists most enjoy.
Sing, dance, eat and be entertained – and soak up the spirit of whatever the festival is celebrating.
It could be anything from the BFI London Film Festival to Coachella in California, it could be the Cannstatter Volksfest beer festival in Germany or Panagbenga which is a flower festival representing the ‘season of blooming’ in the Philippines.
Look at Dress and Clothing
Clothing is a huge part of culture. It could be clothing that’s worn due to religious reasons, for example burkas in Islamic traditions cover the body and face as the Quran calls for modesty.
It could be the high fashion observed in places like Milan and Paris which are centred around designers, catwalks and fashion which filters down to the general public.
It could be Geishas with their long robes and distinctive makeup.
Not only do you need to check that your own wardrobe is ok for certain places in the world.
For example, you might not be permitted to wear very skimpy clothing or have a lot of skin on show in more modest cultures.
But observing the dress of the general public, entertainers and more will all give you a glimpse into the location’s culture.
Observe the Languages and Ethnic Mixes of Locals
You don’t have to learn a language to be able to appreciate the culture of a place.
But listening out for the language, or in some cases mix of languages can be an interesting way to appreciate the culture.
Observing the ethnicities of the locals is also a good way to find out more about the culture.
Take places like Amsterdam, New York and Singapore which all have an ethnically diverse mix.
A little research will help you to understand how, why and when immigrants first came to the destination, and how that has affected things like language, food and other aspects of the culture after multiple generations.
Culture is an incredibly interesting thing, made up of many different elements which come together to explain the past, present and future of a destination.
When you understand the culture of others it can really open your eyes, and can actually help you to understand yourself and where you come from better too.
Keep this in mind next time you go away and try to incorporate as much culture into your trip as you can.
How do you make sure you’re consuming culture and appreciating every location you visit when you’re travelling?
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