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September 27, 2019
Tips for Enjoying A Cultural Immersion Trip
Travellers have many different reasons for leaving the comfort of their home to explore new destinations. For some, it is to relax or bond with family. For others, travel is used to fuel an endless curiosity of foreign landscapes, cultures, history, and wildlife.
At WhirlAway Travel we truly believe that no matter what your reason is for travelling, opening our minds and hearts to appreciate the diversity that makes us all unique is essential for the future of our world. Here are my recommendations for fueling your curiosity and, in turn, making our world a better place.
1. Learn phrases in the local language. Having the ability to communicate facilitates deeper interactions and shows an interest in the people and a greater effort to connect. Don’t worry if your pronunciation is not quite right; your effort will be appreciated by the locals.
2. While everyone requests non-touristy experiences, don’t discount popular sites. Tourist attractions become popular for a good reason—they are worth seeing and learning about and can give great insight into local history, culture, and art.
3. Waitstaff, shop owners, and doormen are all wonderful locals to connect with for recommendations of off the beaten path experiences and places of interest that are also friendly to foreigners.
4. Cruising is a great way to get a taste of many destinations but can hinder a deeper dive into the local culture. To get the best of both worlds, hire a private driver and guide to bypass the motor coach excursions and get off the beaten path. Intimate and hidden gem towns, restaurants, and sites maintain their authenticity by being less accessible to the masses. Would you rather find yourself sipping fine wine overlooking the rolling vineyards of Tuscany, or be lined up in a room with 50 two-buck chuck wine aficionados tasting something that can be bought in the state store back home?
5. Seek out opportunities to interact with locals: arrange a market tour with a local followed by a cooking experience in your guide’s home; attend events that locals attend such as community markets, seasonal celebrations and concerts; or add a few days to your trip for volunteering and cultural immersion with an organization like Me To We which operates programs that support communities in Kenya, Ecuador, and India.
6. Finally, drop the preconceived notions about the people, cultures, and communities you are visiting. Open your mind and your heart to truly learn about others. You will return home a changed person who will hopefully have had a similar impact on those you encountered on your journey.
Written by Jamie Jones