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How to Get the Most Culture out of Your Travel Experiences

By Features Desk

Thursday, August 3, 2017.

Some travellers want their plane to touch down on the tarmac, experience the uplifting and promotional side of their destination and then fly off again with lovely memories that resemble a picture on the back of a postcard. Others want a deeper, more meaningful experience in a new country, where they have the chance to experience and understand local life and culture – both the good and the bad. If you’re up for more than a picture-perfect beach destination and care to venture a little more off the tourist track, here are some tips to get the most out of your time away.

Do the research

The most important thing you can do to add quality and depth to your holiday is to do research well in advance of booking. This means not only deciding what local sites to visit or foods to try when you arrive but also making decisions about where to go. You should consider locations where it is safe for travellers to venture outside the tourist trail and where your country has an embassy that can assist should you get into trouble. Once you’ve picked a destination, visit travel websites that will give you a sense of where tourists are heading, but then dig deeper. Search for forums and blogs that give specific details about the most amazing, but hard to find, jazz club in Havana or the best seafood paella in Madrid known only by locals. Knowing the local hotspots in advance will take a lot of stress out of your off-the-beaten-path vacation.

Stay with a local family

If you think you’d like a more authentic experience than a stay in a 4-star hotel, then consider staying with a local host family. This will give you a deeper appreciation for the housing, lifestyle, relationships, and foods that define a culture. It is also a more reliable way to get resident recommendations for what to see, do and eat. Host families are often very protective of their guests, which can be a good or bad thing. They can help you safely navigate your new location with tips on how to avoid the usual tourist trappings. Make sure you know the house rules in advance though, so that you aren’t setting yourself up for disappointment should your hosts expect you back home long before your normal bedtime.  

Consider a long-term commitment

Like how the locals live? Consider a longer-term stay in your desired destination. Some countries offer multi-year work visas or easy routes to residency and citizenship. Like the idea of feasting on Italian pasta like a local for the foreseeable future? Find out if you qualify for Italian dual citizenship. While you should never overstay a visa, every country has different rules and options for how and when you can extend your stay, so seek answers from reliable sources to ensure you’re properly informed about your options.

While not all travel has to be an intensive cultural experience, some travellers do want the opportunity to see a country from a more authentic, local side. Just remember, no matter where you go or what you do, be safe and have fun!

How to get the most culture out of your travel experiences

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