“travel” (CC BY 2.0) by Sole Treadmill
Travelling is arguably easier now than it has been in the entirety of human history. Although there have been numerous periods of what we could call a proto-globalized world within the past 500 years, with the internet, consistently cheap airfare and generally good infrastructure, travel is more democratized than it has ever been. The only challenge nowadays is figuring out a way to make that trip a truly meaningful experience. And for our money, here are some of the most important tips.
Local food — love it or hate it, you should try it!
Food consumption is one thing that everyone across the world has in common, but how and what we cook can change every couple of miles. Everyone’s palate is influenced heavily by their upbringing and while dairy products like cheese might be too heavy for people from East Asia, for Westerners many Chinese dishes are too spicy. Nevertheless, getting a feel (or taste) of local culture is something you should definitely go for, at least once in every place you visit. Trying out street food—the fare of the average person—is a phenomenal way to have an authentic experience when abroad.
“Chinese food” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by mroach
Get in touch with the locals.
Going to a new country is a rewarding experience, but it can also be somewhat daunting without local knowledge and insight. Fostering local connections is the best way to get to know a place, be it being introduced to the best bar or insight into local political affairs. In many countries, there are local English-language papers like the newspaper franchise The Local. While the original Swedish paper is still going strong, it has opened editions in Germany, Austria, France, Spain and a few others.
Check out local sporting events.
Chances are that if the Olympics or soccer world cup is in town in your destination country you will have heard about it. But if it’s your first time in, say, Australia, you may not know the times for Australian Rules Football matches, or you may not even be sure what that’s all about. Local papers and betting sites are the best resources to see what’s on and what might provide you with an authentic local experience. The news section of betting sites will help you check the latest odds and see what events are on, while local papers could have listings for local sports or games that you’ve never heard even heard of, let alone watched. At any rate, catching a local game, match, bout, or whatever else can be a nice addition to a holiday.
“Australian Rules Football” (CC BY 2.0) by markehr
Learn a new language!
Integrating into a new culture, as much as is possible for a tourist, will never quite cut it. For the most authentic experience possible you’ll have to learn a local language. Clearly, it’s a bit unrealistic for someone to be expected to master Arabic for their all-inclusive trip to Hurghada, but even a couple of words and phrases like “Please,” “Thank you” and “Where is the train station?” can make a huge difference in turning a decent vacation into an amazing one.
There’s certainly no right or wrong way to travel, but I do think that making an effort to connect with local custom, tradition, and even the locals themselves. In my experience there’s nothing that makes a trip more rewarding or more memorable!