Experiencing different cultures is one of the main reasons I travel. I love feeling immersed in something different or familiar and trying new-to-me things. I also believe this is a great way to open my mind to different ways of life and to allow Baby ISO to experience the world, even as a toddler.
1) BookALokal, BonAppetour, street food, and tastings
Some of my favorite memories from traveling come from eating a meal cooked by a local. BookaLokal and BonAppetour are companies that help you to connect with locals who open their homes to visitors looking to learn about culture through food and conversations. J and I have experienced wonderful BookALokal experiences in Athens and Madrid. Thus, this has to be my top suggestion for meeting with locals to learn about culture, particularly while sharing a delicious meal.
If a BookALokal or BonAppetour experience isn't on offer (or is too pricey), street food and tastings options might abound. In China, I loved experiencing tea tastings, while in Lithuania, coffee tastings are prevalent. A quick Google search will let you know what to expect in every different destination.
|Tea tasting in Kunming, Yunnan, China|
2) Rental apartment
I'm a bit nosy when it comes to how people live around the world, so booking a rental apartment through Airbnb or Booking.com allows me to have more than a peak inside an apartment. We've learned the hard way that you need to be picky when it comes to selecting an apartment (watch out for ones hosted by companies!), but sometimes you can luck out with a wonderful accommodation and excellent hosts.
Who doesn't like a bit of people-watching, am I right? Since I've started contributing to Travel Fashion Girl, I've been finding myself paying much more attention to the different fashion trends in each destination I visit. For example, here in Bari, Italy, where I'm currently writing from, I've been noticing chic women wearing very flattering palazzo jeans with fitted shirts and masculine shoes. Paying attention to these little trends is simple and easy to do when traveling and puts you at least a touch in-tune with a piece of local culture.
4) Free walking tours
I love free walking tours--they are reasonably easy with a child and they give you the opportunity to learn more about a destination. I always look for free walking tours while traveling, and often they can be pretty easy to find. So, I'd absolutely suggest looking for a walking tour where ever you go.
--> The free walking tours in Vilnius and Tallinn are really well done. I play on trying the tour in Riga this spring, so I'll let you know how it is!
5) Talk to people
Though sometimes a language barrier prevents in depth conversations, talking to people is obviously one of the best ways to learn about culture. It is simple to exchange a few words with someone at a cafe, a hotel concierge, or a serve at a restaurant.
Okay, museums aren't for everyone, but some museums do provide excellent insight into the local culture. For any visitor to Lithuania, I have to suggest spending a few hours at the KGB Museum in Vilnius and/or the 9th Fort in Kaunas. These museums provide visitors with an understanding of the recent tragedies that recently faced Lithuania.
Though I love to read, picking up a book about a certain destination that I'm visiting (or dream of visiting) is a bit of a new one for me. I'm currently reading a book set in Malaysia--The Garden of Evening Mists, which has instantly transported me to stunning gardens and tea plantations set in Malaysia's mountains. Even if you aren't traveling, you can pick up a book to learn more about the culture in your home or in a destination you'd like to visit soon.
8) Visit a market
Visiting a market is a totally simple option that only takes an hour out of your trip, but will allow you to experience a bit of local culture through observing people and the type of produce available. From the famous La Boqueria in Barcelona to the more local Kalvariu Market in Vilnius, there will certainly be options anywhere you go.
9) Street art
I love, love street art. It allows a little peek into the counter-culture of a destination. For example, the painting of Putin and Trump making out in Vilnius (the was painted during the election), was rather newsworthy! What bits of street art can you find while visiting a city?
|Street art by one of my favorite artists (Athens)|
10) Visit a place of worship
From Buddhist temples to Greek Orthodox Churches, I like to visit them all! Even during a weekend getaway or a stopover, visitors can seek the chance to visit a place of worship to learn a bit about the people who live in that region.
|Temple in Kunming|
How do you learn about local culture when you travel? What else can be added to this list?