Don’t play the tourist ! How to embrace local cultures when traveling

pexels-photo-297755.jpegHi everyone !

Today is an exciting post as I announced on my Facebook page. I’m publishing my first collaboration on a joint article, how exciting ! Being both fond of travels, Lisa and I have decided to write for you guys an article giving you tips to better enjoy your holidays abroad and embrace the local culture and diversity once you’re there. I strongly suggest that you check out her blog From Dream to Plan here – I feel like you’ll definitely recognize that we share the same vibe and interests.

The magic of a travel is built through your choices, your activities, but also your behavior. Be nice and respectful of where you go ; be curious and engage with as many things and people as you can. Traveling can be such a rich experience, so be sure to enjoy it to the fullest. Here are our tips. Please, do share yours in the comments !

1 | Take part to local events

Each country, each city has its own festivities and special events; celebrations where something special is made for the occasion such as Oktoberfest in Germany, the carnival in Venice or the Queen’s day in Denmark. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to check before a trip if the days you’re there something unusual is going on to take part in in order to get a “real” taste of the local culture. Also, sometimes the events are not necessarily related to a special tradition, such as music festivals, but it’s still an interesting way to see how the locals participate and a chance to interact with them…which leads me to my second point :

2 | Interact with local people

Meeting people from different countries and cultures is always mind and eye-opening. Especially when you’re visiting a foreign country, knowing people who grew up there is an amazing way to discover their traditions, ways of living and the must-see which normal tourists won’t consider on their itinerary. Perhaps, if you have a friend living in that country it would be great if he/she could guide you around. You’ll realize that you will end up discovering probably way more things rather than going around by yourself following a map.

3 | Check out a supermarket

This might sound weird but, have you ever gone in a supermarket in a foreign country and notice how different or similar the products they sell are ? This might be an underestimated activity but it’s also a great way to get engaged in the local culture and know more about local habits. You might end up finding strange stuff or noticing that actually the things sold are not that different from your home country!

4 | Ask for the story behind a tradition

Going back to first point, each place has its own traditions and habits. In most cases all these are related to a story or legend behind it. Most of the times after discovering the actual story of a tradition you’ll be able to understand more about the culture and the meaning of the celebration. So talk, chat, ask, be curious about your surroundings: there’s nothing nicer than getting to know more about a place you’re visiting and comparing it to your own traditions!

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5 | Don’t follow the big pre-made itineraries

I know how secure it feels to have this thorough well-organized itinerary made from articles you found online about the best places to go to in a city. Even better, to just take an already made one from websites such as Le Guide du Routard, or from your travel agency. However, sometimes it’s worth leaving the big touristy attractions on the side to discover new smaller places. Take some initiatives to have an original trip, and google your way to a hidden gem ! Blogs are a great way to find alternative visit ideas.

6 | Swap your guide for locals’ advice

In that same light, going out with your hotel guide can be great if you tend to get lost easily and are into group trips. However you can usually find local guides through websites dedicated to that online, or go to the tourist information office to find someone willing to show you around. The visit will be much more pleasurable and definitely more personalized.

7 | Feel at home

I know that visiting a city is a cultural activity which requires organization and usually money. You often eat in a restaurant for lunch and/or dinner, you go to museums, check out several places during the day and walk many kilometers while taking pictures. A day abroad is probably not the same as a day in your home city. Nevertheless I’d like to stress to importance of feeling at home abroad: take time to wander and let go of the “visit pressure”.

You do not have to do everything in one day, and if you don’t have enough time to see all the historical landmarks, then so be it. You’ll come back ! After all, holidays should be stress-free and enjoyable, not about the pressure to see and do everything. So just behave like you would at home : do not wake up at 5am to jam everything into your day. Rather, have a nice breakfast in a cozy café, wander in the streets, do some window shopping, actually take time to have a cup of coffee or just read outside and enjoy.

8 | Play the cultural immersion game

This is probably one of my favorite tips when I go abroad. Even though we told you just before to act more relaxed and behave like at home, that does not mean that you should only go to big food chains and stores you know. Indeed, we’ve emphasize the importance to actually engage with the culture of the city you’re in, as well as the locals. So why not try to learn the language ?

And definitely go eat their specialties – that’s when learning the language can be useful, unless you feel adventurous and just order something randomly from the menu like I did once in Budapest (hungarian is very, very hard to learn, trust me…). If you’re the kind of person who likes to bring physical tokens from their trip, buy local artifacts rather than standardized objects you can find in all the big streets like the “I love” T shirts, mugs, key chains or magnets.

. . .

I’d like to thank again Lisa for the efficiency of our collaboration ! You can follow her here :

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7 thoughts on “Don’t play the tourist ! How to embrace local cultures when traveling

  1. Dippy-Dotty Girl says:

    Hey Manon, I arrived at your blog via Lisa’s. The tips are well put. I am particularly into sauntering into supermarkets. My husband finds it wonky but he admits later, always very reluctantly, that it yields excellent chocolate-y finds apart from my hauls of cheeses and condiments 🙂

    Like

    • vercoutermanon says:

      Oh that’s amazing ! I was in Paris a few days ago, my boyfriend lives there. Is it the first time you are going to Paris ? If you check out my articles in the tab “travels”, you’ll find a few things about Paris and its museums if you’re interested (with more to come). Have an amazing day & thank you for taking the time to comment, I love having feedback 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mackenzie says:

    This is such a wonderful post! While I do love getting out to museums, and doing some of the touristy stuff, my favorite thing to do when I travel is just try to blend in. I recently got back from Paris, and of course we did the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. However, my favorite part of the whole trip was randomly making friends with some people our age that were out on the town, and going back to their place to basically just hang out like I would hang out with my friends back home! It is so cool to see how similar people can be sometimes, even if they are on the other side of the world. People just want to live their lives.

    It is so important when traveling to accept that this place is not your place. They might not have ranch dressing for your fries, but they could potentially have something even better that you never would have tried, had you not just let yourself eat the local food (one of the girls I was with may or may not have thrown a fit about no ranch dressing…).

    -Mackenzie
    http://www.kenzywho.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • vercoutermanon says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience ! Of course, it seems difficult not to go see the Eiffel Tower when in Paris, but it’s true that sometimes we end up enjoying ourselves more when doing more different things ! 😉 By the way, loved the ranch dressing story haha ! Take care

      Like

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