A Traveler’s Guide to Experiencing Other Cultures


Many people view travel – especially overseas travel – as something reserved for the wealthy, for elite businesspeople or celebrities, and for times of indulgence. But in reality, travel is a must for everyone, because the rewards you get from travel far outweigh the financial costs.

Travel enriches our souls, broadens our horizons, and introduces us to a world of new friends. When you travel and take the time to appreciate other cultures, no matter how vastly different they may be from our own, you gain an understanding about others that you simply cannot get from a book or by watching a television show. You open your eyes and your heart to new experiences, and in the process you gain a wealth of self-knowledge.

The key to gaining these benefits is to be a “traveler,” not a “tourist.” What’s the difference? A traveler immerses him/herself in the culture, while a tourist simply sees the sites. Travelers make lifelong friends along the way, get off the beaten path, and experience the culture as a local would. Tourists keep to themselves, visit the usual “traps,” and leave the location with lots of trinkets, but few amazing moments.

Equally important, you’ve likely heard that people in some countries don’t like tourists. That’s true. But they do like travelers. They enjoy when foreigners take a genuine interest in their country and culture (as travelers do), and not just view them as pawns there for their amusement (as tourists often do).

The challenge is that many people are afraid to be real travelers. They like staying in familiar chain hotels, eating in the hotel restaurants, going to the tourist spots, and buying lots of souvenirs along the way. Many even tour unfamiliar countries in tourist groups, being herded from one tourist location to the next with little time for truly experiencing the land.

When you put your fears aside you can travel in a whole ehmtic2014.com way, recognize things you normally wouldn’t notice, and gain a lifetime of experiences that will enrich your world outlook forever. The following strategies will help you stop being a tourist and experience new places as a traveler.

· Blend in with fashion.

While how you dress really isn’t important (as long as you’re observing local decency rules), you will find it easier to be a traveler when you dress like the locals. Therefore, bring very few clothes with you. Within the first couple of days of your visit, buy clothes there in the local style. When you do so, the locals will respect you more and will be more likely to engage you, even though they know you are a visitor.

· Express yourself non-verbally.

If you don’t know the local language, don’t worry. Almost everywhere around the world people speak some English. If they don’t, they likely know someone who does who can help translate. Additionally, you can often get along easily with sign language and by expressing yourself with your hands. Bringing a translation dictionary with you can help with specific words. No matter what the local language, always express yourself with a smile. Don’t go in fearing people, always frowning, or afraid to look people in the eye. Adopt the mindset that you’re going out to meet new friends. When people see that you’re friendly they’ll go out of their way to help you.


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