5 Tips For Immersing Yourself in the Local Culture

Guest Post By: Dr. Jessie Voigts

Who doesn't love to travel? And one of the best things about travel is learning how people live in various parts of the world. From music to food to activities, differences abound! If you're like me, you want to experience a destination like a local – so you can truly get a glimpse into the culture you're visiting. But HOW? Here are my top 5 tips for immersing yourself in the local culture and experiencing a destination like a local, on your tripping travels:

  1. Live with locals. Try homestays, or renting a house or apartment. You'll be off the hotel/tourist route, and have direct connections with locals. They can tell you what to do, see, play, and eat!
  2. Eat like locals. Shop the market, support local farmers, and definitely ask for recipes! Peruse the aisles at the grocery store – and watch what locals put in their carts. Ask people what their favorite things are, and then try them. In this way, we discovered pickled onion Meanies in Ireland (which our family just loves, and I never would have bought otherwise).
  3. Live like locals. Get the local newspaper or look online and find activities that the locals are participating in and attending. Free concerts at a church, poetry readings at the library, festivals, Shakespeare in the park, classes of all sorts (art! Cooking!), local sporting events, animal activities, fishing, golf, and more. By infiltrating the town schedule, you'll find things that tourists never get to see. Shop in local stores – and get some clothes or accessories from that location! You will love the scarf you found in a back street shop in Paris, or the bracelet from a women's co-op in Kenya. Extra bonus – it's a much better souvenir! Swim at the locals' beach, instead of the bigger and more crowded one down the coast.
  4. Play with locals. Head to the park or a museum and meet someone from Tripping for a family playdate! Explore your interests beforehand with Trippers – maybe meet up with someone for a musical jam, or to play a few rounds of golf, or to scuba dive together. You'll not only experience playing in a location, but get to meet locals and expand your worldview.
  5. Meet with locals. This is one of the best parts of tripping – you get to meet with locals, and see how they live in their own environment! One of our favorite afternoons in Scotland was spent with an artist and the singing postie. Spend time talking with locals – at the coffeeshop, or a concert, bookstore, or even standing in line somewhere. You'll never know the friendships you can make! And isn't this what travel is all about? Learning a culture deeply, and taking part in new customs and cuisines. On your next trip, try to get off the tourist track and live like a local!

Dr. Jessie Voigts is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about exploring the world. She also founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. You can usually find her family by water anywhere in the world. Please join the Wandering Educators network on Tripping!