5 Simple Ways to Experience Culture While Traveling

Every traveler wants to make their traveling experience utterly unique, full of wonderful memories, and bring back stories to tell people for years to come! But how do you have a truly genuine traveling experience? The simplest advice I can give is to simply step away from the guidebooks and leave your comfort zone. Focus on immersing yourself in the culture of your chosen destination, rather than simply observing it from the side-lines.

Unsure of where to begin? Read on to discover a collection of ways to indulge in local customs and culture whilst you’re on the road. And don’t forget to have fun!

While in Vienna it would be a crime to miss a trip to the Vienna Opera House.

While in Vienna it would be a crime to miss a trip to the Vienna Opera House.

Do Something — Cultural!

If your chosen destination is renowned for its arts and culture, then make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to see it first-hand. From the ballet, to a theatre show, or even the opera you can fully immerse yourself within deep rooted traditions and the culture that makes your chosen destination famous the world over. For example if you’re in Vienna don’t miss classical music, this is where it was born! You can check out Vienna Opera Tickets here. Just like if you find yourself in Paris, you wouldn’t want to miss a chance to go to the Louvre — it has one of the best museum collections in the world. Remember to book your tickets in advance to get the best deals and seats available.

Read on: Heading to Austria? I’ve got full travel guides for Vienna, Innsbruck, and Salzburg.

Eating local food is one of the best ways to experience culture without even trying.

Eating local food is one of the best ways to experience culture without even trying.

Chow Down With No Regrets

Step off the plane at your destination, head to your accommodations and chances are your senses will already be picking up on the sights and smells of the local cuisine. When you eat food from another country, you’re not just satisfying your hunger you’re experiencing centuries of customs. Eating local food is one of the best ways to experience a culture. A typical meal can consist of well-balanced flavors, tried and tested ingredients, and even generation old recipes. I suggest learning a few simple phrases such as “please” and “thank you” to make your experience even more authentic and be sure to try everything you can!

Catch A Cultural Tour

Most big cities have free walking tours which is a great way to travel and save money. Keep an eye out for these locals who provide tours around the city or local area and join the crowd. You’ll be amazed at how much your learn from simply walking around with locals and like minded travelers such as yourself. Be prepared to learn about the history, the landmarks, and even the best places to eat!

Using public transport can make your trip much more enjoyable than sitting in the back of a cab.

Using public transport can make your trip much more enjoyable than sitting in the back of a cab.

Take to the Streets & Use Public Transport

It might seem easier and quicker to zip around a new city via taxi — especially if you have lots of activities planned. But in truth, there’s no better way to experience a new destination than using public transport. It might be a little scary at first, but trust in yourself and in no time at all you’ll get the hang of it. My best advice is when you head inside a station, or you’re at a tram/bus stop, is to copy what the locals do. If you’re worried or unsure it always helps to do a little research before you leave.

Don’t forget to explore on foot as well. I can’t emphasize enough how much more you see on foot versus from the back of a cab. Hidden markets, a café you can’t help but stop at, the possibilities are endless. All these landmarks will help you create a mental map in your mind as you take in all the sounds, sights and smells of your destination.

Most Importantly, Take Your Time

When you’re travelling, everything can seem like a race against time. You want to cram in as much as possible into your limited time. However, if you allow yourself more time, or simply make some cuts to you activities list, you’ll find your trip much more enjoyable. You’ll have much less anxiety that you may miss something when you accept that you can’t see everything that makes your destination so cool in one trip. All yourself more time to explore and soak up the local customs and culture. I promise you won’t regret it.

Final Thoughts

Planning a trip can be overwhelming. But rest assured that where ever you choose to go for your next vacation you will have a beautiful time. My last general tip — for any trip — is even though researching ahead of time is great, I recommend bringing a travel guidebook along with you. Here are some wonderful books I recommend...

Also, a super common question I get is: What camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D5600 and I use the kit lens and a Sigma wide-angle lens which I am genuinely obsessed with.

My full list of travel gear, that I take on every trip can be found here.

And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (tessajuliette at gmail dot com). 

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