Part of the joy of traveling is experiencing an entirely new culture. To travel is to broaden the horizons, try new things and learn a lot about the planet we live on and it's people. But there are certain things that make up a culture that you have to explore before truly experiencing that country.
A good trip is defined by how well you plan. If you want to have an especially immersive experience then you need to look into all the factors that make up the culture of the area you are visiting. Therefore, here are 10 things to look into when traveling to an entirely new culture.
The history of a culture often lives inside its food. The food of that region or country will be defined by its history. As it's settlers have moved they bring with them recipes that continue to adapt as their lives change. You can, therefore, tell a lot by what people eat.
Before you travel anywhere, always look into what food is on offer. We don't just mean what are the best restaurants in the region. We're talking about what kinds of places people eat at, how do they eat their food and what's the most traditional dish on offer. Going to Barcelona for instance, without trying tapas from a tiny restaurant is almost criminal!
Much like the food, the museums of an area also say a lot about its history. There's more to a museum than just the information it holds though. While looking into museums it's useful to understand the area you're visiting.
For instance, any location that has spent time and money on creating a hat museum shows that there is a quirky quality to their people and that their headwear is just as important as their history. Museums are also useful in understanding a country's larger place in world history and politics.
The drinks of any location can be just as important as the food you eat alongside them. The culture can define the type of drink that people rely upon. For instance, countries with a sweet tooth might rely on something closer to a milkshake, much like a lassi in Indian culture.
The same is true of alcohol. Based on the types of agriculture in each country, the alcohol can be widely varied. While eastern Europe can offer a lot of strong spirits and vodkas, Britain is best known for its beers, ciders, and ales. What you drink can be key to the experience.
The religion of a culture might be something worth looking into before you travel anywhere. Not only is it useful to understand the basis of many pieces of cultural significance within the country, but it also may be key to how you behave.
A religion may mean that you have to wear certain things when traveling to the country, or that the laws are much stricter. The religion of an area can also affect the food on offer and will, of course, have an influence over the buildings you can visit and the architecture in general.
Westerners can often gain quite the culture shock when learning about the traditions of another country, so it's worth exploring what may be in store before you jump on the plane. There's a tradition in absolutely every component of a country so it's crucial to learn more.
Tradition can often explain a lot of the etiquette and behavior of a country's inhabitants. The politeness of the Japanese, for instance, is something we may not be used to. Tradition can also explain everything from the clothes that people wear to the jobs that they work.
Music is much more than just the instruments that a people have managed to create. The music of a region can also convey the story of that area. It's rich in tradition and the lyrics of some of the classic songs will say a lot about the people themselves.
Not only this, but the types of sounds that are put together are very representative of the history of the area. We can see it in modern-day hip hop now, with influences from the Caribbean for instance. The same can be said for the music of any other culture. Where they've come from and where they are today is all explained through sound.
Good music isn't complete without some kind of traditional dance. If you want to get down with the locals then understanding the famous dances of the region could help you look like you've lived there all your life.
The dances of Latin America are very different from that of Greek heritage. The dances themselves can also be linked to other cultural aspects of life. There may be a dance exclusively used for weddings, or perhaps one that's brought out during a yearly parade.
3 LOCAL HOTSPOTS
If you really want to claim that you're one of the locals, then look up where the hotspots are for people living in the area. It may be the restaurant that everyone in the area goes to or a particular bar with brilliant live music.
The experience could be even broader ranging than this though. The locals will know the best of the best in their area, so always follow what they do and you'll likely find a hidden gem that other tourists don't know about. Beaches are another good example of this, with the locals knowing which beach is the perfect mix of beautiful coast and amazing sand.
It's easy to find the most famous building or perhaps the most photographed church of an area, but there's more to understanding the architecture than what makes a good picture. To really experience a country you have to get a better sense of the buildings themselves.
Houses often represent a key part of the way people live their lives. They are designed for that region and that region alone. Architecture can say a lot about the religion of the area. It also has something to say about history and outside influences. Or perhaps it even demonstrates the art of a region, with key architects stamping their claim on a city.
Throughout this list, a very important word has been mentioned. History. If you're going to experience a completely different culture then you have to look into its history. The information online and from famous historians can give a glimpse into what the people of a country have endured.
The history of a nation can still have an impact on its culture today. It may be the castles that can be found all across Europe, or perhaps the backlash of the drug trade in Columbia. You can travel to China and see the great wall, or head on over to Berlin to see the most famous wall of the cold war. History tells the stories that have created the countries we visit today.