Group trips tend to focus on larger tourist attractions and things everyone wants to see. Solo travel is a great way to really immerse yourself in different cultures and see everything they have to offer. Here are some things to consider the next time you want to discover more culture on a trip.
Explore New Restaurants
A lot of Americans tend to play it safe when it comes to food. They go to places they recognize, like McDonald’s or other large chain restaurants. You definitely aren’t going to experience the local culture that way.
When you’re looking for a bite to eat, ask someone local for recommendations. Look for places that are filled with people who live in the area instead of obvious tourists. They’re going to know the best food, as well as the best prices. Tourist trap restaurants will often have pricier items because they know that tourists won’t know any better.
Be willing to travel a little to get to good places as well. Don’t focus right in the main, populated area of where you are. Most of the best places you’ll find locally are a little hole in the wall joints in places that you would never have looked if you didn’t know where to find them.
Ditch the Hotel
If you stay at a big chain hotel, you’re going to be surrounded by other tourists. Instead, try something smaller. Look for a local bed and breakfast or stay in an Airbnb. Depending on where you’re going, there are a ton of places to stay that aren’t chain hotels. Most of the time they’re cheaper, too.
Some Airbnbs or smaller places have you staying with the owners. That gives you a chance to talk to them and see the best sites to explore that aren’t in the guidebook. If they’re nice enough, they might even take you on a little tour to their favorite spots or cook you some authentic cultural food!
Take Public Transportation
Buses and trains are great for people watching and sightseeing. Seeing people go about their daily routines lets you get a feel for what life is really like there. Looking out the window lets you see some sights and observe some lesser-traveled routes.
If you’re feeling spontaneous, hop on a bus without a destination in mind. Keep your eyes peeled for a neighborhood that looks interesting and get off to explore. You’ll be able to get a feel for really living there instead of exploring just the tourist sites. Check out parks, museums, little shops and everything else. You could end up finding a new favorite place!
Go to A Cultural Hot Spot
If there’s a specific culture you really want to learn more about, make sure you’re going to a place that’s abundant in their people and culture. There are so many places you can travel to that will introduce you to multiple different cultures and groups of people. A lot of people assume an entire country or state is filled with a certain culture, but it’s only prominent in a few select areas.
For example, if you travel to Miami you can experience a mix of Latin American influences, since it is known for its rich Latin heritage. If you are traveling on the opposite end of the U.S., you can experience some of the cultural influences of the Amish and enjoy some amazing restaurants and shops. The trick is to do the research and know where you can go to experience these multitudes of people.
Get social! It’s great to ask locals simple things like where to eat, but it’s even better to make friends and go with them to those places. If you aren’t comfortable just walking up to someone and striking up a conversation, there are a bunch of apps for travelers looking to talk to locals.
Traveling solo is great and empowering, but it’s always nice to have friends to go see things with. Making the locals those friends means you’ll get to really see how people live there. They can take you to see their friend’s band at a local bar or take you along to the party they’re going to later. It truly gives you a chance to absorb the culture of the place you’re in.
While you might think locals are hostile to tourists, they’re only that way if you don’t respect the culture and place you’re in. If it’s a place where you don’t know the language, learn at least some common phrases before you go. Research customs so you know things that might be considered rude or offensive in that culture. They’ll be happy to see that you’re making an effort.
It’s a big, beautiful world and it’s full of so many different cultures. When you’re traveling, take the time to embrace as much of the culture as you possibly can. It’s something you’ll never forget.
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.
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