Whether we realize it or not, local culture isn’t just an important part of every trip we take, in many ways it can define it. This may mean traveling to India to learn yoga from the pros, or going on a business trip to San Francisco. No matter your style or manner of travel, learning more about the local culture is important. Since it’s such a key aspect of the travel experience, we made it our June Twitter chat topic.
What is a Twitter chat? For those not familiar, TripIt holds a monthly chat on Twitter on the third Thursday of each month from 2-3 pm Pacific Time under the hashtag #TripItChat. Every month there’s a new travel topic where we encourage participants to share advice with one another. To learn more, please see: http://landlopers.com/2013/05/01/tripitchat/
Here are some of the key takeaways from our last #TripItChat on Cultural Travel.
What is cultural travel?
It’s a complex and somewhat vague term so we decided to ask our participants how they define cultural travel, and the responses framed the hour-long discussion perfectly.
- Chat co-host @SandiMcKenna believes that cultural travel is experiencing a destination to its fullest and learning from the locals.
- For @GWMtravels the definition is a little different and involves learning the history of a new place, both culturally and architecturally.
- Finding deeper meaning, @DanielleSleeper believes that cultural travel is exploring what it means to be human in other places of the world.
- We especially loved @travelaboutmag’s definition who said cultural travel is experiencing a destination rather than just seeing it: eat, explore, enjoy.
Mistakes will be made
No matter how much we prepare for a trip, we’re bound to make mistakes; especially, in new and unfamiliar cultures. For a bit of a laugh, and to learn, we asked chat participants to share their own cultural faux pas from their past travels.
- Chat co-host @OrlandoChris shared a faux pas many of us are guilty of—not learning enough of the language before leaving home!
- Longtime friend of TripIt, @JohnnyJet, said that he’s made many mistakes, but one rises above all the rest which he shares in a blog post on his site.
- @iamfrafuga made the excellent point that if we do make faux pas, we probably don’t even realize them!
Experiencing the culture
Plays, concerts and other performances are a big part of cultural travel, but we also wanted to know what other cultural experiences #TripItChat participants have enjoyed.
- For chat co-host @RickGriffin sometimes how he travels helps him get closer to local culture, like a Viking River Cruise that allowed him the opportunity to see a Mozart/Strauss concert in Vienna.
- Other people seek out sporting events, like @LeeAbbamonte, who thinks they reveal a lot about a new culture and country.
- @SSmithWriter shared a type of experience we hadn’t thought of—visiting and experiencing important religious events, like the traditional dance night in Udaipur, India they attended.
Eat all the food
Food is arguably the most important part of the travel experience and the foods we discover are the fastest way to learn more about a new culture. We asked everyone to share their favorite meal while traveling and the responses had us salivating!
- While many chatters had a hard time deciding, chat co-host @Bloggeries knew immediately his favorite meal experience—a tuna steak on Sao Miguel of the Azores.
- One of the most unusual answers came from @ContikiSheenie who said armadillo in Belize was certainly memorable!
- Cultural culinary experiences don’t have to be just food related as @mbcohn reminded us by suggesting regional drinks are just as important—and they are!
- Other notable foodie regions and countries included: France, Italy, Germany, Croatia and all of Southeast Asia.
While we all try to adapt to new cultures when we travel, that doesn’t mean that some customs don’t surprise us. So we asked everyone to some share cultural norms they found strange at first.
- In many countries, hugging or handholding is very normal no matter the relationship between the people involved. For Americans, this can take some getting used to, as @Bloggeries experienced in Tanzania.
- For @goodglobalcitiz the experience was food related when, as a guest, she was offered the eyeball of a goat at a large meal in Jordan.
- In Barbados it’s not uncommon for women to be the breadwinners and for the men to stay home, a fact that at first surprised @MiddleSeatView.
- Ridding at breakneck speeds as a passenger on a moped in Thailand was a surprising cultural experience that @TRGTALP won’t soon forget!
What are some of YOUR favorite cultural travel experiences?
Don’t forget to join us for the next #TripItChat on July 16th at 2:00PM Pacific/5:00PM Eastern when we will be talking about Travel Hacks.