The concept of experiential travelling can be a mouthful and, unless you really stop and think about its inherent meaning, it might seem convoluted. But, really, it stems from one key fundamental need:
THE NEED TO BE CURIOUS.
If you want to experience while you travel, you take everything with a mind of true curiosity.
Why is this the national dish? Why does no one smile in pictures? Why are houses kept within the walls of a compound? Why is English the trade language? How many languages are there anyways? What is that woman saying?
I don’t see a lot of youth on the streets…
where are they? What do people my age read? Why are they eating these sausages…
If you want to experience a culture, you have to first be curious about the culture, genuinely wanting to know WHY and HOW and WHAT and WHERE.In many ways you’re acting like a journalist, with your readership being yourself.
This curiosity starts long before the journey begins. But how? Here are my…
TOP 5 TIPS FOR IGNITING YOUR CURIOSITY PRE-TRAVEL:
1. Start following a local newspaper. With your friend ‘google’, you can easily locate a newspaper and see what are the main headlines, ideas, and values currently informing the society. From there you can…
2. Use social media, like Twitter or Instagram, to start following an artist/politician/beautician (whatever you’re interested in!) from that country. For example, Turkey is a huge dream trip for me, so I follow Elif Shafak (@Elif_Safak) to learn more about what is happening in the country.
3. Read a novel about or written by the country. Right now I am reading “Villa Serena” by Domenica de Rosa and getting so excited about ideas and questions and things to discover when my husband and I go to Tuscany in June. Check out the very clever blog www.ayearofreadingtheworld.com for suggestions.
4. If you’re blessed to live in a city with food options, go to a restaurant from the country where you are traveling. And I don’t mean some chain restaurant…I mean the real deal! Talk to the a waiter. Find out who is from the country in that restaurant and who you can talk to for tips and advice. Often they will recommend dishes that you HAVE to try when you arrive in their country. My sister and I are going to Spain so my recent brunch at a tapas bar was the perfect venue for sparking my excitement.
5. Learn the language. Just a greeting or five. Learn the basics. Language is not only very useful, it also shows people in the culture, when you are arrive, that you cared enough to try. Some of the best experiences I’ve had while traveling started simply because I could say “no taxi, thank you” in Swahili or “one hot chocolate, please” in German.
In addition, language IS part of culture. And because of that, it gives you lots of cultural cues for understanding a place. Example: there is no Swahili word to describe “minutes” or “seconds”…showing a sharp contrast to English-speaking cultures where time is a much more important concept culturally. In Inuktitut, there are at least fifty different words for ‘snow’, showing so much about the geographical history of the linguo-cultural society.
Where are you going to travel next? What’s on your bucketlist? What are you going to do to ignite your own curiosity?