Whether it is the desire to see as much of a country as possible in only a short period of time, or the habit of planing your free time as efficient as possible: there are many reasons why we sometimes fail to consciously experience our travel destination. Do you want to immerse into the local culture and learn more about the country and its people on your next trip? This blog article advice on slow and conscious traveling!
Have you ever returned back home from a trip and thought about all the fantastic things you have experienced while abroad? You will surely look at the photos taken during your trip. Suddenly you ask yourself: The woman in the colorful dress, who collected seagrass at low tide on the beach, what will she use it for? The children who always greeted you in the street from afar – what does their school look like? The man next to you on the bus who helped you to get off at the right stop. Where was he traveling to?
What does it mean to travel „slowly“ and „consciously“? The answer is simple: you choose your own pace!
As travelers we all have our own ideas about how much time we want to spend in one country and how we want to spend it. However, for many travelers, it is their contacts with local people and their culture that make the journey a special experience.
If you feel that you lack the connection to local people and their culture during your travels, this is a good opportunity to make your journey slower and more conscious!
Every week, we will provide advice about slow and conscious traveling here:
# 1: Take your time!
Instead of traveling to another location every day and spending every night in another hostel, spend at least three days in one place! In this way you automatically decelerate your journey. You do not have to set yourself the goal of traveling the whole country in three weeks. Your travel experience can be just as intense and exciting when you spend three weeks in just one place. It also gives you the opportunity to meet people on-site – be it a friendly conversation with the man who runs the fruit stall on the street corner you pass every day or an invitation to a local family‘s home.
Traveling slowly and consciously will give you more time to perceive your surroundings and to get to know them better. Allow yourself to absorb and process all the new impressions in your destination. In this way, you are not only much more likely to have the opportunity to mingle with local people, but also to learn from these experiences!
#2 Stay with a local host family!
Staying with a host family is probably the easiest way to get in touch with locals in your travel destination! Not only will you see and experience how people live but there are also the little things you will notice: How often do the neighbors come to visit? Do they bring something to eat or will family and friends often cook together? How do the family members greet each other? What do the family members do for a living ? Where do they buy their groceries? What does the family do together in the evenings?
However, it is not just everyday family life that you will learn about – moreover, host families are inexhaustible sources of local knowledge when it comes to cultural norms, habits, or values.
You can book accommodation with host families on various online platforms. In addition, there are travel agents who can organize this for you. An alternative option are online networks, where people offer free accommodation for travelers in their home.
#3 Volunteer, intern or work abroad!
Whether a Working Holiday abroad, an internship or volunteer placement in another country: Working and volunteering abroad gives you numerous insights in how the locals pursue their jobs, how they interact with each other, how they combine their personal and professional life, what matters to them and many more.
Work & Travel, internships or volunteering abroad give you the opportunity to really get to know a country from an inside perspective. You work with local colleagues and get to know new ways of communicating and working.
In many countries around the world there are opportunities to volunteer, do internships or even work for a while.
World Unite! can assist you in finding suitable options. Visit us for inspiration on your conscious stay abroad!
#4 Meet up with locals!
With the help of several applications, you have the possibility to meet locals for a drink or walk. There are various Apps which allow connecting travelers to locals. Many locals are interested in showing you around, inviting you to a family dinner or practicing their language skills.
#5 Take Public Transport!
Instead of using private transfers to travel from one place to another in your travel destination, you can also travel by local buses, trains and other public transport. Not only do you save money, but in many cases you can easily get in touch with locals: Other travelers may be curious to know where you are from and whether you like your host country! In addition, you can observe how passengers interact with each other, where they get in and out, what snacks they have on their journey and how speed, time and personal space are interpreted on a journey.
#6 Eat and buy locally!
When you go shopping in local markets, there’s a lot for you to observe and to learn: Which products are offered seasonally? Which market stalls are preferred by the locals? Do people have long conversations with the sellers? Do they bargain? How are foods presented?
If you visit a local restaurant, you can take the opportunity to talk to the staff about local dishes and the local food culture. Ask them what their favorite dishes are and why! You can also check about the possibility of joining a local cooking class.
#7 Read about the local history, culture and religion!
Having at least a rough idea of the history, culture and religion of your host country will allow you to have a better understand of some the country’s values and customs. With a bit of background knowledge, you can quickly find a suitable topic to talk about with locals and can more easily have conversations that go beyond the usual small talk.
#8 Learn a few words in the local language!
It really does make a big difference to know a few words in the local language. Even though it might only be “hello”, “please” and “thank you”, what you show most of all is interest in the culture! Many times when people answer back and look into puzzled faces it is a great start for more conversations. 😊
How do you slow down your travel pace to travel more consciously?
Let us know your ideas about how to immerse into the local culture and learn more about the country and its people on your next trip!
We would love to hear your advice and suggestions! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us on our Webpage.