In a world of 7,151 different languages across 195 countries, an adventure with new experiences and opportunities awaits you.
Each country, town, and village hold a unique set of customs, values, and traditions. As a wanderlust myself, I seek authentic cultural experiences to learn more about the local community.
Let’s discuss how to fully engage with other cultures to produce unforgettable, life-changing travel adventures.
How to Culturally Immerse Yourself
On a recent journey through Southern Africa, my partner and I had the incredible opportunity to immerse ourselves in a beautiful village.
Happy Soul Adventures (HSA) is a female-owned travel curation company in Botswana providing immersive experiences.
Founder and company director, Cynthia Mothelesi, provided insight into cultural immersive travel and how it’s implemented in her company. I asked her a few questions below:
In your opinion, why is it important for travelers to immerse themselves in other cultures?
The best way to connect with a new place is through the locals. You get to connect with how they live, what they eat, their music, and dance styles. Eventually, you realize that we are all one as human beings.
We all need food, love, nurturing, and happiness. The beauty of life is when you take pleasure in the smallest things and that’s what cultural immersion does to your soul.
Tell me about Happy Soul Adventures and what you’d like travelers to get out of the experiences.
Happy Soul Adventures is a travel curation company based in Botswana. We connect you with the Botswana local culture, as well as our neighboring countries.
We understand that travel to Africa is expensive. When you book an experience with us, expect a bit of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, and Swaziland to mention but a few.
We want you to meet the people of Africa – live with us and truly immerse yourself in our unique and beautifully simple way of life.
Describe the cultural experience in Botswana.
Expect to cycle in a village, learn an old local craft with a local host (pottery or basketry), learn how to cook local food, and even book a village homestay.
The people of Botswana are very friendly and welcoming. Botswana is very peaceful and quiet so expect to live life at a very slow pace.
4 Tips on Culturally Immersive Travel
Before your flight takes off, consider these tips and recommendations on how to culturally immerse yourself when traveling to another country.
1. Do Your Research
It’s important to learn about the area before heading to your destination. Research the culture including food delicacies, language, customs, and traditions.
Be sure to identify how people greet each other, the primary language spoken, and other culture-specific customs. For example, wearing shoes indoors and maintaining eye contact are considered disrespectful in some countries.
It’s also best to learn a few key phrases such as “hello” and “thank you” in the country’s primary language. Many people will appreciate the effort!
2. Seek Cultural Experiences Through Locals
There are a variety of ways to fully engage in the culture. Ask local people in restaurants or stores what they recommend. Research tourism and other companies that are locally owned.
Locals can provide tours of the town focusing on architecture and history. Hiking is another excellent way to appreciate the landscape and environment.
3. Respect Others
Ensure that you respect cultural expectations. This vastly changes within not only each country but each territory. You may not even realize that you’re disrespecting another person if you aren’t vigilant in learning that country’s culture.
In 2016, I visited northwestern India. My family and I were invited to a large home-cooked meal, which was delicious! As a left-handed person, I grabbed the serving spoon with my left hand. I was quickly informed by my brother that it’s extremely disrespectful to do so in Indian culture.
Whereas this was my automatic reflex, it may seem inconsiderate to those in India. Always try to remain respectful of others when visiting another country.
4. Remain Open-Minded and Teachable
When you’re learning a completely new culture, you may feel like a fish out of water initially. Every country has its cuisine and completely different delicacies such as ostrich or shark. In Botswana, we tried dried-out, fried, and salted caterpillars!
There’s a whole world full of new experiences waiting for you. Create purposeful, authentic trips with your family and friends in countries across the world by implementing these tips for immersive cultural travel.
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