The unknown is part of the allure of traveling to a new destination. It's exciting to look around and be unfamiliar with the culture, the language and the way of life. However, being completely ignorant of the culture of your destination can be quite a hindrance. With a little preparation, you can make your travels smoother, more enjoyable and richer by understanding a bit about the culture before you even arrive. If you are getting ready to explore a new destination, here are a few ways in which you can culturally prepare yourself.
Arm Yourself With Language
While it's often impractical to fully learn a language before traveling somewhere new, there are plenty of ways in which you can prepare yourself for language barriers. Spend a little time learning the basics like Hello, Please, Thank You and a few words to describe food, directions and numbers. With some basics under your belt, go even further and download language translation apps or get yourself a dictionary that has both English and the language of the locals. Just an attempt to speak the local language will get you far and having some back up resources will help boost your confidence.
Learn About The Local Religion
Religion plays a huge role in countries all over the world and it's important to read up on the kind of practices and beliefs held in the places that you visit. Learning about the prominent religion can help you to show locals respect, wear the appropriate clothes and understand daily rituals and the way of life. A little religious background knowledge can also help you gain a deeper understanding of the history and politics of each new place that you go.
Research The Food
If you're an adventurous eater, you may just want to eat what you see when you see it. However, by doing a bit of research, you can come up with a list of the top local dishes to try so that you don't miss out on anything. Find out what the traditional foods and drink are and what is in them so that you can feel confident trying something new that may seem a bit strange at first.
Find Out About Social Norms
This may be surprising but different countries have drastically different social norms. While pushing in line is not acceptable in the U.S, it happens all of the time in places like China. Take a look at the way citizens usually behave and interact with each other so that you can be careful not to offend others and to let things go when you experience something that is typically offensive in your home country.
Keep an Open Mind
This one doesn't take any research or studying but is just as important as all of the others. Keep your mind open and be willing to embrace and accept any differences in culture that you come across. Remember that whichever destination you choose, it's bound to be different and that is part of the reason why you visited in the first place.