From shopping local, to cooking classes, Amy McPherson shares some awesome ideas so that you can experience travel through authentic activities which will open your horizons and will give you so much more than just memories.
Do you ever feel ‘Churched-out’ in Europe and ‘Templed-out’ in Asia? Does it feel like after traveling for a while, everywhere in the world just feels the same and sightseeing gets a little boring?
It is often the case that we get a little bored of looking at another building and visiting another museum; tourist attractions can only keep us interested for a while and you end up spending hours in bars and cafes just sitting around doing what you would otherwise do at home.
It’s worthwhile to plan some activities on the side after you’ve done the obligatory sightseeing to enhance your trip. Here are five top activities that could transform your journey into an experience and even leave you with new skills and knowledge to take home.
Learn a new language
Many places in the world offer short- term language courses to help you grasp the local tongue. It’s amazing how different you’ll feel after knowing a few words to say to shop keepers and the odd pedestrian.
Languages are surprisingly closely associated with the way people think and do things and by learning a new language you are able to get an insight into the culture and lifestyle of the place you are visiting.
Best of all, you’ll be surrounded by this language on a daily basis and you’ll be surprised by how fast you can pick up the lingo and be able to show off when you get home.
There is nothing better than knowing how to whip up that signature dish your local French restaurant serves, and to be able to surprise your family and friends when you produce the most authentic Thai flavors from your own kitchen.
With the popularity of cooking shows around the world, most destinations now offer cooking classes to visitors who would like to try their hand at making some delicious local meals.
READ MORE: Italy’s Amalfi Coast culinary tours
These classes are fun, often include a trip to the local markets and you really get to experience a small portion of what life would be like to live as a local.
Not to mention, you’ll get to meet local women to share some kitchen secrets with.
Learn to dance
Dancing is one of the most liberating activities anyone can do. Learn to Tango in Argentina; to Salsa in Peru; or learn the steps and twirls of traditional Chinese or Thai dancing.
Even better, bring your partner along and you can create a signature dance that you can do at social events. Dancing is not only fun, it’ll also keep you fit and allow you to meet locals while you travel the world.
Shop at traditional markets
Forget the shopping malls that are lined with international brands. Venture out to the suburb areas and shop in a traditional market.
This is where locals gather and purchase anything from fresh produce to school uniforms without the rows and rows of the same souvenirs being sold at every tourist market.
Not to mention, the foods at traditional markets are often cheaper and more authentic, and you know what they say: eat where the locals eat. You can’t go wrong.
Visit and volunteer at a school or orphanage
Depending on your availability, many organizations around the world can arrange for you to visit or volunteer at a local school or orphanage.
Do a bit of research into local charity organizations before you go. Bring school supplies with you and watch the children’s faces light up with delight. This is an extremely personal experience and will have you look at life differently.
READ MORE: 5 Ways to volunteer abroad
Have you taken some cooking classes or dancing classes somewhere in the world? Do you have a story to share with us about experiences as a volunteer? Comment below and tell us about your other ways of seeing a new country and culture!