Easy, Authentic Ways to Experience Culture While Traveling

Mar 29, 2024

Often times, my favourite, most memorable moments abroad are unplanned. I love shifting the mindset of checking off sites and turning the mundane into authentic cultural experiences. The greatest connection and learning can take place in these moments.

How does one experience culture in low-key ways? Try these ideas:

Mail Postcards

Buying postcards is not a new idea but I do think it’s forgotten with our ability to share photos and experiences instantaneously online. I love to try to find unique postcards from local artists. Write a note to a friend or family – they’ll be thrilled to receive something from overseas. Buying stamps is an excellent education on local systems (bonus points if you go to the actual post office instead of buying from the gift shop.) Notice, how much do they cost? What do they look like? What colour is the postbox? These are great questions to ask your kids if you’re traveling with family. After the fact, it’s fun to find out how long it took to arrive. Our postcards from Jordan took over 6 months to land in Canada whereas the Maldivian Post was quite quick, considering we mailed them from our secluded resort.

Grocery Shop

Anyone who stays in a vacation home rental or Airbnb will be familiar with wandering the aisles of a local grocery store but I recommend making this an actual excursion. The more ‘local’ the store , the better. Pick out a bag of chips (crisps for the UK folk) – you’ll be amazed at the flavours available. Go on a scavenger hunt for eggs and milk. It seems easy but you’d be surprised at how much this varies from country to country. (Kids love a scavenger hunt!) Pick up local produce and try something new.

Find a Park/Playground

If you’re a parent, mapping out the best playgrounds in a city should be a priority. These often aren’t in the city centre or beside a national monument so you may have to venture off the beaten path (even better.) One of my favourite memories is when my toddler son made friends with a boy in a neighbourhood playground in Budapest. There was no common language but it was incredibly sweet. As a parent, it’s fascinating to watch parenting around the world.

Parks are full of people watching. Stop by the grocery store and bring snacks (and wine, if allowed.) While away a couple of hours taking in the sights and sounds of daily life.

Try Public Transit

There are times where we just want to get where we need to go (hello, airport arrivals with baggage and exhaustion) and booking a private car is greatly appreciated. In a low stakes moment, hop on the metro or hail the tuktuk. The locals know the best ways to traverse the area and they’re likely taking public transit. Buying the tickets, negotiating fares, noting the driving style, these are all great ways to learn about culture.

Connect with Locals

This probably seems obvious but I’m talking making a concerted effort to connect with people. This can be as simple as striking up a conversation with someone at the park (maybe another parent at the playground.) Perhaps it’s sharing a meal with your driver at one of his/her favourite stops. It might even be asking a question to a helpful stranger in the grocery store. Spontaneous chitchat not your thing? Take a walk with a local.

Need help? Woven Travel offers consults on finding authentic travel experiences. I can curate a list specifically suited to you and your interests via my Business Class offering. Book here.

Want to chat, get tips and ideas but research for yourself. The Economy Class option would be best for you. Book in your 1 hour consult here.



  1. Jeanie Ross says:

    I always make a point of trying new chip (crisp) flavours while travelling. The most interesting that I’ve found so far: blueberry Pringles in Malaysia and Hot Dog flavour in Croatia.

you said:

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