Learning happens everywhere—no matter where you are, you’re learning about people and environments simply by being there. And going on tour is a whole other way to learn more about a culture. From guided sightseeing and Tour Directors to hands-on cooking classes and farm visits, here are our favorite ways to dig a little deeper into the world around us.
Take a cooking class
Getting your hands dirty in a cooking class is one of the best (and tastiest) ways to learn more about local cuisine. You’ll get to know the seasonal ingredients, what goes into creating a meal from scratch and the important role food plays in many cultures. Aside from that, nothing’s more rewarding than taking a bite of a fresh, homemade meal you crafted yourself.
Explore a cultural district
Many big cities have neighborhoods or areas distinguished as a cultural center, like Chinatown in San Francisco or Little Italy in Boston. Meandering through these neighborhoods is an experience for all the senses, from the enticing smells of the local restaurants to the colorful buildings unique to that area.
Ask the locals for their recommendations
We’ve yet to meet a local who wasn’t eager to help give us directions or recommend a favorite wine bar. It’s one of the easiest ways to get off the beaten path and see where the locals hang out during their time off. Just ask around—you’ll never know what you’ll uncover or who you’ll meet along the way.
Visit a local farmer’s market
Picking up fresh bread, cheese and veggies from a farmer’s market can be an extremely rewarding way to spend a morning or afternoon. You’ll see how the locals shop for their groceries and get a feel for daily life in that area. It’s a great setting for people watching or picking up souvenirs—or a snack—that’s truly authentic.
Listen to your Tour Director
Tour Directors are an amazing hub of knowledge, so use them to your advantage! Need to know how to use the public transportation? Have a question about local architecture? Want to know the best place to go for a slice of pizza? They’ll share buckets of information while you’re on the bus or as you walk through a new town, and are always happy to share tidbits of knowledge with you.
Go back to your favorite sites
Guided sightseeings give you an introduction to a new city so you can figure out what you want to see on a deeper level in your free time. Whether it’s spending more time in Siena’s cathedral, exploring the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam or stopping by the Trevi Fountain to take in the culture, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about what interests you.
Read a new book before you go
Diving into a book on the plane or before you arrive at your destination is our favorite way to get inspired before a trip. Pick up your favorite travel guide, ask us for our recommendations on Facebook or bring the latest travel novel to open your eyes to some of what you’ll see on tour.
What’s your favorite way to learn more about a new culture? Share your thoughts in the comments, then see how we’re celebrating learning.