Don't Be That Person
"One travels to run away from routine. That dreadful routine that kills all imagination and all our capacity for enthusiasm." -Ella Maillart
The most annoying thing to me as an American, is when I go to other countries and see other Americans trying to force American ways on someone else in THEIR country. With any travel experience there will always be ups and downs, but the best part of travel is embracing a new culture and lifestyle. If you want an experience similar to that of your native country, stay in your native country and save other people from your unrealistic expectations. Here are 3 tips to keep in mind when traveling internationally.
Just Try It
Food is a major part of anyone's culture. If you go to Ecuador they have cuy (also known as guinea pig), in France they have escargot, in Nigeria they have jollof rice, and in Thailand they have goong ten (also known as live shrimp). Although these dishes may be foreign to you, they are the day to day to the natives of these counties. I'm not going to say: I am willing to try EVERYTHING that's out there, however I always keep an open mind. Just try it, you may like it. When I went out to lunch in Paris, I was sitting next to a couple who just ordered their appetizer of escargot. My immediate thought was: "there's no way I'm eating snails, I'll pass on that experience." So I continued to drink my wine and eat my caprese salad. However, when I went out that night and met up with a friend for dinner who was living in Paris, I had a change of heart. So I order the escargot. When the dish came I was still hesitant, but I went for it. It honestly wasn't bad at all; it truly is just chewy garlic lol. Although, I won't be ordering escargot on the regular, I was happy that I opened my mind and tried something native to France. I was then able to come back to The States and tell others about my experience and encourage others to do the same. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
A Smile is a Universal Language
I have lost count on how many times I have seen someone go to another country, not speak the native language, then get upset when they try to communicate with the locals and they don't understand them. [Fun Fact Alert] Speaking at a louder volume does not help them understand you any better. I don't understand French at a whisper or a scream, so remember the elevation in volume does nothing, but make you look like an ignorant elitist. Push come to shove just smile and nod, everyone understands a smile. I cannot count how many times I've done that, but I beg of you not to increase your volume. I'm also not saying you need to be fluent to go to another country. But I am saying that you cannot be upset at other people for not speaking your language. Learn the basics: hi, bye, bathroom, please and thank you, how are you, etc. Remember that you are a representation of your country, so don't go somewhere and act in a manner that would leave your country in a negative light. If it would annoy you while you're home, trust me it annoys them when you're there.
Embrace the Culture
Everything doesn't have to be a 5 star resort. I, as much as the next person LOVE an all-inclusive resort. Unlimited margaritas alone has me sold lol. And trust me I ALWAYS get my moneys worth. However, if you truly want to learn about a country it's not at a resort full of other people who look like you or are where you're from. I am a huge advocate for AirBnBs and local hotels. When you live like a local, even if it's for a few days you learn so much more simply because you have to, as opposed to the concierge doing everything for you, and all you have to do is get into the car they called for you and arrive at your destination. Also, when you live locally you come across so many gems that you would never find on a resort. When I was in Curaçao, I went into town and bought local fruit-- which was delicious by the way. Definitely top 5 freshest fruit I've had in the world. I also had a completely natural smoothie made for me. I'd choose that over the happy hour at a resort any day. Also, you're putting your money back into the country you're visiting as opposed to other establishments that don't give a penny back to the country they're inhabiting. [Look forward to that topic in a future blog].
Tell me about an experience you've had in a different country in the comments below, I'd love to know what you've witnessed!
Peace & Blessings,