PHOTO: Plan time to explore a destination on your own for a more culturally rich experience. (Photo courtesy Thinkstock)
Many people are looking to take a more fulfilling getaway when they travel, be it during a city getaway or a full-fledged expedition. However, if you are trying to avoid a “canned and touristy” experience on your next vacation, careful planning is necessary, says The New York Times.
“Getting exposed to local culture is enriching and shows us a world beyond ourselves,” said Ashish Sanghrajka, the president of Big Five Tours & Expeditions, a Stuart, Fla.-based travel company specializing in custom cultural immersion trips tells The New York Times.
Here are some of the ways in which cultural enrichment can be achieved with careful planning.
Avoid a trip with a fixed agenda.
“Group itineraries have a fixed agenda, so there’s little room to go off script, and the more scripted a trip, the less authentic it is,” Sanghrajka tells The New York Times.
Sanghrajka recommends using a travel adviser who specializes in off-the-beaten-path cultural trips. Keeping planned excursions to a minimum opens up your itinerary to the spontaneous.
“Without set tours, you have more opportunities to discover the local culture in an organic way. Instead of booking a culinary tour of Barcelona, for example, book a guide through a local tour company who is well versed in food, and ask this guide to take you to favorite restaurants and food markets,” writes Shivani Vora for The New York Times.
Another way to get immersed in the culture is to book smaller, locally owned hotels.
“Chains and large, splashy properties won’t give you a glimpse into the local culture, but staying at a small hotel owned by locals and situated in a former home, historic building or residential part of town will,” say Vora.
For more tips for planning a more culturally enriched vacation, read on here.