Apr 30

How to get out of the traveler’s bubble

by in Travel as Mastery

photo credit: Rodrigo Basaure via photopin cc

photo credit: Rodrigo Basaure via photopin cc


It’s surprisingly easy to avoid experiencing another culture while traveling. Sure, you take public transportation, stay in local accommodations and eat in local restaurants. But after a short while, it can become routine. And staying in a very-easily-created traveler’s bubble won’t help you develop mastery.

Here are 10 ways to get closer to the local culture while traveling.

  1. Buy toiletries like toothpaste, soap, and shampoo (and for the adventurous…deodorant)
  2. Get a haircut
  3. Eat street food and ask questions while your food is being prepared
  4. Ride a bus, tram or subway to the end station. Wander around. Eat at a restaurant where you can’t read the menu and don’t see any other tourists
  5. Attend a religious service
  6. Spend a couple hours browsing a department store (maybe it’s just me, but I always find the kitchen items and school supplies really interesting)
  7. Attend a meet-up related to an interest you have
  8. Attend a local performance of something you’ve never heard of
  9. Take a taxi and chat with the driver
  10. Buy groceries at a local grocery store and cook dinner for yourself. Even better if you cook a local dish!

What would you add to this list?

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  • http://twitter.com/ChewyTravels Chewy Travels

    To build on your food suggestions, I would also add “Eat where the locals eat, and eat what they eat.” It might not be enough to try the street food (local folks may not even eat it, e.g. hot dogs and pretzels in New York City). One sure sign is that if there is a long line of locals, or if a place is packed full of locals, then you are in for some good local treats!

    • TrekDek

      That’s a great one. In NY I discovered this whole in the wall Latin place that was packed with locals about 10 minutes after I went in. That validated how awesome the food was.

      Great tip!


      • http://twitter.com/ChewyTravels Chewy Travels

        the hole in the wall places are always the best! most of my favorite places are small and hidden.

    • Cate

      Yep, great suggestion! And even if you happen to stop at a place that end up being more touristy than local, asking questions is a great way to gain cultural insights…such as why do the locals not eat hot dogs and pretzels in NYC?

      • http://twitter.com/ChewyTravels Chewy Travels

        Yeah, asking questions! People are friendlier in NYC than they are given credit for! Just go for the nice happy looking people, not the Wall St types that look like they are in a hurry…