A family looking out in amazement over a foreign city A family looking out in amazement over a foreign city

How to Immerse Yourself in Your Destination's Culture

Dr. Jen Hartstein

Travel tips from Dr. Jen Hartstein

Family travel is a great opportunity to spend time learning together about a new culture far different than your own. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be rewarding, educational and fun! Learning the basics of a new language, experimenting with local cuisine, learning about family cultures and traditions or visiting historical and natural sights can add excitement to a family vacation and increase everyone's familiarity with a new location.

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Here is how you can up your cultural immersion on your next family getaway!


Create a Traveling Scavenger Hunt
Ahead of your trip, prepare a scavenger hunt for the whole family. It could include items like finding the local flag, identifying the capitol, discovering music that is iconic to the location, etc. It can be as simple or elaborate as you'd like, but it will allow for an engaged experience that teaches your family about the destinations' culture along the way.


Research, Research, Research
As a family, do cultural research before you leave. Look up common norms and plan your trip around cultural elements that will allow you to immerse deeply into what makes the destination special.


Engage with the Locals
Consider hiring a local guide for the day, take a local cooking or art class or research history books for off-the-beaten-path landmarks. The locals can help you learn more about how to avoid tourist traps and crowds to make your experience feel more authentic.

A family posing for a picture in a foreign country
A family taking a picture with a city skyline in the background
A family riding their bikes along a dirt road

Learn the Language
Learn beyond the usual “hello,” “goodbye” and “thank you.” Learning a few pleasantries and phrases can go a long way in starting up conversations with locals. You can also plan a language immersion lesson with your family while visiting your destination as an activity too!


Embrace the Unexpected
Sometimes the unexpected is the most rewarding. Keeping safety in mind, throw the agenda away and allow your family to wander and get lost in a city or town. Walking through a city with nowhere to go, you may end up in beautiful areas that didn't make it on your itinerary; it also allows your family to think on their feet and get creative while exploring a new place.


Cooking Night
Consider having a night where you cook as a family, using recipes and ingredients your vacation destination is known for.


Unplug and Disconnect
Leave your phones and tablets behind and encourage your family to be present and mindful while together. This will help you absorb all the local sights, sounds and culture and build new memories on your vacation!

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