My new life in London has taken some getting used to. The people, customs and culture are very different here, even though they speak English. There are many foreign travelers, year around, in the city. As I walk through many of the city’s parks, such as Hyde Park, I see tourists taking pictures of the grey squirrels and trying to feed them. To me, coming from Seattle where grey squirrels are a common sight and frequently try and take the food out of the bird feeders, I consider them a nuisance. But to many, they are a rare and wonderous thing. Something to take a picture of and show to friends and family back home. To me the wild urban fox that haunt the streets and parks are exotic, but to a Londoner, they are a pest. It is all about perspective.
As a travel consultant, it is my job to help people plan and book trips to foreign destinations. When my clients travel abroad for the first time, I try and help them prepare by discussing some of the customs and practices that they may encounter during their trip. To many Americans, these practices might seem weird. They aren’t weird, just different. It is again about how one perceives the world around them. We can only compare experiences to what we know. Anything else is new, different and sometimes strange and confusing.
For those who would like travel to experience different cultures on a limited basis, I suggest ocean cruising. On these floating resorts, the traveler can have the familiar atmosphere of American style accommodations and food. They know that all the staff will speak English and that they will be understood, and their needs met. During port stops, they can disembark and explore on their own or with a guided tour the destination port. Returning to the comfort and familiarity of the ship at the end of the day.
The more adventurous travelers, who would like to experience more of the destination with hotels and restaurants in the locale, but still don’t feel comfortable traveling alone, I suggest a guided tour. This can be a large group, coach trip or a smaller group bus or train journey. These all have a tour manager and local guides for each stop. Your luggage is taken care of and there is someone to tell you want you are seeing, the history of the destination and the local customs. This is a more immersive way to travel, while still maintaining your comfort level of a group. The more immersive tours will even teach you how to use local transportation such as buses, subways or trains.
Traveling by river cruise combines the appeal of small group guided touring with the unpack once style of cruising. The rivers of Europe and Asia travel along the ancient waterways that have been used as highways for commerce for generations. River Cruising offers small group excursions that can immerse a traveler in culture one day and find him hiking, bike riding or canoeing the next. Today’s river cruise has adapted to cater to multi-generations traveling together. Travelers can partake in wine tasting on board prior to disembarking into the countryside to visit an active winery or an ancient monastery whose specialty is brewing beer.
No matter, which travel destination you choose, there are always multiple ways to travel to suit your individual needs, and comfort levels for exploring the cultural and historic places round the world. Don’t expect everything to be like it is at home. One travels, to experience new places and new faces. If you wanted everything to be the same as you can experience at home, you may as well book a staycation in your local city. Travel to learn about cultures and to broaden your perspectives, so that the world becomes a smaller place and you can feel connected to your neighbors around the globe. Contact me for help planning your next trip.