How To Make Resort Travel Culturally Immersive

How To Make Resort Travel Culturally Immersive

Now that summer is here, many people are gearing up for their summer vacations all over the world.  And really, what better place for a good R&R vacation than a beach-side resort?

You can have these views:

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These drinks:

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And the sand between your toes with nothing to think about besides what you’ll have for your next frozen beverage.

I love resort vacations as much as the next girl, but one thing that has become increasingly irksome to me is how little I get to see of the city or country where my resort is located.  I was recently asked whether I had any local friends in Nassau after having visited the island almost annually for 16 years.  And I was embarrassed to admit that no, I don’t really have any local friends.  I’m sure you know this feeling, too- you get off the plane and take a car to your hotel, and then you spend an entire week never leaving the property.  And, you haven’t even noticed, right?

In the last few years, I’ve begun to notice how little I actually knew about the resort destinations I’ve visited, so here I am with some helpful tips to help you get both the needed rest and relaxation you’re craving, along with a good dose of local culture to keep your mind and spirit active.

  • Get to know the geography. I know that this sounds like incredibly useless advice, but you’d be surprised at how important it can actually be!  I’m sure that you know all about the resort you’ll be staying at long before you get there, but do you know anything about the city or town closest to your resort?  Often times, resorts are located a bit outside the towns that host them, which makes the resorts such quiet and relaxing destinations, so you may need to get creative with how you get from your hotel to the town or local attractions.  With that being said, usually it’s fairly easy to manage with a taxi or local bus- this is something that the front desk staff at your hotel should be able to help you with.

 

  • Find the locals. In the towns surrounding tourist destinations, you will often find restaurants created for tourists, souvenir shopping, and other places that you wouldn’t ever actually find a local person. Instead of going to those places, figure out where it is that the locals actually spend their time, and there you will find the most authentic version of the place you’re visiting.  For example, during a trip earlier this year to Nassau in the Bahamas, I heard of a place called Da Fish Fry, which was meant to be a local spot to grab great seafood. Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 9.24.57 PMDespite my absolute loathing of any food that once swam, I decided it would be worth checking out.  Well, this experience absolutely changed my view of downtown Nassau, and I spent way more time outside of my resort, but also outside of the touristy Straw Market, and now I feel like I know Nassau a little bit better.

 

  • Attend local events. Whether you’re religious and want to attend a service at a local place of worship, or you want to attend the Junkanoo festival that Nassau holds on New Year’s Eve every year, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the local culture through their local events and celebrations.  The local tourism website will typically have a list of local activities, from farmer’s markets and artisan markets to music or cultural festivals.

 

  • Talk to the locals! Usually when you’re at a resort, all of the people that you meet are other guests who are also enjoying their vacations.  This might be a great way to meet people from across the world, but it’s not a good way to learn about the place that you’re actually visiting!  Lucky for you, there is an easy solution: talk to the employees at the resort.  Most of the time the people working at resorts are some of the friendliest you’ll meet as they work in a very customer service-focused business.  You can have a great chat with a bar tender, casino dealer, off-duty lifeguard, taxi driver, etc. to find out who they are, and maybe even what’s happening in town that night!

Resort vacations are an amazing way to relax and rewind, but they also offer a great opportunity to explore shockingly little-explored cultures around the world!  I encourage you to get off property for a day or afternoon to get some good local food, have some good conversations, and learn something new about the world around you.  The bonus to getting out of the resort for the day is the saved cost of buying typically expensive resort food in favor of less expensive food in town.  All around, exploring your surroundings while on a resort vacation will only help to improve your experience and allow you to make fantastic memories outside the confines of your hotel!

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