Familiarising Your Children with Other Cultures Before You Travel
The world is full of some truly fascinating and amazing locations, from natural wonders like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA or the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. To the man-made wonders that are dispersed across the globe, like the Great Wall of China or Machu Picchu. However, most people that go travelling, do so for the sites and often overlook some of the best aspects of being somewhere new; the culture and the people.
Choosing Somewhere to Visit
Not only can the locals show you the some of the best-kept secrets in their hometown, but will usually welcome friendly tourists with open arms, keen to share in their culture and traditions. If you are planning a journey in which you can immerse you and your children in the local culture, consider looking at smaller towns and villages, rather than busy cities where everyone is rushing around on deadlines.
You’ll also want to think carefully about the type of places that would welcome travelling families, for example, the streets of Las Vegas are an inappropriate place to take young children. The town of Gandia in Spain, however, is the perfect place for a holidaying couple and their children, with plenty of sites to see, a lovely beach and some of the world’s friendliest locals.
While everyone has their individual personality, some cultures and countries are more welcome to wandering families than others.
For instance, Uganda is considered one of the most child-friendly cultures and the local kids will welcome any new body into their games and fun. Not only does this offer an excellent opportunity for your children to make many interesting friends, but it can teach them a lot about the differences between their world and their new friend’s world.
Taiwan, an island off the coast of China, is another location that scored high in child/family-friendliness, you’ll find plenty of smiles and approachable natures and Taiwan was also voted one of the highest in child safety.
Want to travel somewhere different? Malaysia can offer an insightful and enjoyable family holiday with plenty of places to visit and a mixture of rich cultures to learn about. The country of Malaysia is quite diverse with people coming from all walks of life, although over half the population is Muslim, so look out for delicious foods and some of the world’s most charitable people.
If hot weather and being outdoors is top of your list, Australia is a huge place with plenty of places to see and activities to take part in. Not to mention the people also have some huge personalities and as along as you are polite and respectful of local residential areas, you’ll find some interesting characters to enlighten you of the country’s history and native people.
Familiarising Yourself Before Your Travel
Some places differ in the way they do things and some actions that seem perfectly normal in your family could even be offensive in other cultures. It’s important you and your children acknowledge and respect these expectations when travelling outside your home country. While your children won’t be held as strictly, the best way to be respectful is to learn before you travel and try your utmost to uphold local customs.
Some examples include;
- When travelling in London, UK, the walk on the left, stand on the right rule is not a suggestion and busy commuters will call you out and not politely, if you are standing in the way of ‘traffic’ flow.
- In Denmark, taking a summer picnic in the local cemetery is welcome and encouraged to make the best use of space. The bonus for this type of use is the locals are happy to keep the area tidy and maintain the graves.
- In Japan, it’s perfectly acceptable (and again encouraged!) to slurp your noodles while eating. This shows you are enjoying your food and some people say that introducing air into your mouth while eating noodles enhances the flavour.
- In cultures where poverty and charity is more common, for instance in countries like Sri Lanka, the Middle East and parts of Africa, the left hand is generally considered unclean (as it’s used to clean yourself after using the bathroom). You should avoid using your left hand where possible and use your right hand for greeting, buying goods and especially while eating.
- If you are invited into a traditional Chinese home, there are several customs you should be aware of before sitting down to eat. For instance, chopsticks should never be placed upright in bowls of rice and you shouldn’t clean your plate, as this is a sign the host has not provided enough food.
While these customs may seem unusual in other countries, misunderstanding or not knowing about the local customs is a poor excuse for not following them and you should be respectful to any country you travel to or live in.
Make sure to grab a guide book before you go or research on local tourist websites to familiarise yourself with a culture before you travel to the country and most importantly, have a wonderful trip!