Why Interacting with People and their Cultures Provides a More Enriching Travel Experience
Leah Walker June 5, 2020

The word “travel” is often associated with white sand beaches, iconic landmarks, or some of the world’s most beloved cities. Travel is so often associated with landscapes and famous sites that we can easily forget one of its most important aspects – the people who live in those places.

People are what make the most memorable travel experiences stand apart from the rest. Maybe it’s the infectious smile of a craft-maker in a dense street market, or a soon-to-be friend who invites you into their home for a meal. These moments can quickly be overshadowed by photos of famous cathedrals or coconuts, but they’re much of what shape our travel experiences and our opinions of any particular travel destination.

Humans, their individual personalities and collective cultures, are much of what makes travel so addictive. People are one of the most important part the travel experience. Even the most postcard-worthy destinations wouldn’t be nearly as appealing without the people that live in the places we visit.

People Carry Their Culture

Many travel destinations remain popular for the rich cultural experiences visitors can have when exploring. A trip to the Indonesian island of Bali means becoming immersed in the island’s unique Hindu-Buddhist religion; visiting Spain means enjoying Flamenco music; exploring Mexico means sampling tamales, moles, and other native foods. None of these experiences would be had without the people who have held true to their traditions, carrying them through the years.

People Mold Our Travel Experiences

A simple interaction, positive or negative, can greatly affect the way we view a village, a country, or its people. The humans who call a destination home can offer insight into the area’s history and help us discover sights and tastes we wouldn’t have found without them. Something as simple as a friendly tuk tuk driver sharing little-known facts about an ancient temple or a local baker offering a taste of a pastry fresh out of the oven can bring happiness that wouldn’t otherwise experience. These small moments of generosity and joy create much larger impressions and shape our overall travel experiences.

People Shape Our Understanding of Ourselves

Traveling, experiencing new cultures, and interacting with people in their hometowns can give us a better understanding of ourselves. Discovering what we like and dislike about other cultures can give us a new perspective of what we like and dislike about ours. Simply being greeted kindly with a smile can encourage us to greet others the same way when they visit our homes. Viewing our cultures from a foreign perspective gives us superior insight into ourselves, and that’s something from which we can all benefit.

Human by Nature

Learning about people and their cultures is one of the most important parts of travel. It’s so important that destinations have included cultural experiences in their tourism campaigns for decades. However, one Indian state is doing it differently than ever before. Kerala Tourism recently launched its Human by Nature campaign to express how this region celebrates its nature and its people equally. Here, culture and nature work in harmony to create a travel destination that’s unlike any other in the world, and that’s what makes it worth visiting.

The Human by Nature campaign features everyday citizens of Kerala, like fishermen, school children, and restaurant workers, to show that these people, existing in harmony with Kerala’s unrivaled natural scenery, are what makes this travel destination so special. Kerala is a destination that exemplifies why human experiences are such an essential part of the travel experience.

Kerla India

I appreciate the Human by Nature campaign for its spotlight on the real people of the region, because no matter where you travel in the world, it’s the people who call it home that will shape your experience. As with all of my travels, I make a point to meet the people along the way. One day I’d like to sip on a coconut with the locals at the Kerala Backwaters or watch the tea plantation workers of Munnar.

Sponsored by Kerala Tourism 

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for five years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

1 Comments

  1. Absolutely couldn’t agree more with this lovely post and the points you’ve raised. For so many the point of travel is simply to take photos for social media, but that shouldn’t just be it. I’m now an expat living in the culturally rich Indonesia and it’s so incredibly beautiful to learn about the food, culture, teachings and language of the land. Thats the way I feel I can truly appreciate being in the place. I think its so amazing when i see other people learn a few phrases when travelling to a new country. It makes the locals so happy to see them trying

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