Our Approach to Travel

One of the great perks of teaching internationally is that we get to travel a lot! Thus, including travel as one of our site’s information categories makes sense. Yet, it is a vast topic! How can we narrow it down? 

Hundreds of websites, apps, bloggers, vloggers, and social networking resources provide plenty of tips, tricks, and insights on traveling efficiently and cost-effectively. There isn’t a need for us to cover this aspect of travel. 

And then there is the traveler versus tourist discussion. I did a little reading on this topic. Here are some takes on the two forms of travel. 

An Adventurous World - What is the Difference Between Tourists and Travelers?

The Travel - Tourist Vs. Traveler: What's the Difference, And Which Travel Type Is Right For You?

HuffPost - Take the Quiz: Are You a Traveler or a Tourist? 

Our approach connects to the telling of “Going Global Stories” in that international educators often have time during our vacations to explore to a deeper degree than many tourists because we have extended blocks of time to experience the culture of our travel spots. 

We also have ample time to truly explore our country of residence. Traveling in our host country for long weekends or extended breaks offers the opportunity to dive into local cultures, knowing we can return, so there is no rush to see and do everything on our travel list. 

Thus, being a traveler means, for many, a desire for exploration and adventure - not feeling a time constraint. This approach can mean taking an all-day cooking course, attending a multi-day meditation retreat, engaging in a few days of volunteering, or spending an afternoon at a temple for a class.  

We can also be tourists enjoying famous sights and highly planned activities that might be on our bucket lists. 😁

Our growing list of Going Global Stories about travel will offer up some inside scoops about the host cities and countries and the once-in-a-lifetime trips taken by our community members. Crowdsourcing via our Facebook group also will be vital in building up our library of travel strategies and resources.

Another angle we will take is to offer up lenses through which to view and experience cultures in depth and with zest! A few lenses that come to mind are:

  • Interacting through the outdoors and sporting activities

  • Documenting through photography and videography (Example: Vietnam photographer Ben on Instagram @benquick_vn

  • Connecting to the arts community

  • Making connections through volunteering

  • Understanding the cuisine through its history and learning to cook it

Let’s take the approach of interacting with culture through food to paint the picture of our approach. One place I start is by researching food and travel with prominent food vloggers. Here are a few who travel the world and have a home region where they provide many videos. 

  • Best Ever Food Review Show - Sonny is upfront about presenting strange foods as his hook to get you to watch his shows. Vietnam is Sonny’s home base, but he travels the world. His humor and sociability also pull you in. 

  • Migrationology with Mark Wiens - Mark is known for his facial expressions of eating enjoyment. Thailand is Mark’s home base, but he travels the world. 

  • Strictly Dumpling - Mikey doesn’t just eat noodles and dumplings. He eats just about everything, specializing in buffets and Chinese food. Mike’s home base is the US, but he travels the world. 

  • The Food Ranger - Trevor’s enthusiasm and love of culture come through in his videos. China is Trevor’s home base, but he travels the world. 

And then there are the YouTubers who mainly cover one country. Here are a couple of examples. 

  • Only in Japan - John covers Japan’s food, history, culture, and technology in this and a second channel.  

  • Max McFarlin - Max deeply loves Vietnam, its people, and its food. His speaking Vietnamese interacting with “aunties and uncles” is endearing.  

After viewing food and travel videos for a travel spot such as one of my favorites, Vietnam, my strategy is to create a new map on Google Maps to pin all the restaurants, markets, and cooking schools that catch my interest. 

Markets and street vendors are also a must in my travels. I love to see, smell and taste the ingredients while asking the sellers how their offerings are applied to the local cuisine. 

Travel guides focusing on food also help you dig below the surface. For example, I constantly pull out the Lonely Planet Eat Vietnam guidebook to help me learn about the history, ingredients, and health benefits of Vietnamese cuisine.

And then there are the cooking school opportunities in so many localities!

There are many more strategies to interact with local culture through food, so hopefully, this post gets you started on how you might interact with the food culture of your next travel location. :) 

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