Summer travel isn’t all about ‘Merica. Don’t miss out on the truly delightful cultural experiences that you can find in these international destinations.
1. Give a gift in Russia
It’s normal for Russians to come bearing gifts when they visit one another’s home for a holiday, a party or a casual get-together. If you travel to the former Soviet bloc this summer, perfect the art of Russian gift-giving by bringing perfume, candy or even vodka to your hosts.
2. Squeeze a hand in India
Why are Americans so weird about same-sex hand-holding? Indian culture has got it down, though. If you venture to southeast Asia this summer, you’ll likely see adult men walking down the street holding hands as a sign of friendship. It’s kind of refreshing, actually.
3. Tell a story in Tajikistan
Storytelling is a grand tradition in many cultures, but it’s especially cool to hear storytelling in cultures that still rely heavily on oral history. Sojourn into the mountains outside of the Tajik capital of Dushanbe to hear expert storytelling over tea and fresh bread. There are no books in sight — the people have the stories memorized by heart.
4. Haggle like a champ in Spain
When you visit the markets of Spain, don’t take price tags at face value. Haggling is a serious form of art and dance in Spanish marketplaces. It’s amazing to watch experts at work, and even more amazing if you can snag a deal yourself.
5. Don’t skip the good stuff in Kenya
Americans are pretty terrible about skipping right over linguistic foreplay in conversation. But in most African cultures, like those in Kenya, it’s downright rude to talk about anything before discussing family, friends and health. How nice to have a caring conversation, right?
6. Kiss, kiss in Italy
OK, don’t start kissing strangers on the metro, but it’s commonplace for Italians to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. Once you meet someone in Italy, kiss the left cheek first and then the right. You’ll feel surprised at how much warmer interactions are when they start with friendly kisses.
7. Show your thong in Australia
No, not that thong. Rather delightfully, Australians refer to flip-flops and sandals as “thongs.” Do your best not to giggle — and make sure that if you make the dubious decision to wear a fanny pack on vacation, just don’t call it that.
8. Awaken to prayer in Turkey
Travel to the Middle East this summer and you’ll experience the sound of the call to prayer five times per day, including once in the earliest hours of the morning. The singing of a rich tenor over loudspeakers is surprisingly soothing.
9. Impromptu chanting for Chile
Especially with the World Cup this summer, your summer travels to Chile (read: winter travels, since Chile is in the southern hemisphere) will definitely incorporate a whole lot of impromptu national-pride chanting on the public transit. When things get really crazy, just yell something like “Chi-chi-chi-le-le-le! Viva Chile!” and you’ll do fine.
10. Throw a siesta in Mexico
Good ol’ America doesn’t practice the art of the midday siesta, and that’s really a shame, since it’s so good for the body and soul. If you visit Mexico this summer, enjoy the culture by carving out time from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. for napping and resting.