Fun Ways to Connect with Your Destination

As travelers, how we see and interact with the places we visit matters! It informs our perception of a culture and its people, it teaches us lessons about our own lives, and also what we tell others about our experiences. 

In our Wandering Soul Sisters community, we were recently talking about our favorite ways to get to know a new destination. There were a couple of activities that came up repeatedly as great ways to get a sense of the everyday life in a place. Not surprisingly, these are a regular part of our lives, but probably given little thought.

Grocery Shopping

This is my personal favorite! I absolutely love going into a grocery store or open air market in a new place and seeing what’s on offer. Besides the fact that I love food as a general concept, it provides a better understanding of the local culture to see what people use to sustain themselves everyday. You get to observe what kinds of flavors they prefer, which ingredients are readily available, and even how the presentation varies from home.

You’ll notice interesting local trends too. For example, in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (possibly Finland, but I haven’t been yet) they seem to love gummy candies. Every grocery store has a fairly large wall of different sorts of gummies, especially black licorice flavor. You see locals of all ages grabbing them as a treat. Obviously I had to try some myself, and I’ll say it was a mixed bag, but overall interesting with varying levels of enjoyment. Why is this a trend? I don’t know the answer to this, but simply noticing it gives me food for thought. (See what I did there?!)

So many different gummies to choose from! I stick mostly to the fruit flavors…

One of the food items I love to explore is the different flavors of potato chips! It’s fascinating to see what they come up with around the globe. I’ve seen everything from Prawn Cocktail (not my favorite) to Rotisserie Chicken with Herbs (hands down my favorite of all time!) and so many other options in between. Now I made myself hungry and am noshing on a bag of my favorites from the UK, Walkers Cheese & Onion, while I write… (I have a secret stash!)

If you only knew how many pictures I have of potato chip bags… These are just a few from the last year!

What have been your favorite cuisine discoveries from your travels?

Public Transportation

One of our community members pointed out how liberating it is to figure out the public transportation system and be able to get around on your own. I hadn’t really thought of it that way before, but it’s totally true! Not only does it give you the freedom to explore on your own terms, but it also gives you insight into how the locals move about.

One of my absolute favorite methods of travel is by train. With comfortable seats and big picture windows, you have nothing to do but watch the world go by. I usually get my Spotify going and make myself a playlist that I’ll listen to as a soundtrack to remind me of the experience. You see people traveling from one part of the country to another to visit family or on business. This is a much less stressful way to get around – just sit back and enjoy the ride. 🙂

Waiting for our train from Oslo to Flam in Norway

On the Norway train trip with my mom from Oslo to Bergen this summer, we saw everything from graffiti on the concrete barriers as we left the city to majestic mountain lakes and forests. It was hands down one of the most beautiful train rides I’ve ever experienced! 

In the big cities, using the subway or tram system is not only interesting, it’s a much more efficient way to get around! When I go to London and am above ground, there’s always a moment where I remember how many thousands of people are moving around under my feet and it totally trips me out! For a city with more than 8 million people, they do a pretty good job of managing traffic so it doesn’t feel like a chaotic frenzy. Plus when you ride the Tube you see all of society together — from business men in suits to unconventional types with tattoos and piercings (my people!).

Heading back to my hostel via the metro after a night out with friends in Stockholm.

Your Turn

What are your favorite ways to connect with the places you visit? What have you learned about the local culture or yourself from these experiences?