Travel is a brilliant funnel for absorbing culture. The nuances of a destination, its residents, traditions, and subcultures awaken our senses. What we observe and leave with can make a lasting impression and fill us with gratitude for our own lives. Our in-transit moments in particular allow for consummate reflection, where every flash of landscape out the window sparks a flicker of memory, and being still in our seat invites considerate and appreciative daydreaming.
To fully appreciate the different customs, traditions, and heritage you’ll discover on your journey, take some time between stops to consider the impact that culture has had in your own life. To help you contemplate this at 30,000 feet, we’ve developed a list of questions that encourage you to take stock of your destinations—past, present, and future—and think about how they’ve shaped you. Jot your thoughts down in a notebook, or copy them to your notes on your mobile device, and use this uninterrupted time to reflect. Check your answers again upon your return. After all, the evolution of your personal philosophies and perceptions is never-ending—so enjoy the process.
"Travel is a brilliant funnel for absorbing culture."
"What we observe and leave with can make a lasting impression and fill us with gratitude for our own lives."
photo by Seemi Samuel
"Jot your thoughts down in a notebook, copy them to your notes on your mobile device and use this uninterrupted time to reflect."
Quick warm-up exercises:
1. Make a flash profile of your culture experiences. What traditions did you inherit? Where have you traveled? What art/design/music/food do you love?
2. Which aspects of culture impact you the most?
3. What are your go-to culture stops at home? What about them inspires you?
The culture deep-dive:
- What significant moments in history have you witnessed in your lifetime (even from afar or through media)? Why have they stuck with you? Why do they feel significant?
- Think of someone you know who is intensely connected to their cultural heritage. What about them, their community, or traditions do you admire?
- Think of a time when you experienced culture shock. What was it that took you back? What impression did it leave on you?
- Step into the shoes of a curator for a moment. If you were putting on an exhibit or show under the theme of “the everyday” what would you include? Who do you invite? Who should see this? Why?
- If you were to be a champion of a cause or discipline, through whatever means make the most sense to you (philanthropy, advocacy, activism), which would it be and what would you do?
- What have you promised yourself you’d see or do but haven’t got to yet? What is holding you back?
- What are your expectations of your destination when you travel? Are there certain aspects of its culture that you are highly anticipating (the art and design scene, historical architecture, laid-back lifestyle, etc.)? Why?
- What was the last cultural event you took part in? Consider everything from a local film festival to an art opening to a seasonal celebration. What about it drew you in? What could you do where you’re going?
- How can you push some of these answers further at your next destination? What will you do while you’re there? What are you hoping to take away from the experience?
Written by Kim Budziak