1. Travel alone. Not everyone can do this but avoid groups especially of your own culture or nationality. You’re supposed to be attracted to differences not comparing with home!
  2. Travel light. Quite apart from the practicalities, there are few places in the world where you cannot buy essentials. And the process will be instructive!
  3. Do basic research, no more. Understand some of the essentials of a culture - size, population and its distribution, key economics, some recent history etc but not much else. Be wary of those interpreting to you from their own standpoint. That is what you are there for!
  4. Learn some of the language. Essential to break the ice, especially so for anglophones with our dreadful reluctance to reach out linguistically. The rewards will be doubly satisfying as a result.
  5. Leave prejudices at home. Too many of us travel with our own baggage train of ‘the way things should be done’. Retain the humility to know this is the wrong approach and will soon reveal itself with negative results. ‘Knowing better’ is an abiding sin and needs careful management if not strangling at birth!
  6. Try and be something other than a tourist – work, volunteer, write or research. Change the dynamic with the locals by appearing as something other than a visitor passing through. People rapidly forget your stranger status and will relate to you through a common agenda.
Flag raising
From Chapter 2: US Independence Day 1969, Upstate New York. My Summer Camp boss chose the only Brit present to conduct the flag raising ceremony. I behaved myself.
From Chapter 7: The vibrant colours of Valparaiso on Chile’s Pacific coast are a sharp contrast to the austere High Andes of Bolivia and Peru
From Chapter 8: Dignity of urban design and townscape such as this is increasingly rare in the fast growing Middle East. Nizwa, Oman 2006
From Chapter 10: Domestic chores still done in the town’s water supply, Deoghar India 2013.
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