Things to do on a budget culture vacation



Traveling on a budget will often allow you to become part of a local community as you're invited to stay a night or two at a family home aka: a homestay. In Kerala, you'll eat like royalty and in Japan you'll bathe like royalty. In Cuba music fills the home and in Jordan, the desert envelops Bedouin camps under the stars.
When people open their doors to tourists traveling on a budget, you know that welcoming strangers is an innate part of their culture. There's nothing like moving in with a family for a couple of days to really get to grips with the culture of a place. Community spirit, traditional customs and just having fun or relaxing are part and parcel of a homestay experience and certain to say more about a country's cultural identity than any five-star hotel where everything comes at a price sometimes even the smiles. Learn how to cook in Cambodia, converse in Cuba and live like a local in India by building a homestay into your next budget culture vacation.

Travel overland

Avoiding expensive private cars and domestic flights by opting for an overland vacation. Public buses, sleeper trains, minibuses and custom built overland trucks are a great way to cut costs and discover a country or multiple countries at ground level. Real life happens on the ground, often away from busy tourist areas, and traveling across a country, overland, allows you to see how one region knits into the next as well as discovering the differences between life in a remote rural village and what you'll find in more built up urban environments. Delhi to Goa; La Paz to Santiago; Vientiane to Bangkok; overland travel is an affordable means of experiencing a country's cultural heritage, natural landscapes and preferred packed lunches. Sleeper trains reducing accommodation costs in favour of excitement on the overland express; while public buses give you chance to mingle with local people, heading out to work or to visit far-away family members.

Street food

The buzz, the melody, the sights, the smells; this is what makes life on the streets of Marrakech, Cusco and Ubud such exciting prospects for cultural travelers. Outdoor markets, street food stands and daily life will appear before your very eyes, just as it always has, as it always will. Chat to your guide and find out who sells the tastiest momo (Nepalese dumplings) in Kathmandu, the best banh khoai (pan fried crepe) in Hue or just pull up a plastic pew and trust your senses.

Spiritual sites

Most of us are searching for meaning and often that search has led to the creation of some incredible architectural designs, palatial properties and places of worship. From crumbling Mayan pyramids in Tikal National Park in Guatemala to Cambodia's Angkor Wat and the Hindu temples and Mughal mosques of India's Golden Triangle, ecclesiastical architecture and spiritual sites offer an incredible example of a country's ideology as well as a thought provoking back story to accompany art, symbolism and religious iconography.
Photo credits: [Homestay: Walter Lim] [Street food: Ritesh Man Tamrakar] [Spiritual sites: Ross Huggett]
Written by Chris Owen
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