“As with most things in life, what you get out of a trip is equal only to what you put into it. Learning about a place is part of the excitement of travel. Without prior preparation your experience is diminished because you miss the significance of what you are seeing and doing.” ~ Barrie Kerper
This sentiment is a central tenet of the way Pete and I like to travel.
Whether we’re visiting a city or place with a rich history, or an area known for it’s wildlife and natural habitat, or a country with a culture very distinct from our own, our trips are enriched by investing some time preparing for our visit, a large part of which is learning more about what it is we’ll be seeing and experiencing.
I’ve always loved history, so city break holidays often include reading up on the city’s past – allowing us to not only put historic sites into context, but to appreciate the different waves of influence on cuisine, culture, and architecture. As I’m particularly focused on food, learning about and trying local ingredients and dishes is a huge part of many a trip.
When it comes to wildlife and nature, it’s not just about spotting a particular animal or appreciating a pretty landscape, but learning about and observing typical behaviours for the different animals, seeing how various aspects of a habitat are key to an animal’s survival, watching how the individual interacts with others of its own kind as well and with other species… or discovering why ice bergs in the Antarctic are such a deep blue and how the amazing shapes and stripes are formed… or seeing (and feeling the heat of!) volcanic activity after reading the theory.
Cultural learning is another joy, whether it’s understanding the significance of different elements of a Japanese temple or shrine, or why the life and culture of hill tribes in Thailand differs from cultural practices elsewhere in Thailand (and properly appreciating just why the Thai people have so much love for the late King Rama IX).
Are there places you’ve visited where your experience was improved by learning more about the significance of what you saw and did?
Braga and nearby Porto are both wonderful cities for travellers who love to learn about history, not to mention enjoy excellent local cuisine. This photo is of the Episcopal Palace of Braga, in its historical old town.
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