(ARTICLE BY FIONA PATERSON)
You are looking to book your next holiday, but which way do you go:culture or chill? Perhaps you are tired from the daily grind and fancy a holiday where you don’t have to do much but you still experience another country’s culture. Maybe you are a student who just wants to chill but feels pressured to travel gap year style and soak in the sights? Perhaps you want to see the world in a more relaxed, laid-back way to better suit your physical and mental health needs. All-inclusive beach holidays, or resorts on desert islands, sometimes takes a beating for their less active style of travel. But remember that culture is more than cities and landmarks; resort locations are still brimming with culture if you know where to look. Here are five ways you can still experience new places and take in the culture whilst also chilling on a sun-lounger and soaking up the rays.
- Book an excursion or hire a car for a day: There is usually lots going on at the resort but there are always places to see outside! Get the best of both worlds and chill by the pool for a few days and take some time to explore the local area. Even if you aren’t close to the town, your holiday provider will have a selection of bookable excursions to visit what’s worth seeing in the area. Check out some of the reviews before you fly and plan these in advance: if they are popular, they will get booked up! Don’t forget to grab the right insurance package if you are trying extreme sports like PADI diving or surfing.
- Try something fresh and local at the restaurants:All-inclusive restaurants will cater to all palates, but this is the perfect opportunity to try something new that you would not have tried otherwise. The all-inclusive nature means you won’t go hungry if it isn’t up your street! Most of these will have a section of local foods and meals, made authentically in the country of origin; a perfect, relaxed way to try something cultured on your beach break.
- Take a minute to speak to the resort employees: You are sitting at the poolside bar on a quiet morning and the bartender is not busy, so have a chat! More often than not, resort employees are locals and will have some fantastic stories to share. You only need to scan through TripAdvisor reviews to note how getting along with the resort staff can improve your holiday and widen your experience. Taking a minute to appreciate the people around you will not go amiss!
- Try some of the activities with other hotel guests: Even when relaxing by the pool, there is culture all round you – from the other guests! Hotel guests will come from all over the world and getting involved in some of the poolside activities like water polo and football (and often some more adventurous watersports) is a great way to break the ice. You may even make good friends and stay in touch! Other activities offered may be rare or not to be missed for their wow-factor: think kayaking, or a dance class local-style, or even just watching the sunset.
- Head to the local market, shops or beach pop-ups: Pick up local souvenirs to remember your holiday and add some culture to your home. Perhaps you’ll find a hand-woven carpet in Morocco or a Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) decorated skull from Mexico. Be aware of different local laws or customs when venturing outside your resort. You might need to cover your legs or shoulders and observe certain practices depending on where you are in the world.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your travel checklist and start looking for your next holiday. Make it all-inclusive for the perfect blend of culture and chill.