One of the most exciting parts of traveling is experiencing different countries and cultures. But sometimes it’s easy to forget that this doesn’t just mean the big-ticket monuments and sites – traditional ways of life can be just as fascinating and distinct from one another. With this in mind, we’ve put together a series of posters to explore a unique day in the life of 11 of the world’s best travel destinations.
1. Altiplano (Bolivia)
On the Altiplano, a high Andean plain, the day begins early. Many local Aymara and Quechua are pastoralists, raising alpacas and llamas, so breakfast needs to be hearty. Salteñas, or meat pastries, provide plenty of fuel for a day spent on their feet herding their flock. Peanut soup – sopa de mani – keeps the chill away at lunchtime, as does a hearty dinner of mondongo, or fried pork and corn, in the evening. Bolivia’s famous for its indigenous cultures, so it’s no surprise that colorful fiestas are a traditional pastime, with lively dancing and vibrant costumes.
2. Assam (India)
Assam, in northeast India, is well known for its black teas – and it takes an army of pickers to harvest them. In rural areas, after a breakfast of jolpan, or cream, rice and jaggery, it’s often just a short cycle to work. Much of the day is spent picking leaves, with a communal lunch of curry. As in much of India, a popular way to unwind is watching a lively Bollywood movie, perhap with a local dinner of masor tenga, or curried fish. For those living in a traditional way, heading to bed means unrolling blankets on the floor.
3. Eyasi (Tanzania)
Tanzania’s a study in contrasts. Far from the bustle of Dar es Salaam, the Hadza live in a centuries-old fashion as hunter-gatherers around Lake Eyasi. Food comes from the land, so the morning will often begin with a meal of foraged tubers or baobab. The rest of the day is spent divided into groups, with some searching for berries or tubers, and others on the hunt for animals. If successful, lunch could include birdmeat as well. The camp’s the heart of the tribe, with traditional songs providing entertainment as night falls. Bed is often packed earth underneath a temporary shelter.
4. Himalayas (Nepal)
The Sherpa are some of the world’s most iconic mountaineers, known for their hardiness in the tough environment of the Himalayas. Although their culture differs from the average Nepalese, breakfast – and lunch – is not dissimilar: a simple meal of dal bhat, or rice with lentil stew. The working day can be tough, spent largely on foot, guiding climbers on expeditions. An important part of their Buddhist heritage is cham, or masked dances. After a dinner of shakpa – potato stew – it’s time for bed. In older homes, this means colorful blankets on a platform bed.
5. Kwabre (Ghana)
Kwabre is home to many Ashanti weavers, producing the instantly recognizable kente cloth, A traditional day starts with a breakfast of koko, or millet porridge, before work. This might involve weaving a ceremonial outfit or headscarf, with their distinctive primary-hued patterns. Like many West Africans, lunch could be a stop for jollof rice – a spicy favorite. Free time means a chance to browse the lively local markets before dinner. Another favorite here is fufu and goat light soup, made with cassava and plantain flour. The climate means mosquito nets are a must for a good night’s sleep.
6. Seoul (South Korea)
Life is busy in bustling Seoul, and it’s no exception for high schoolers, After a breakfast of soup and rice with banchan or side dishes, it’s off to school by bus. It’s a long day, with a heavy emphasis on exam preparation for college entrance. A nutritious lunch of rice with kimchi and vegetables helps refuel for the afternoon. With a short break to relax, have dinner and play video games, many head to the hagwon – the cram schools where they’ll continue revision. In a traditional household with minimal furniture, bed is a yo, or padded floor mattress.
7. Silicon Valley (USA)
For a software developer in the world’s most famous tech hub, there’s often a big emphasis on wellbeing and balance. Starting the day with a healthy smoothie, the commute to work is generally by car. The day’s spent coding and planning future developments. With plenty of multicultural food to choose from, a Mexican-style burrito makes for a popular lunch choice. After a day at a desk, working out is a favorite pastime, whether it’s at the gym or going for a run. Networking events in the evening provide opportunities to meet industry peers and contacts.
8. Siorapaluk (Greenland)
Here in Greenland’s northernmost Inuit settlement, some still observe a traditional life as hunters. With a harsh climate, breakfast is often seafood,such as dried fish. Dog-sledding is still the most efficient method of transport across snow and ice. A lunch of seal meat is just as traditional, with some of it provided by the hunters themselves. In the long summers, there’s plenty of time for leisure, like kayaking, one of the most popular sports in Greenland. A typical local dinner includes suaasat: seal or reindeer meat stew. Old-style homes will sometimes include a platform bed topped with thick blankets.
9. Venice (Italy)
Gondoliers, with their distinctive boater hats and striped shirts, are a classic feature of Venetian life. Breakfast is simple – just a quick cappuccino – before beginning work rowing gondolas through the city’s famous canals, ferrying both tourists and locals. Venice’s cuisine is based around seafood, with a typical lunch being the distinctive black squid risotto. After a day’s work, many will kick back and watch a soccer game. A Venetian dinner again draws from the sea, with dishes like dried cod and polenta.
10. Wadi Rum (Jordan)
Many Jordanian Bedouin live urban lifestyles, but some, like in Wadi Rum, have continued a semi-traditional lifestyle by switching from goat-farming to guiding tourists. A guide’s day could begin with labneh, or a refreshing local yogurt that’s often flavored with herbs. Transport’s often by truck, but tourist expeditions can mean a camel ride through the wadis. Galayet bandorah, or tomato stew, makes for a filling lunch. Older-style entertainments, like qasidah, or sung poetry, accompany a shared zarb, or lamb cooked in an earth-pit barbecue. When it’s time for bed, blankets and pillows are placed out in traditional tents.
11. Wanaka, New Zealand
Wanaka is one of New Zealand’s most popular skiing areas, with some of its best slopes. For ski instructors, this means plenty of students to keep them busy. Cereal, toast and coffee get the day off to a start, before a short bus ride to the resorts. A full lesson schedule is punctuated with a lunch of steak and bacon pie. The region’s perfect for outdoor activities, with mountain biking being popular for many in their free time. In the evening, it’s time to take advantage of happy hour to meet friends for drinks in one of the local bars.
There’s often more than meets the eye in our favorite travel destinations – and how better to experience a different culture than to discover its traditional ‘everyday’? Perhaps our tour of 11 unique days around the world has given you a new insight into an old vacation spot – or maybe you’ve found an exciting new one for your next trip.
- The Culture Trip. (2017) The best traditional foods you need to try on your trip to Bolivia. theculturetrip.com
- Bolivia Bella. (2018) Traditions: typical Bolivian houses. boliviabella.com
- Barcroft TV. (2018) The hard-working female tea-pickers of Assam. barcroft.tv
- Financial Times. (2015) In Tanzania with Africa’s last hunter-gatherers. ft.com
- Every Culture. (2018) Sherpas. everyculture.com
- Khan Academy. (2018) Kente cloth. khanacademy.com
- BBC. (2013) South Korea’s schools: long days, high results. bbc.co.uk
- The Culture Trip. (2016) A day in the life of a San Francisco techie. theculturetrip.com
- NSIDC. (2008) A change in the weather. nsidc.org
- Reuters. (2013) Venice gondola builders strive to keep tradition alive. reuters.com
- Wadi Rum. (2018) Bedouins. wadirum.jo
- Non Stop Now (2018). Life of a ski instructor in Wanaka, New Zealand. nonstopnow.com