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Travel tips

5 cultural moments to experience on tour

Mar 18, 2021 by Erin Arbaugh

Around here, traveling isn’t just about seeing the sites (although we do love a clear night under the Eiffel Tower’s lights). It’s also about cultivating deep connections and meaningful relationships with people and communities everywhere we go.

So, it’s no wonder you’ll find rich, local experiences on every tour you take. From supporting animal sanctuaries to eating farm-to-table meals at a rustic Italian farm stay, here’s a quick hit of the signature cultural moments you’ll have with our local partners around the world.


1. Get into the Slow Food movement at an agriturismo in Italy

Just outside of Sorrento, Italy, you’ll find Agriturismo Fattoria Terranova, a 14-acre, family-owned farm stay with breathtaking views of the Bay of Naples. The abundant gardens, rolling fields, and plentiful vegetation stock the kitchen for Chef Francesca, who serves decadent Italian meals with perfect wine pairings. Terranova supports the Slow Food Movement, which focuses on eating local food and embracing traditional cooking. That means you’re in for the most delicious meal of your life.

“It doesn’t get any fresher than the courses set before us during this excursion, and the expert preparation highlighted the cooking styles of the Italian coast and allowed seasonal flavors to shine,” said Go Ahead staffer Jamie, after visiting visiting Terranova on tour with her family. “For almost three hours, overflowing plates of home-cooked specialties made their way from the kitchen to our table, and each was even more delicious than the last.”

See what else made Jamie’s time at Terranova unforgettable >


2. Help elephants heal at a wildlife sanctuary in Thailand

At Go Ahead, we’re relentlessly committed to respecting and promoting animal welfare. That’s why we love taking travelers to ChangChill, an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There, you’ll walk and talk with Mahouts, or elephant caretakers, as you watch elephants roam freely through vast fields. ChangChill promotes responsible animal tourism, so you won’t touch or ride the gentle giants who call ChangChill home. Instead, you’ll help make medicine and food for the elephants, so they can continue to thrive.

Traveler Maureen said her visit to ChangChill was a highlight of her Thailand tour. “The elephants are nursed back to health and get to live out their lives there. We learned about what they eat, watched them bathe in the river, and fed them bananas!”

Read more about our commitment to responsible tourism >


3. Meet the Meena people and support their village in India

For us, traveling is an incredible opportunity to understand other people, and ourselves, on a deeper level. That’s why, when we visit local villages and native tribes, we skip the performances and touristy spectacles, and opt for conversations that create a more complete view of modern daily life.

Our stop to meet the Meena people in Rajasthan, India on our tour of India is no different. Once you arrive, a Pradhan, or local elder, will guide you through the area, as you learn about the tribe’s distinct language, culture, and history. You’ll even visit a home and a few small shops, where you’re welcome to chat with villagers and learn more about their heritage.

Your visit with the Meena tribe also supports local infrastructure—Go Ahead donates funds on behalf of your group so villagers can repair street lighting, maintain their homes, and improve public plumbing.


4. Sip a piña colada at an organic pineapple farm in Costa Rica

Wander with us into the rural rainforest in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica on tour, and you’ll meet Maikol and Rolando—delightful organic pineapple farmers with a passion for shaping the future of agriculture. Together, they’ll show you the value of eco-friendly, sustainable farming (and serve you the best piña colada on the planet, too). Maikol will explain how the farm turned to compost fertilization, natural herbicides, and crop rotation to become one of the leading eco-friendly farming organizations in Costa Rica.

Go Ahead traveler, Allison, loved having a “pura vida” moment on tour. “I truly felt as if we were experiencing the real Costa Rica… I liked that we didn’t just drive through a plantation, but that we stopped and actually got a better idea of how it all works…**Costa Rica’s pineapples are the BOMB!**”

Traditional weaving by villagers of the Sacred Valley, Peru

5. Learn to spin and dye alpaca yarn with textile artisans in Peru

Nestled in the Vilcabamba Range of the Peruvian Andes, you’ll find a group of indigenous Quechuan women committed to preserving ancient weaving techniques. Together, they’ve formed El Balcón del Inka, a cooperative of 13 different families who weave and sell gorgeously intricate textiles.

When you visit their village on tour in Peru, you’ll learn about traditional Andean weaving techniques on your own loom and see how the Quechuan women spin and naturally dye alpaca yarn. At the end of the lesson, you can wander down to the market to pick out a textile to take home (and support the community while you’re at it).

“From the alpaca, to the spinning, to coloring, to weaving, to the finished product—visiting with the Quechuan women and learning about how they weave the textiles was a highlight of the tour,” said traveler Dona. “Everyone should have the opportunity to see this!”

What are some of the most immersive moments you’ve experienced while traveling on a Go Ahead Tour? Share your travel memories with us on our Facebook page!

About the author | Erin Arbaugh
Erin grew up in New York’s winding woods, where she discovered a love for a lot of adventure, a little danger, and plenty of bug spray. Since then, she’s backpacked across Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in a white out snowstorm, gone waterfall jumping in Costa Rica, and escaped the Patagonian wilderness just before COVID slammed the borders shut. Erin’s never met a food she won’t try once (lookin’ at you, fermented shark) or a wallet she can’t lose at least twice on any trip. Luckily, just like every trip's memories, it always comes right back.

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