Culture travel is a transformative experience, which allows travelers to immerse themselves in the taste, sights, sounds, and traditions of the destination, and more deeply the authentic lifestyle of the common man. Winnie Sabbat’s debut memoir title Petit-a-Petit: One Woman’s Journey Across the Globe in Search of Happiness, chronicles her international travels and how experiencing different cultures helped her change her mindset, connect to her spirituality, and broaden her horizon while enhancing her tolerance for uncertainty. In the past three years, she has traveled to colorful destinations including Thailand, Costa Rica, Paris, Mykonos, Cuba, South Africa, and Iceland. The millennial memoirist shared some of her educational and eye-opening experiences abroad.
Culture travel is not just about museums and festivals but about the people. It’s more than just the discovery of artifacts, landmarks, and social media posing. Most international travelers who embark on true culture travel experiences, find that the adventures have made them grateful and more open-minded to life beyond what we are presented with here in America.
Sabbat visited Cuba during the first Christmas and New Year’s holiday after Castro died. She got to hear from locals on how they truly felt about the state of the country, their earning potential, and how they felt about Americans. The Cubans she spoke with shared that they hold no ill will against Americans, they are grateful for the healthcare and education system (99% literacy rate), but earning potential is limited which means everyone must hustle and has a side gig to make ends meet.
Prior to her trip to Mykonos, she was warned that people from Greece could be racist against women of color, however, her experience was the complete opposite. Sabbat learned that parental protection is genuine worldwide. “The owners of the bed and breakfast treated me more like a daughter than anything else and always made sure that I was safe coming out from hanging out at night.” Small businesses woes are also global. “The couple openly talked to me about the state of the economy and their worry about being able to continue to own their business as taxes are costly.”
An eye-opener in Thailand was the blatant openness of prostitution. Sabbat says it was incredibly sad to see. It hit home for her because members of her own family were at some point exchanging sex for money to make ends meet. Experiencing other cultures often can awaken us to the harsh realities shared by a multitude of cultures around the globe with education, healthcare, and income generation often being common areas of concern for those in the U.S and abroad.
So, the next time you set out to get that passport stamp, consider going a bit deeper in your experience and immerse yourself in compassionate conversation and deeper observations of the culture you are visiting. As residents of the United States, be open to attempting the native tongue, try a local cooking traditional, support local businesses and most importantly travel with an open mind to see the world through a different lens.
Sabbat’s memoir can be purchased here: Petit-a-Petit: One Woman’s Journey Across the Globe in Search of Happiness.