When my close college friend messaged me, asking for my attendance at his wedding in his home country of India, I was in a bit of shock. I couldn’t help but think of this as a once in a lifetime opportunity and a trip I wouldn’t hesitate to make happen. While I’ve always been a big traveler, India will be something new for me having never visited an Asian country and knowing it will be very different than the culture I experience everyday at home in the US.
By no stretch of the imagination is my trip going to be something as grand and well executed at Kate’s Royal Tour to Southeast Asia last fall, but there is always something to be learned from the graceful Duchess. I don’t believe travel abroad this should be done lightly, and thankfully I have a wonderful role model to look to when it comes to international and culturally different travel.
Now with my tickets bought and tourist visa approved, I’ve started on all the other preparations that come with a trip like this keeping in mind what Kate would do.
Research the Culture
The one thing about Kate that has always impressed me is her knowledge of local culture. During both her Asia Pacific and North America tour, she communicates knowledge of customs through her clothing choices, such as wearing pearl pins in her hair in Malaysia, a custom of Malayan women at weddings, or dressing like the Canadian flag on Canada Day. Those little touches show that she has spent time finding out about the culture, giving respect to her host country. I also suspect she finds this type of preparation important since she has discussions with local dignitaries and residents.
For me this means doing my research on Indian wedding traditions or learning the customs for visiting the different religious temples around the country. I’ve also been watching documentaries on India, as well as reading a travel memoir. The more I know before I arrive, I too can show respect to Indian culture while providing a good example of my country abroad.
Kate has always had a knack for dressing appropriately, and she exceeds at this on her royal tours. In India women dress conservatively, covering their chest and shoulders, as well as their legs. Taking a cue from Kate, I have been planning ahead, finding clothing that will be conservative and comfortable in the hot summer sun. This also means arranging for a sari to be provided to me for the wedding, just like Kate and William wore grass skirts and headdresses during a ceremony in Tuvalu.
Be Open to New Things
The glorious thing about travel is how it provides you with rich new experiences. I have to imagine that attending a rodeo in Calgary or being hosted around on a throne in Tuvalu is not something Kate ever thought she would be doing, but they are the experiences that make life worth living and create memories to cherish. I will see so many new things on this trip, not to mention taste different food. By being open to new experiences, such as henna drawings before the wedding or elephant rides to see a temple, my trip will be all the richer for it.
Share Your Experience
It’s no good to travel and learn new things if you can’t share them. Even Kate felt compelled to share what she saw and learned on her Asia Pacific tour, releasing some of her private photos for public viewing afterwards. As an avid photographer too, I will be documenting my trip in photos and sharing them on my personal blog. It’s great when you can make the world a smaller place. It goes a long way in understanding and shorting the divide between different cultures.
I’m beyond excited about experiencing a new part of the world and being there to support my friend in this exciting time in his life. I know that by preparing like the Duchess, my trip will be the time of my life!