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Cultural travel is a type of travel that emphasizes experiencing life within a foreign culture, rather than from the outside as a temporary visitor. Cultural travelers leave their home environment at home, bringing only themselves and a desire to become part of the culture they visit. Cultural travel goes beyond cultural exploration or discovery; it involves a transformation in way of life.
This definition was first used by Gary Langer "Travel to Learn". Transitions Abroad. Transitions Abroad Publishing. 1: 12–15. March 1977. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) as a way of describing travel that requires a "transition" to a new level of understanding of and appreciation for a foreign culture.
The term is often distorted and misused by travel agents, tour operators and international tourism organizations. Culture primarily has to do with people and less with places or things. So visiting museums, touring ancient structures, attending festivals, and eating local food does not provide the same experience as becoming a member of the culture itself.. Expeditions are another form of cultural travel, apart from slave trade travel that has given us an insight to various unknown and less talked about cultures. The discovery of cultures hence completely depends upon these travel narratives, which speak about what travelers witness, rather than accounts given by people in power.