travel responsibly

make a difference through travel

3 ways to prepare to travel to China while working full time

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

I am visiting China in a few weeks time and am trying to properly prepare myself for this trip. As I am in full time employment, however, I don´t really have so much time and energy to spend on this preparation. Here are three were efficient ways to get the most out of your time before the trip and of your travels through China themselves:

1) Do an audio language course

Learning a local language is a very important thing to do if you want to travel responsibly. It helps you connect with locals and save money on food not having to use the often overpriced English tourist menu besides others. Of course, while working full time you do not really feel like going to classes or sitting in front of books too much on your time off.

Something that has worked for me wonders in in the past for me are audio language courses, whereas I really like the Pimsleur courses. You can listen to these courses on your way to and from work or while lying relaxed on the the sofa in the evening. I have done the Brazilian Portuguese course and absolutely loved it. Now I am doing the same course for Mandarin Chinese.

In order to acquaintance myself with the signs of the written Chinese I use a book called Easy Peasy Chinese. It is really clear and well structured and teaches you also about Chinese culture and customs at the same time.
2) Read “Wild Swans – Three Daugthers of China” by Jung Chang

The autobiographic novel “Wild Swans – Three Daugthers of China” by Jung Chang is simply excellent. It tells the story of three generations of women in China in a very vivid and compelling way. Without even realising it you learn a lot about Chinese history, culture and customs, and understand how and why China developed to what it is nowadays.

3) Get a local guide

Instead of studying guidebooks in your time off, I would recommend you to book yourself a local guide instead. By getting local guides you not only give something back to the communities, but actually get proper insight knowledge of the country, culture and sights of a country. Tours by Locals is a good start. Here you can book seperate tours with local guides in the different areas of China.

If you would like to get everything packaged up and ready for you the Responsible Travel organisation offers great tours with local guides. With all their tours they try to maximise the positive impact and minimize the negative impacts of tourism.

Photo Credit: By Vin Crosbie via http://www.flickr.com

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