An interesting article at our LingQ Central blog shows the results of a survey of those participating in the 90-Day Challenge. Almost half of the respondents to a question on why the want to learn a language, chose an interest in the culture as the main reason. This was the largest group, and almost three times larger than the next group of respondents who want to learn a language for travel. This may seem to go against conventional wisdom. Most people whom you ask will usually answer that they want to learn a language for travel.
I think the difference is that those who say they want to learn a language for travel are not really prepared to put the effort into language learning that is required in order to achieve success. Those people who are serious about language learning, know that success depends on an interest in the culture.
I agree with this approach and always put the emphasis on exploring those things in the language that interest me, rather than polishing up a few phrases that I hope will work when I travel. In fact I have never had success in using the language in a country, when I have not previously invested a great deal of time in listening and reading and learning about the culture. In a way , the following video about my learning strategy reaffirms this principle.