Traveling is not about how many likes you got on your last Instagram post, how many cities or countries you have been to, or how many flights you have taken in the last 12 months. Instead, traveling should be about soaking up experiences and learning every step of the way.
Here’s why you should travel. Traveling is an incredible way to take a second to breathe, let go of that weight you have been hauling around, and be in the moment. Traveling gives you a sense of how others live. It helps you learn who you are, and it makes you a better person all around.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Travels
People are really incredible once you get to know them. Get to know the bartenders, cab drivers, even the staff in the place you’re staying at. You’ll be amazed at how one conversation can lead to another, and the next thing you know, you’re singing karaoke at a wedding in a Vietnamese village in the middle of nowhere.
Do what the locals do. Are you in Japan where people frequent pachinko parlors? Is it a place where soccer is huge? Soak it all in. You won’t forget the excitement that comes along with cheering for a team you know nothing about and hugging the stranger next to you when their team scores.
Live Like a Local
Experience what the locals do for a living. Are you in a fishing village? Do the locals work in the paddy fields? Maybe the village famous for its woodwork? If you’ve made local friends, it won’t be difficult for you to suggest to join them for a day or two and get your hands dirty. You might even learn a skill or two.
Another way to live like a local is to stay at a homestay or couch-surf with a family. This is a great way to make lasting connections. It is also an excellent way to enjoy homecooked meals, something us travelers definitely miss about being home. Your newfound local friends will also be able to help by suggesting things to do while traveling in their hometown.
Eat Like a Local
Food is a huge part of the culture of a place. If you see local people queueing at a roadside stall, join them! Most of the time, you’ll find that it pays off. If the locals eat on makeshift tables by the side of the road with their hands, check it out. It sure beats constantly having McDonald’s on your trips.
It is also a wiser choice. For example, take drinking local coffee instead of paying five times more for a Starbucks coffee. You’ll not only save your travel money, but you might also find that the local choice is the better one.
Experience Local Festivals
Before traveling to any place, do a bit of research. Are there any festivals or holidays happening around that time? Knowing what’s going on will give you a chance to celebrate with the locals.
Imagine standing among entranced body piercers during the Thaipusam festival or learning a dance to thank the gods for a bountiful harvest during Borneo’s rice harvest festival. Local festivals should always be a thing to consider when choosing travel dates.
Worship the beauty of nature on your travels by going hiking, diving, stargazing, or fishing. There are endless activities you can do to marvel at nature’s wonders. Camp in the wild and animal watch, or if you’re looking for something slightly more relaxing, there’s always glamping.
If you plan to spend time in nature, don’t forget to pack some essential things you will need for traveling in the wild. You don’t want to end up stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing but the clothes on your back.
Have a Spiritual Experience
Even if you are not a religious person, make it a point to visit religious sites on your travels. They’re magnificent, so gawk at them and soak in the emotions and spirituality filling the place. Marvel at the architecture and say a little prayer if you’d like.
Experience the calm of a Buddhist chant in a temple while listening to a stream trickling by. If you have more time, refresh yourself at a spiritual retreat to gain clarity on life. There are many retreats out there that combine yoga, spirituality, and wellness.
Learn Local History
Bring a book along to read during your quiet moments about the history of the place you’re visiting. This will give you much insight into the culture, people, and architecture surrounding you. Set aside a portion of your travels to visit palaces, museums, old buildings, and landmarks. Joining a historical tour isn’t a bad idea as well.
Have a cup of joe at a café near a busy intersection and watch the world go by. Read a book or journal about your trip. Write postcards to loved ones back home. Take some time to relish in the fact that you are not rushing to a meeting or to complete a mundane errand.
People-watching can be a way to begin your day before visiting a city, or to wind down after. It gives you a sense of the mood of the city and its street style. Bonus points if there are street musicians around!
Go on Walking Tours and Take Public Transportation
There are few better ways to experience a city than walking tours. A lot of these are free or don’t cost much, and are conducted by locals. You’ll be able to cover a lot of ground in a half-day tour and might even make a friend or two along the way. It’s an excellent form of exercise and an easy introduction to a city you’re unfamiliar with.
Public transportation helps you get around cheaply and offers a wholesome travel experience. You’ll build confidence by learning how to read maps and routes, and communicating with locals in a foreign language. Just beware of pick-pockets!
Opt for a bus or train ride instead of a flight if you have multiple stops on your trip. Not only is it a more scenic route, but you’ll be amused at the interesting things people take on board. There are so many fun things to do on a long bus ride. Besides people watching, you could journal, read, strike up conversations, listen to podcasts, or play games.
Learn a New Skill
Challenge yourself by learning a new skill, whether it’s rock climbing or taking a cooking class. It might ignite a love that you take with you even after your travels have ended. Being on a trip somehow makes the best of us let our guard down, and we’re more willing to learn new skills that we otherwise tend to put aside during our “normal” days.
How about learning a whole new language? Whether it’s a few words or a few phrases, speaking the local language will go a long way in making your travels easier and more enjoyable. Locals tend to treat you nicer when they see you making an effort, and might even give you a discount on your next meal.
Do something you’ve never done. Travel is an opportunity to try something new, whether it’s an unfamiliar activity or sampling a local dish, however weird it might seem. Get out of your comfort zone. More often than not, you’ll be learning more about yourself than the place itself. Being able to say, “I’ve tried that,” will give you more pride than you think.
Set some time aside during your trip and just go where the day takes you. Take a page from improv actors and say, “Yes, and…” You’ll find yourself in weird situations, sure. Unforgettable ones? Definitely! How about leaving the maps behind for a bit? Don’t worry about getting lost. Satisfy your impulsivity, but of course, always keep safety in mind.
During your trip, find a place that needs help and dedicate some time to that. Join a program to build houses, teach English to local kids, or help conserve wildlife. Not only do many of these programs lower your travel cost with free lodging, but you also get to help make the world a better place while you’re at it. There are many programs out there that organize volunteer travel.
Record Your Travels
Like it or not, our memory isn’t as trustworthy as we’d hope. Record your travels by taking photos, filling up a travel journal, or even video blogging. Take a few moments out of your day to note down what you did, along with your thoughts and emotions.
Having these records to look back on will give you a chance to relive your adventures. We are so lucky to be living in an age where it’s so easy to do this.
Ask anyone what they miss most about this unprecedented halt in international travel, and many will express how much they long to travel again, so much so that some airlines have started flights to nowhere as a way to keep themselves afloat.
Truthfully, though, you do not need to take a flight to some faraway place for it to count as travel. If you’re thinking about where you should travel to next, just do a Google search for places to visit or nature activities to do around you. You’ll find many suggestions to cure your travel bug. Embark on your next travel adventure today!