Contributed to Fair Dinkum Traveller
A week spent sunbathing and seeing the local sights makes for a great vacation but sometimes, you want something more. If you’re just going to the same old beach resorts every year, you’ll still enjoy yourself but after a while, you might start to wish for something a bit more meaningful and worthwhile.
Travel can be a way to get away from the stresses of modern life and just take a breather, returning home feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work. But it can be so much more than that, rather than just being an escape, you should start to think of travel as an opportunity to improve your lives and enrich who you are as a person, but you aren’t going to do that laying on a beach in a holiday resort.
If you want to make travel a life changing experience rather than just a week away from work, follow these simple steps to make it more meaningful.
Give Something Back
If you’re able to go away each year to somewhere nice, you’re living a far better life than a lot of people around the world. There are so many people around the world that don’t have the luxuries that we do and giving something back to them is a brilliant way to enrich your travel experience.
You could see what charity events are going on while you’re over there and see if you can get involved, sometimes it’s a good way of seeing more of the country as well. If you get involved in something like a Charity Drive, you’ll get the chance to drive across the country, seeing parts that you might otherwise have missed, and you’ll be helping somebody out at the same time.
Volunteering is another great choice for people that want to give back while they’re away. It’s such a brilliant opportunity because it gives you the chance to visit places that you probably wouldn’t normally consider for a week away. While you’re out there you can get to know the locals a lot better and help to improve their lives in a very real and long lasting way. Whether you’re helping to build schools or install wells, volunteering is a great way to make your travel experience more meaningful.
Immerse Yourself In The Culture
One of the best things about traveling is learning about a culture that is so wildly different to your own, which can often change the way that you see the world. Yet so many tourists make the mistake of never fully engaging with the locals and their culture while they’re in another country. You’ve got to step outside your comfort zone and get stuck in if you want to get the most out of your trip.
You don’t need to be fluent when you go over there but it’s worth at least learning a few basic phrases so you can chat with people a little. Meeting them halfway is always better than them having to do all of the work. Look for any opportunity you can to talk to the locals.
When you’re there you should see all of the tourist sites but don’t spend all of your time doing that. There’s no point going halfway across the world and sitting in a bar with a load of people from your own country. Get out of the tourist areas and go to the places where the locals are. It’s only there that you’ll see the real country and learn about their culture properly. When you meet locals always be sure to ask them what their recommendations are while you’re in the country, they’ll have much better information than any of the travel guides.
See The Wildlife
Another great thing about traveling around the world is that you’ll come into contact with nature and wildlife that you can’t see anywhere else. Properly connecting with nature can help you to gain perspective on things and realize that the things that are stressing you out at home are, in the grand scheme of things, pretty irrelevant. Some of the best life changing travel experiences come from an encounter with an incredible exotic animal. Even though you might have seen some of these animals in a zoo back home, there’s nothing like seeing them in their natural habitat where you can get up close and personal.
See if there are any national parks or nature reserves around near where you’re staying that you can visit, but don’t forget to take notice of the animals that roam free around the cities and country sides.
Learn Something New
If you come back from a trip and you haven’t learned anything while you’re out there, you’ve let yourself down. Travel is full of so many amazing learning experiences and the more you pick up from another country, the more valuable that travel experience has been. Taking a cooking class is one of the best things to do because you can buy local ingredients to take home with you and then learn from a local person how to make an authentic dish. The results are going to be so much better than if you’d just followed a recipe using stuff from the supermarket.
Learning the language is another great skill to have and you can always build on it on return visits. You can also find historical tours in pretty much every place that you go to. It’s worth taking those tours so you can get a real understanding of the country’s past and immerse yourself further into its. Learning the history of countries also improves your general overall knowledge about the world. It doesn’t matter what you learn while you’re away, as long as you make sure that you learn something that improves your life in some way, no matter how small it might be.
Next time you’re booking a trip, don’t just think of it as a chance to escape. Think about how you can make that travel experience more meaningful and choose your vacation accordingly.