Ever since I was little I have been obsessed with traveling. From a young age I have camped out on mountains, hiked on some of the most beautiful trails and although not often, splurged on some luxurious hotels. Sometimes it feels like I’ve walked through every gift shop out there, and I probably have! Although these were fun places to dip into when I was young, I really have never been interested in your typical shot glass or fridge magnet. Instead, send me to an underground, lesser known restaurant to enjoy a beautifully crafted meal or a local boutique that has handmade clothing and other odds and ends!
While I love to check out these lesser known finds during my travels, my newest addition to my travel wishlist is to become more involved with the local residents and culture. To me, my travels are all about the experiences and less about the materialistic objects. Here are a few reasons why my travel wishlist has changed over time, and enjoy my love for immersing myself in the most beautiful opportunities and experiences.
Getting to know local residents can change your trip entirely. They know exactly where tourists won’t go and how to get the best deals on stuff that visitors may get ripped off on. The key to making friends with the locals is to know what kind of relationships you’re looking for. There’s private and public ways to connect with locals, and what you choose depends on the kind of person you are.
Next time I travel, I’m going to make an effort to start a relationship with someone wherever I go. If I’m on the beach, I’ll chat up the sunbather next to me. If I’m at a bar, I’ll strike up a conversation with the group beside me. Hopefully my travel wishlist will lead to some interesting conversations, if not helpful traveling tips.
Another option for those who are more introverted is to use some alternatives to host home sites where you can stay in someone’s home for a discounted rate. You can enjoy getting to know the people you’re living with for your short stay and more easily have a conversation starter or something in common. Plus you’ll get to save money, so I’ll definitely be checking this off of my travel wishlist soon!
One time an old friend told me that the best thing I could do when I get somewhere new is to get lost in the main part of the city, and I have to agree! Choose to go through your days in a laid back way. It’s one of the best ways you can experience local culture while traveling. Take your time in coffee shops and markets and stores. You’ll find a second to breathe and really take in where you are.
Maybe for some trips you want to have those stereotypical tourist pictures taken in front of famous monuments and buildings. That’s great, but why not make memories that no one else has? That thought is what’s driving me to really step outside my comfort zone and take my traveling to a new level. There are so many benefits to cultural immersion that I’m shocked that I haven’t tried it sooner! I’ll get to know a new culture and people on a personal level, and that’s sure to change my perspective on things.
There’s very little to traveling that I thought I hadn’t done. I’ve been flying and driving around the world for so many years that I thought there was little I could do to make my trips better. I’m challenging myself to get to know the locals wherever I travel to and really immerse myself in their culture. Ultimately, I know my travel wishlist will help me become a better person with a better perspective of the world and all that is good in it.