Traveling is one of the most subjective hobbies to have. People experience traveling in so many different ways that often what makes a vacation fabulous for one person could be a complete deal-breaker for another. Some people like to unwind and relax in a beautiful setting while being waited on hand and foot while other travelers try to see as much as they can as a native and immerse themselves in the culture of a new area. There is no right or wrong way; a vacation should be enjoyed in the manner that you would like. But, if you’ve ever come home from a trip and felt as though you should have done more (or less,) this article is for you! Read on to find new ways that you can experience your next destination!
1. Stay in One Place
Tours that take you through a new city every day are all the rage right now, but there’s a lot of downsides to these “land cruises.” Not only are you on the go entirely too frequently, but you never quite get to absorb the vibe of any one spot. Instead of taking a trip that tours from city to city, do your research and stay in one area that really lights your fire and get to know it intimately during your stay.
2. Put Down the Camera
In this time of selfie sticks and Instagram, people want photographic proof of every step they take on vacation. While this is a nice way to remember your trip once you’re home, it’s not a great way to actually enjoy your trip while you’re still on it! Put the cameras down and take in the moments without ruining them with a camera flash. If you are afraid you’ll forget all of the beauty, document your travels in a diary so your memories stay fresh without ruining the actual memory.
3. Or Pick up the Camera
There only seems to be two camps with travelers: those with cameras always in hand and those who forget what a camera even is while they’re on vacation. I’m terrible at snapping pictures for future memories and I always kick myself when I get home for not taking the 2 seconds to snap a candid shot. To get the pictures that mean the most, skip the usual touristy photos and try to take detail oriented photos or pictures with heart, like your children laughing with each other at dinner or a picture of something that made you laugh. Be discerning with what you choose to capture and you’ll have pictures that are meaningful and not just Instagram wallpaper.
4. Learn something new
There is nothing better than going on vacation and coming back with a new skill to show off to your friends and family. I once took a cooking class in Naples and the dishes I learned are all-time favorites for guests. And every time I get to use my newly-learned skills, I’m reminded of my wonderful time there. Think outside of the box and get creative. You could go to NYC and take a parkour class in Central Park, or take a painting class in the Alps with the beautiful mountains as your inspiration. Learn the bagpipes while in Scotland or try a Kung-Fu class if you’re visiting Tokyo.
5. Stay local
You’ll always get a more authentic traveling experience if you give your business to the small boutique shops, hotels and restaurants instead of the big name chains. Step outside of your comfort zone while you’re on vacation and you’ll often be pleasantly surprised!
6. Support Local
A new way to experience a city is to see it as a native. Talk to the people who live there and ask them where they eat and shop. You’ll experience the city through a whole new light than if you had just stuck to the main tourist spots. You’ll also be putting money in the pockets of real people in that city and not just in a corporation’s business account.
7. Explore the rural areas of a country
I believe you haven’t truly lived until you’ve wandered aimlessly (sometimes lost) through a new country. It’s great to see the big cities, but there’s often more beauty in the surrounding areas that you may be missing. Take a drive out to the less-visited spots and you may be surprised to find that there is just as much to see and do out there as there is in the cities!
8. Don’t plan anything
I’ve always wanted to take a completely spontaneous trip, but my Type-A personality always gets the best of me. But, if you are a true adventurer, you must experience a new place this way (and report back here with how it turned out!) Take a map and some money, hop on a plane and don’t look back. See where life takes you when you land!