As tourism has exploded in popularity, there are now more opportunities to travel than ever before. With this explosion of options comes an increase in diversity in where you can go and what type of experiences you can have while traveling.
For example, instead of going onto a busy beach for some sun-baking or taking a bus tour that only looks at sites along a heavily trafficked route, you can choose to explore somewhere new with limited to no tourist infrastructure.
Or if you’re looking to really get into something, you can find yourself struggling to translate Roman inscriptions due to language barriers. Or perhaps you want to see how other cultures celebrate their holidays.
All of these things contribute to what we call ‘immersion’. This is when you feel like you lose track of time because you’re so involved in the experience as it happens directly around you. It could be through speaking the local languages, exploring parts of the country you weren’t aware existed, or just spending time with people who live there.
Immersion can mean learning about the culture, experiencing its customs, and/or meeting members of the community. Sometimes it means staying in budget, other times not.
There’s a growing movement called slow travel, which is essentially traveling to locations with one of two things in mind: immersion into local culture and experiences, and spending time reading about the history and geography of the area.
By staying in budget-friendly accommodations, eating food from the region, and exploring at your own pace, you’ll enjoy the destination much more than if you were trying to do too many things during your stay.
It will also give you the opportunity to focus on other parts of your life – like work or family back home– while showing some love for the place you’re in!
Conversely, fast travelers may miss out on important pieces of the experience because they don’t have enough time to sit down and really look around.
A slow traveler can take their time to explore new areas, read up on how places relate to each other, and appreciate the beauty that we tend to take for granted in our daily lives. It’s an excellent way to reawaken those senses.
See the sights
A significant part of traveling is to see the sites that the country was founded in, or that are important to its culture. These can be monuments, museums, landscapes, or anything else that catches your eye!
Many tourists stay focused on their schedule, rushing from one site to the next, but you should try to add some immensity to your experiences by adding some time between each new sight.
Take your time to admire the scenery, study an art piece, or listen for changes in music as you meander through the area. Take advantage of being outside and active so you do not have to worry about leaving someone behind while you move at a leisurely pace.
Do not feel like you need to see everything, there will be enough things to look at when you return home. If something seems particularly interesting, go check it out later when you have more free time.
Do things yourself
One of the biggest reasons why people stay at home is because they feel like they do not have access to the experiences that matter to them. They do not want to spend their money going out because there are no good shows or museums in their area, so they remain indoors.
If you really wanted to see The Lion King once it closes down forever, you can go see it! You will need to book ahead but it is totally possible. It is not difficult to enjoy art and culture if you do not feel like you are being left behind due to your budget or location.
There are many ways to enjoy immersive cultural experiences for less than $100 per person. For example, most major cities offer free museum visits during certain hours. Many museums also allow you to read the article or watch a movie before entering, which cuts down on costs slightly. By visiting during off-hours, you get more for your money.
Many universities run semester-long study tours where students travel with a group and are able to explore the city together. These are very cost effective since the organization covers meals, lodging, and transport. If you are interested in exploring another country’s cultures, this is an excellent way to do so.
Travel with a group
As mentioned before, traveling alone can be expensive and sometimes uncomfortable. There are many ways to meet new people while exploring the globe. Grouping up is an excellent way to do this as you’re likely to make friends along the way!
By joining a tour or doing some research ahead of time, you will have more choice in which places you want to visit and what experiences you would like to have. This allows you to pick and choose your destination and timing slightly better, giving yourself more freedom.
You may also find there are additional benefits to meeting other travelers – for example, sharing resources and knowledge or having someone watch their kids for a few days while they explore somewhere else. Either way, it’s a win-win situation!
There are several types of groups that you can join on a trip. You can take organized tours where all the logistics are done for you, private tours where only certain numbers of people are included, small group tours where just a couple of people get matched together, and free tourism programs such as Visit Europe Free and Explore America For Zero Dollars.
These last two offer almost unlimited access, so even if you don’t have much money left after paying for flights and accommodation, you aren’t limited to just the sites you wanted to see.
Try new foods
One of the things that makes traveling to a new place special is trying the food! Food in America tends to be very similar, so eating what they call “American cuisine” can get pretty boring.
In some parts of Europe, however, people know how to cook delicious dishes using fresh ingredients. The best way to find out about other countries’ culinary styles is by trying their food!
When you travel, do not only stay within your budget, but also spend money on good experiences. Take time to explore where your stomach takes you for lunch or dinner.
You may discover that local restaurants are much more expensive than ones back home, but they are still great quality.
Try different recipes made with familiar staples like tomatoes, bread, and cheese! If there is none of these, then look for something else that can help make up for it!
There are many ways to learn how to prepare foreign food. YouTube is a helpful resource since you can watch tutorials and/or use closed captioning to understand what languages they are spoken in.
A significant part of staying in-the-moment while traveling is giving yourself frequent, regular breaks. You can do this at any time — not just during your stay but also when you return home.
A good break can be for one hour or even one day depending on what types of experiences you’ve got planned next. Some things that count as a break include taking a short walk outside, doing some work ahead of schedule, having a cup of tea or coffee, reading an article online, talking to someone back home, or simply resting before moving onto the next thing.
Weekends are great because there’s less pressure than during the week so you can really unwind and enjoy yourself. If possible, always choose a place with adequate wifi so you don’t have to worry about being disconnected!
There’s no rule saying you need to take a break after every big trip goal, but it makes sense to do it whenever you can. On your next vacation, try leaving more time between tasks to make sure everything gets finished.
A significant part of slow travel is enjoying the experiences you have throughout your travels. You will spend more time in transportation than doing things like going to museums or attending events, but that’s okay!
Instead of rushing around trying to see as much as you can, relax and focus on just experiencing what you are outside of a regular rhythm. Visit local monuments, take pictures, study how people live in the area, eat where everyone else eats.
Enjoy getting into an Uber and exploring new neighborhoods, or taking the bus instead of the train when you are traveling longer distances.
There are so many ways to enjoy yourself while travelling, it does not matter which country you are in. Try giving yourself some permission to be less busy and focused on keeping up with lots of things, and then do those things if you want to!
Traveling takes time, and you should give yourself enough time to really experience what you want from your trip. Make sure you leave enough time for relaxation, reflection, and fun activities. We all have different needs depending on our personal lives at home at the moment, so try asking yourself what your needs are and making time for them.
There’s no need to hit the road immediately after New Year’s, especially if you’re in your twenties or early thirties. In fact, some people feel that traveling is what made them leave home in the first place!
If you really want to travel quickly, then do so for one month only. If you have planned a trip lasting more than a couple of weeks, consider breaking it up into two months to make it more affordable.
You can also try staying in one location for several months. This way, you’ll get to know the area better and be able to experience all its culture and attractions at a slower pace.
There are many ways to spend time efficiently while exploring cultures around the world. By thinking about how you plan to connect from A to B, you will help ensure you don’t waste too much time. For example, taking the bus instead of the train may save you an hour because there’s less waiting involved.
And remember, even if you don’t speak the local language, you can still find lots of information online or through smartphone apps.