HOW TO HAVE A TRULY MEANINGFUL TRIP
These days, traveling is easier than ever before. With the world increasingly more connected, there’s no excuse not to get out there and see the world!
Beyond peeling back the curtain on a new place and having new and exciting experiences, one of the biggest benefits of travel is the new cultural awareness you’ll gain. If you’re looking for an eye-opening experience, there are plenty of types of trips that will broaden your horizons. After all, why just take a trip when you can travel deeper?
1 |GO ON A VOLUNTEER TRIP
If you like the idea of giving back to the local community in your destination, a volunteer trip is a fantastic option. Imagine yourself teaching English in an after-school program in Thailand, volunteering at a children’s hospital in South Africa, helping to fight poverty in India or working with horses on a ranch in Canada. There are so many possibilities, and if you can dream it, you can make it happen!
With a volunteer trip, you’ll likely have a basic minimum of volunteer time that you’ll need to complete, but you can (and should!) stay longer to explore and visit different cities in your destination country.
If you’ve chosen a place where they speak a language different from your own, you can always take a little language course in conjunction with your volunteer experience, to make your time that much more enriching as you’ll be able to communicate with the locals.
2 | LEARN SOMETHING NEW ON YOUR TRIP!
Have you always wanted to try yoga? Or surfing? Or cooking? Or playing the guitar? Why not combine two passions and take the opportunity of traveling to take up a new hobby?
This is the perfect way to dig deep into the culture and experience a place beyond the typical tourist track. Sign up for scuba diving lessons in Mexico, try a cooking course in Tuscany, learn to surf in Australia, discover the art of wine tasting in France or try your hand at filmmaking in Los Angeles… the options are endless!
And don’t forget to learn the basic Italian hand gestures before heading to the “Bel paese”. I can help you with that! Check out my very visual article where I show you the top Italian gestures you should master to communicate with the locals!
Besides being able to tick something off your bucket list, you’ll also be able to meet both locals and other foreigners who share your interests. Meeting new people and fellow travelers, is often one of the most enriching parts of travel, so taking a trip to learn something new is doubly rewarding! I even wrote an article of my personal experiences on how traveling can change your approach to people. Truly enlightening.
3 | SIGN UP FOR A LANGUAGE COURSE ABROAD
There’s no better way to explore a new culture than by speaking the language of the locals. It’s the difference between seeing a place in black and white and seeing it in color! Regardless of if you have zero experience with a language, learning in total immersion is the guaranteed fastest way to improve.
Language schools are often also great places to meet people who’ll become your new travel buddies. Schools often also organize activities and events designed to introduce you to the culture of your destination country: think museum outings, cinema nights, pub crawls, secret walking tours and even conversation exchanges with native speakers from the area so you can practice the language and meet people.
When you speak the language, doors open to you. You’ll be able to chitchat with the locals about the best places to eat and their favorite spots in the city and start to forge authentic friendships that would be impossible without a common language.
If conventional language classes haven’t worked for you before, try learning the language in total immersion and you’ll be astounded by the results.
4 | DO A CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP
This is the perfect type of trip for the traveler who loves to get off the beaten path. There’s something undeniably romantic about the idea of a road trip, and it’s even more exciting when you think about one in a foreign country!
Road trips are great because you can make a rough plan of where to go and when, and then adapt it according to what you discover along the way. It’s also a great opportunity to save money on accommodation by camping, staying at backpackers’ hostels or sleeping in small towns where prices are much lower than in the big cities.
When writing the article on my Italy Road Trip, I also mention more than once that a road trip is all about being spontaneous and letting the road be your guide.
If you don’t have a specific dream destination in mind, you could try one of the world’s most famous road trips like Route 66 or the Ocean Highway in the USA, the Ring Road in Iceland, the Amalfi Coast road in Italy (another article coming soon on this blog!), Route 62 in South Africa or Austria’s High Alpine Road. The joy is in the journey, so let yourself get lost and enjoy the scenery!
5 |DESIGN A TRIP BASED ON INTERACTING WITH THE LOCALS
There’s no better guide to a city than someone who was born and raised there. That being said, it’s not always the easiest task in the world to meet the locals, especially if you are a reserved / shy person. Luckily, there are plenty of websites around that can help you in connecting with authentic residents in your destination.
One of the first of its kind, Couchsurfing is a platform that matches travelers with local residents who are willing to let you stay on their couch (or in their spare bedroom, on a mattress on the floor, etc.) for free!
The people who sign up on Couchsurfing tend to be open-minded world travelers or at least aspiring travelers!
Another option on the table is, of course, Airbnb, with a special emphasis on the company’s latest venture, Airbnb Experiences. Sign up for an experience with a local including a huge variety of activities like food tours, cooking lessons, trail rides on horseback, winery visits, arts and crafts workshops and anything else you could possibly imagine.
Last but not least, a great way to find new local people and interact with them is Meetup, which is full of free events you can sign up for. Make friendships, meet like-minded locals and share your interests in a relaxed and authentic environment!
These are just five ideas out of many kinds of trips that will broaden your horizons, but if you’re planning on taking a trip, it’s almost impossible not to have an eye-opening experience! Do you have any other suggestion? Leave me a comment with your meaningful travel experiences!
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