We all seek authenticity in our friendships, conversations, food, beauty products, and life experiences. It is that quest for what is really real that often leads us to transcend the ordinary for extraordinary.
In travel, the same principles apply. While travel takes us to new cities or even new countries, it can also take us to new parts of ourselves. It would be hard to find a truly untouched place in our modern and increasingly connected world, but it is possible to create authentic travel experiences in the well-loved places we have been, or the new places we hope to discover!
If you have ever fallen victim to the dreaded tourist trap attraction, or returned home from a trip yearning for more, here are some tips on how to travel deeper.
- Get off the tour bus.
You’ll absorb more of the sights, sounds, smells and sensations of a city if you walk and use public transportation. You’ll encounter people engaged in the activities of daily life.
- Try to learn some practical language basics.
If you risk the struggle to make yourself understood, the rewards are innumerable! You’ll make a deeper connection when you engage with locals at markets, shops and cafes in their language, and earn their respect for your efforts along the way.
- Make a culinary discovery.
Many aspects of a culture are expressed in its food traditions. So, don’t just eat like a local, eat with a local; you’ll invariably eat better, cheaper, and more authentically. Find the neighborhood restaurant, order the daily dish and savor the flavors and the atmosphere!
- Choose your accommodations wisely.
Select a locally-operated hotel located close to a residential neighborhood. Yes, the cookie-cutter chain hotels offer many familiar amenities, but you would miss out on local hospitality and dÃ©cor. A final bonus — you’ll probably save money!
- Ask a local what she thinks.
As the old saying goes, “where you stand depends on where you sit.” Be sure to engage people in conversation; ask questions and listen to what is on their minds.
- Have some fun!
Whether it is cheering for the home town team at a cafÃ©, listening to live music or participating in a festival, you are certain to have a one-of-a-kind experience.
- Rethink shopping.
Experience itself is the best souvenir! Consider making purchases that prolong your memories — buying a rare ingredient you tasted on the trip, a CD of the “soundtrack” of your stay, or the map of the neighborhoods you discovered by serendipity.
- Make sure you are ready for an authentic travel experience.
Blogger Scott Gilbertson aptly wrote on the site Vagablogging, “When you shed your expectations, everything is off the beaten path.”
Remember it is about the journey, as well as the destination. Immersing yourself in a new landscape and slowing down the pace of your exploration leads to inspired encounters and rejuvenating, life-changing experiences.
What does authentic travel mean to you? Please share your own authentic travel story or advice below!
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