Immersive travel is HOT. What is it you might think? Well, it is the act of surrounding yourself with the culture of a place. Sometimes this might mean living with a family and helping out on their farm, or simply sharing a meal with a local. It is a unique experience that more often than not opens doors to a deeper understanding of an unfamiliar place. You’re never going to know a place as intimately as the people living there, but by immersing in the local culture, you can begin to understand it all a little better.
Over the years, travelers are increasingly seeking more of these authentic, immersive experiences in new places. Joining a monk for a few days, or a 6 month homestay in Cortegana, Huelva or a local farm stay with a group of inspiring travelers. Whatever the destination, every seasoned traveler recognizes that often the most memorable experiences are the encounters with local people and immersing into the local culture. So, if you are done with the standard travel, ticking the box and are up for a new adventure then this article is for you. Here are 9 things you should avoid when you are looking for an enriching, authentic and deeper travel experience.
# 1 : Expecting everything to go according to plan
Seasoned traveler or not, things are always bound to go wrong on the journey to wonderland. Trains break down, flights are delayed, home-stays don’t go according plan, and sometimes food poisoning takes the best of you, putting you out of action, just as you had some life – affirming adventure planned.
The key is to accept the setbacks as a natural part of your trip. Expecting everything to run smoothly is to set foot on the road to disappointment and a sure-fire way to ruin your trip.
By all means have a notion of where you’d like your day to end up, but when every inquiry leads to a dead end and every plan comes crashing down, don’t let it get to you. Just revel in the unexpected, and enjoy the ride, because in the end, it actually works out.
# 2 : Choosing places over people
Experiencing a different culture from the one you are normally used to and being part of something bigger than yourself, really puts the kick in travel. However time and time again, I’ve seen travelers choose places over people and miss out on forming deep and meaningful relationships.
When given the option, choose to engage with people instead of venturing off on your own, even if that means passing on a famous destination. When not given an option, figure out ways to create options and thank me later. 🙂 This is at the core of immersive travel.
#3 : Failing to respect the local culture
When we set off on our travels we can get so caught up in the excitement of things that we can often forget that we are embarking on not only a trip of a lifetime, but a complete culture shock. Cultural norms within the world’s largest continent differ from what you might be used to in the west.
Cover your head when you’re in temples or other places of worships. Also dress modestly; covering shoulders and legs is advisable, as well as your tattoos. Eat local food. Part of travelling is immersing yourself in the new, even if its not be what you’re used to, it’s always polite to try the local food. Have a look at the great app of Culturemee that helps you prepare what to expect when traveling to a place.
#4 : Being POUND foolish and PENNY wise
As they say, time is money and, since travelers tend to have more time than money, they save money at the expense of time.
However, your time is worth something. It may save you $2 by walking instead of taking the bus, but if it takes you an extra hour to get to where you are going, is that really worth it? You may be able to save $30 by taking a flight with two connections, but is the savings worth it when you know you’re going to be miserable and arrive tired? Budget travel is not a race to the bottom. It’s about being smart with both your money and time.
Avoid wasting time as much as you avoid wasting money.
#5 : Closing your mind
Immersive travel requires that we explore ourselves even as we explore the world. When we choose not to open our mind to the beauty around us out of our comfort zones we begin to recognize that our perspective defines our experience, our participation matters, and by setting intention, being mindful, reflecting, and applying the benefits back home, your travel experience will be nothing short of magical, and worth every ride.
#6 : Choosing the things in the guide book
For some it requires more guts than for others, but if you would like to have a truly authentic travel experience then avoid choosing things in a guide book.
A guide book is used by many travelers so then the chance of running into many travelers will be high. One of the biggest disadvantages of travel guide books is that by their very nature they define ‘the beaten tourist track’.
If every traveler uses a guide book with similar information then everyone will go to the same places, which is what you are avoiding in the first place, especially if you are on a solo travel, looking for that unique travel experience
#7: Planing too much
When we plan too much, and we’re focusing on adhering to the schedule, we don’t store as much about what’s happening around us.
Simply put, when it comes to memory and travel, it’s often more about quality than quantity. So, when we go into a journey with an open mind about what might happen and aren’t stressed about getting from one thing to the next, it slows things down and allows us to enjoy the moment more.
It is much better to adopt a spontaneous approach as you travel.
#8: Booking via a travel agent
Don’t book via a traditional travel agent or book a room in a hotel. Instead opt for sites that will save you serious money and place you in the company of locals such as Couchsurfing, I Like Local . Eat with locals and go to the restaurants that are packed with locals or use a platform like traveling spoon.
#9: Hire a driver with a private car
If you are a bit adventurous avoid hiring a private car, but take public transportation instead. This experience, will not only enrich your travel experience more, but it will give you an appreciation of the local culture, and who knows you may meet some amazing people on your bus rides, who end up changing your life for the ultimate best.
Did we capture all of the things you should avoid when looking for an immersing travel journey? What are some of your own tips? We would like to hear them in the comments below.