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4 Secrets to a Deeper Travel Experience

Secrets to a Deeper Travel Experience

We’ve all visited somewhere we thought was just perfect. Every detail seemed picturesque and dreamy, and we caught ourselves saying we never wanted to go home. Imperfections are easily overlooked and those that we catch can appear curious, interesting or even downright sweet. We’ve also all had the opposite, the nightmare trip that couldn’t end fast enough. Both of these scenarios only skim the surface, though.

To simplify a place, its culture and inhabitants means you only begin to know it. The trick is to get beyond first impressions and superficial observations to have a deeper understanding of, not only your destination with all it has to offer, but life, the planet, its community members, and our resources.

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The simple version is easy to idealize. Seeing more requires changing travel habits which, in turn, change perspectives. Often these changes take us off the well-worn travel path, giving us a more-complete view of the place we’re exploring.

1. Open up

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When you arrive somewhere new, awe is natural. Soak it up. Enjoy. And in opening to this new place, like a plant sucking up groundwater, allow yourself to absorb it. Go where it leads you. Don’t fear the spontaneous and be slow to judge.

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We all have notions of how people live in other places, but this “idea” of a place or its people may hinder your ability to see the big picture. By trying new things and withholding judgment, we have the opportunity to not only have a brand new experience, but ultimately change habits that can limit our travel experience and perspective.

2. Observe and allow complexity

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The “Noble Savage”, a term used to idealize indigenous peoples in Romantic literature, represented the innate goodness of being uncivilized in it’s effects on humanity and the planet. Yet we know this stereotype to be contradictory, that, for example, the Anasazi deforested the American southwest and many indigenous tribes are violent. This is not to say they’re bad; it just shows the complexity that is true of the situation. Yes, in many ways Native Americans are more peaceful and have more integral environmental practices, but that’s not unequivocal.

So, pay attention. Look around you and take in the moment before you try to process it. See what’s happening without placing labels, and recognize the complexity through genuine observation.

3. Don’t compare it to where you came from

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Comparing your new travel destination to home is as effortless as eating your favorite dessert. The whole reason we travel is to do something different, and yet we can’t help but hold up a yard stick to compare the new to whatever is already familiar.

Try forgetting what you know. When comparisons come up, don’t acknowledge them. Let them dissipate, so you can see the experience independent of the context you carry with you (i.e. your past experiences.) Like a child experiencing things for the first time, allow your experiences to be unique, without labels or pre-set ideas of “should” or “shouldn’t”.

4. Change perspective

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Okay, so you’ve tried something different and perhaps encountered something surprising. Each little surprise is informing you about the world and the wide variety of traditions and customs our sweet planet has to offer. It also shows us the hardships many people have to overcome on a daily basis. Increasing our awareness of the beauty and challenges of life in other places changes our perspective, teaching us to see the world from an altered vantage point, one that is more in tune with the planet and the people on it.


What travel experiences have shaped your perspectives? How can you get a deeper travel experience? Please share your thoughts and comments below!

1 Comment
  • Steve
    Posted at 16:37h, 28 July Reply

    A great post, and so, so true. Not enough of ‘our’ sort of travelers out there, and I feel for them.

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