What you will Learn
- The contrast between mass tourism and experiential travel
- Understand if experiential travel is for you or not
- How to find your own way, regardless of labels and buzzwords
As we’ve seen in the previous article, experiential travel is a way of exploring the world that has always been around, but it’s been receiving more press lately – millennials have made it fashionable and trendy. It’s a more participatory approach to exploring a country, and it’s culture while seeking authentic experiences.
If the initial descriptions you’ve seen about experiential travel don’t appeal to you, it is still worth exploring what travel style is uniquely yours. You may be confident that you already know, but regardless your age or travel experience – and in the spirit of exploration – I invite you to challenge your assumptions. You may be pleasantly surprised.
The Comfort of Mass Tourism
Mass tourism is a way to provide a comfortable, sheltered experience of a new place and culture. For some, leaving their town is uncomfortable enough and don’t want to deal with any other stressors. However, many have unfounded fears of what is different and give up amazing life experiences without realizing it.
Life is about experience – At home or abroad
Thank about your life at home. What are your best memories about? I bet it had to do with experiences shared with people – a close friend or family member – and not just snapping pictures of pretty buildings.
It could be about the time when you first met your best friend, the great chemistry that sparked your friendship and the joyful time spent together. It could be about a time when you were young, and you discovered an abandoned, overgrown train track in the forest near your house. There, with your classmates, you pretended to be Indiana Jones.
These memories have no expiration date. The events you recall so fondly might have happened when you were 7 or 17, yet they are still sharp. When you think of them, happiness fills you. You remember them, even after decades because of the emotional intensity which left and anchor, firmly lodged in your mind. Life is about collecting experiences like these.
Imagine creating the same kind of memories of a new country where – because it’s a new country that you don’t know well – you can find the exhilaration of discovering something for the first time. If you approach meeting strangers – who look, sound and act different – with an open mind, you might just find that where it really matters, you are both the same. It’s these common grounds that are the foundation for friendships, and you can create the same deep connections with these foreign strangers as you made with your closest childhood friends.
Your newfound friends can take you into their lives, open doors that are not known (let alone open) to the average tourist. This will add a new dimension to your travel experience that will, I guarantee you, make any visit to a museum or guided group tour pale in comparison.
Forget the label, find your own way
Do the description you read about experiential travel not appeal to you? There is more than one definition, so ignore the labels and the hype. What is your travel style? That’s what matters. Maybe you are not a foodie and rather have McDonald’s, but want to explore your spirituality in Buddhist temples. Maybe it’s architecture or literature that interests you. Maybe you are introverted and would rather have long and deep one-on-one conversations instead of group activities.
You don’t need to go all out. You can stay in your usual hotel chain instead of going into a rustic Airbnb in the old part of town. You can choose in which aspect of your journey you decide to experiment with novelty and in which aspect of you choose to stay as comfortable a possible. You can start by taking baby steps or dive right in; there is no right or wrong. What other’s think doesn’t matter. They have their own journey (and that is what they should be concerned about), and you have yours.
Experiential travel is for you, as it is for everyone. Living – and learning – through experience is part of the human condition. Your travel style is yours and yours alone, talk to people, seek advice, do what feels right and follow your curiosity. You’ll find wonders.
If you are interested in learning about the people and culture of a country and how it can make your trip infinitely more rewarding, we’ll help you along the way with advice and tips, regardless of your personality and travel style. Sign up to our newsletter today.
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