10 Ways to Make Your Travel More Meaningful
Social media has transformed the travel industry and ushered FOMO (fear of missing out) into the public corridor of anxiety. Who hasn’t questioned their life choices after seeing an acquaintance’s snaps from a glamorous location?
When we travel, it’s difficult to not feel like you’re missing out or not making the most of the experience, and that anxiety is enough to cast a pall over your precious little vacation days. To help, here are some tips to have the most fulfilling, meaningful travel experience without breaking the bank or suffering a nervous breakdown.
10. Eat away From Monuments
Most of the time, establishments that enjoy the view of a major landmark just don’t try as hard. If you can see a famous monument from your table, your meal will be overpriced. Even if cost isn’t an issue, most of these locations are built on single visit customers unfamiliar with local standards of quality, so there is no incentive to use good ingredients or even make food to order. While this may vary based on region (it’s more of an issue in touristy spots than lowkey places), walking a bit further will usually be worth it.
9. Limit Your Creature Comforts
This is especially true for vacationers. Don’t use your two weeks of holiday trying to be comfortable all the time. The happiness you think that neck pillow or hamburger will provide provide is minimal. People tend to crave creature comforts when they are bored or restless, so grab some local snacks from the market and wander the town. You may think that not bringing those shoes or that top will ruin the trip, but it’s actually the anxiety of making those decision that ruins things.
8. Stop Trying to Find Yourself
Despite most pop culture narratives, people don’t change over the course of a week-long relaxer. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re doing something different, everything after that is going to be different. Seeking out tokened spirituality is a sure-fire way not to find it. Remember, your hangover or tan or quirky encounter with a monk probably aren’t going to be the makings of the next Eat, Pray, Love, no matter how much you force it.
7. Authenticity Can Be a Red Herring
Authenticity has become a dominant aesthetic in the travel/culture industry. People want their experiences to be genuine and sincere, but it’s easy to lose perspective. There are authentic experiences and places in your country that you’re probably not so keen on, and their foreign equivalents won’t be much more rewarding. The truth is, unless you have a lot of money and time to get off the beaten track, you’re going to get some artifice. Rather than seeking out authenticity, think about what you really want to get out of your vacation/travel and pursue it.
6. Accept That There Will Be Discomfort
Suffering is part of life, and no matter what you do for your vacation, there will be discomfort. Maybe your bags get lost, you don’t take to the food, or the weather makes you gross. Deal with it. There’s nothing you can pack or do preemptively that will make your experience totally perfect, so stop trying to control everything and make the most of your time.
5. Learn a Bit of Local Stuff (and Don’t Make a Big Deal of It)
No one expects you to become fluent in another language for a week of fun, but learning a bit of local culture can be enriching and endearing. Speaking a bit of a local language can make you seem humble and endear you to the local community. The positive effects of this are lost once you make a big show of it. Similarly, knowing a bit about local culture, especially taboos, can avoid unpleasant situations. Brushing up on your local history will also make the experience more rewarding, since it’s easier to forge connections with your surroundings.
4. Make Realistic Goals
You probably aren’t going to change your life or the world on your holiday, but you can come away from it feeling enriched and more relaxed. Be realistic about your expectations for your vacation. If you want to explore and see things that others miss, then plan beforehand. If you want to relax, then get it done. Just be honest with yourself. Half-measures are often unfulfilling.
3. Learn to Observe
Experienced budget travelers know that people-watching is a brilliant vacation pastime, but this is a tip for everybody. Learn to relax, watch, and enjoy what’s going on around you. It seems simple, but people forget to take everything in, especially on holiday. However, avoid drawing firm conclusions about what you see. Just because you saw one person tie his or her shoes a certain way doesn’t mean everybody on the island does that.
2. Polities Don’t Always Translate, But Body Language Usually Does
You’re a polite person, you appreciate how you’ve been treated, and you really want to express that. That’s great, but remember that different cultures have different expectations of politeness, and verbal polities often don’t translate. People don’t always understand, and dousing others in your customs can seem weird and overbearing. Body language, however, is easy to suss out, especially when it’s negative. Your anger, discomfort, or disdain will be easy to spot.
1. Don’t Exoticize or Fetishize
People tend to attach importance to things that are different or uncommon to them. Don’t let travel become a means of fetishizing things just because they’re different. An open-mind and a sense of humility are key, but overcompensating by holding things to a higher standard because they are different or quirky to you is just another form of ignorance and disrespect.
These tips may not ensure a perfect vacation, but they can help make the most out of a travel experience. Remember, this is something you’re doing for you, not for Instagram.