As hassle-free international travel becomes a viable option once more, we can all begin to look forward to a great vacation in an exotic destination. Whatever that means to you. For the vast majority, there is nothing better than relaxing on a beach in the sun. But for others, this is a terrible waste of time.
You may be of the more adventurous persuasion. If you are, you can take your holiday to the next level by making the most of your time and what the place offers.
Do Something Extreme
While you might not be the most adventurous person when it comes to the riskier side of having fun, you could try something a little different. Extreme means different things to different people, and it doesn’t necessarily include dangerous sports. Instead, it might be worth exploring something you wouldn’t usually do. Such things as trying a new way to travel, confronting a phobia or indulging in a local delicacy made from some such ingredients are typically repulsive to you.
For all the delights of any country and foreign lands, there is always something there to surprise others and yourself. Extreme adventure means putting yourself out there. For example, the hot air balloons of Cappadocia in Turkey are legendary as they transport you across ancient valleys and forgotten sites. You never know. You might just discover a new hobby you never thought possible that keeps you coming back for more.
Find Hidden Treasures
Of course, one of the best things about venturing to a new land is discovering wondrous sights not available anywhere else in the world. Obviously, you will visit sites such as the pyramids of Giza, Paris’s Eiffel Tower and Urularu in the Australian outback. And as impressive as these places are, you have seen them before, and they are well known. In addition, every avid explorer will go out of their way to find unique and promising locations of which many tourists are unaware.
And this doesn’t necessarily apply to geological formations or ancient temples. Hidden treasures are everywhere, and some of the best are in plain sight. Take Osaka’s Hozenji Yokocho alley, for example. This small warren retains Edo-era architecture and hosts multiple cafe’s, restaurants and bars in an 80-meter stretch, with no tourists in sight. Places like this are found in every city but are hard to come by. Local research and consulting professional guides are advised.
Learn as Much History as Possible
Speaking of local research and guide consultancy, it is helpful to learn as much as possible about a location before you visit. This not only helps you feel a little less daunted when you arrive, but the sense of already knowing a pace beforehand aids greatly when travelling. At the very least, you are less likely to get lost. But the best thing about learning local history is that you will feel an immediate connection to the place and the people if you understand them better.
There is no harm in visiting somewhere without knowing the history. Still, it can help when visiting specific types of destinations. Take cities, for example. Every city in the world has a fascinating history, with countless stories to tell. Romance, horror and innovation are among the best things about cities like Edinburgh in Scotland or Venice, Italy. There’s also nothing quite like imparting some wisdom to your children when exploring a historical site such as the Parthenon in Greece.
Ask About the Best Walking Trails
Walking is a trendy hobby, and trekking holidays are on the rise. One survey by UK tour operator Jules Verne found that 28% of Brits plan their destination around the quality of the walking trails that might be available. Of course, the case can be made for getting around a city like New York in a big yellow taxi. However, pedestrian tourism allows you to take in more of your surroundings and absorb the atmosphere much better, no matter where you are.
Cities are amazing for seeing the most touristy of attractions. Yet getting out there into the wilderness of a particular country lets you see the natural beauty of a place. For example, you might spend some time talking about Lima, Peru’s sounds, smells, and hospitality. But you will miss a golden opportunity if you don’t spend some time with your family in the foothills and walking trails of the Rainbow Mountains. One of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Seek Out the Local Cuisine
If most of us are honest with ourselves, we travel to parts unknown for the food. Can you think of anything better than sampling strange new delights that make your mouth come alive? Of course, no one suggests you do an Anthony Bourdain and eat some very questionable things like spiders and whole birds. Then again, that might be your thing. But wherever you visit, you must take the time to seek out some of the best food available.
This might sound simple, but it can be tricky. To extract some sage advice from the wonderful and wise Rick Stein, don’t go to the trendy restaurants on the local high street. In many countries, local cuisine is changed to suit the tourists’ palate. Essentially, when eating in these places, you won’t get a real taste of what they have to offer. Instead, go off the beaten track a little and always look for the packed places with the locals in attendance.
Don’t Be a Stranger
While we’re on the subject of the locals, don’t be afraid to speak to people. This doesn’t mean annoying everyone that happens past you. But there is no harm in striking a conversation in a local bar or while browsing a marketplace. In most places, local citizens welcome tourists and are more than happy to meet you. Additionally, getting to know some of the locals is a great way to find out some of the stuff listed above and can save you precious time.
For example, the people who live in a particular area might point out their favourite places to eat where you can get some of the best food around. It’s also possible that they will let you know about some of the best nature trails hidden gems. However, many locals don’t like to point out too many of these to tourists. Some may fear attracting too many visitors and becoming vandalized, destroyed or worse – commercialized.