Travelling in today’s world can get quite hectic, messy and fast. However, to truly take in the experience of going to another country, we need to take a step back and see what it’s like to travel more slowly, purposefully and selectively for a much better travelling experience.
It has become quite popular to visit all of the famous and Instagram-worthy spots around the world. However, is that really an effective way to travel? By trying to see and visit too many places at once, you actually run the risk of seeing nothing in the end. One thing you will learn from travelling is that it’s better to travel well than to be well-travelled.
So, if you want to become a better traveller, try travelling selectively. Think about what places are interesting to you instead of travelling to certain places just because they are popular. Take your time to fully appreciate the places you visit. The longer you stay the more memories you are going to make. So, being selective about your destinations can help you experience more and take more from the journey with you. It’s a lot better to go on one amazing vacation that lasts longer every once in a while, than to go through more places in a shorter time and not really get to know them all that well.
That being said, you also need to make sure to take things slowly. If you want to be a better traveller, you need to travel slowly and take in the experience bit by bit. Find a new favourite restaurant in Amsterdam and see what it feels like to be a regular there for a while. Experience the city as if you actually lived there, not just like you’re passing by and rushing to get to the next destination. If you can, stick around that destination for a while and even develop a routine of your own. Slow travel is good travel. Take your time to see and explore the city. Maybe you end up finding something you would miss otherwise.
As a rule, you can estimate how long you will be staying in a certain place and then add about 20% of that time. It’s always better to have extra time on your hands. Maybe you end up falling in love with the city and wanting to stay longer. Who knows?
When travelling abroad, try to find a purpose for your trip. What exactly are you getting from this experience? How is this trip going to change you or affect your regular everyday life? Also, how can you affect your surroundings too? How can you leave the place you’re visiting in an even better state than when you found it? Think about what this trip brings to you and what you can bring to it in return.
Travelling with purpose can make you focus on certain aspects of the place you are visiting you would not normally pay that much attention to. Whether you want to volunteer overseas or you are going on a journey to find yourself through work, exchange programs or something else, travelling purposefully will always leave you with richer experiences and wonderful memories.
A huge part of travelling is interacting with locals, getting to know their culture, language, cuisine and history. This is the empathic side of travelling that makes this experience so wonderful and rich in great memories. But what does it mean to be an empathetic traveller? How can you travel empathetically?
Empathizing with people around you doesn’t mean fitting in or trying to become them. No matter where you go outside of your own country you will always be a foreigner and you will always travel as one. The point is not to blend in and lose your identity. You want to experience the culture as an outsider who is learning something new. You talk to the locals, ask them about the customs of their country and make sure to cherish and respect their culture. Also, as a foreigner you will be able to see their culture from a fresh angle and a different point of view.
One of the best ways to travel empathetically is to travel alone. There is something about solo travel that makes you more vulnerable and exposed to the locals’ culture and way of living. If you travel alone you are more likely to reach out to locals, start talking to them and make friends along the way. Just make sure to travel safely if you do opt for solo travel.
Lastly, no matter where you go, just try to have fun. You are meant to enjoy this experience and have some fun. It’s tough to find a fine line between not having high expectations and being prepared for anything, but once you do, you will find yourself travelling joyfully and more freely. Make sure to take in everything that you are experiencing through all of your senses and take your time. Make great memories, whether it is with your friends you are travelling with or the locals you meet along the way.
In conclusion, with today’s advanced technology and means of travel it’s become easy to travel fast and visit a lot of destinations in a short time. However, if you want to be a better traveller, you need to take your time and truly appreciate the places you are visiting. Travelling purposefully, empathetically and joyfully with an open mind towards other cultures will help you gain wonderful memories and maybe even some new friends.