5 Ways to Experience the Benefits of Travelling Without Leaving Town
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Do you spend most of the year looking forward to that 2 week holiday you’ve booked in August? Or just daydreaming about what it would be like to waltz around the world, exploring the exotic destinations you see on TV?
Let’s start by exploring the reasons why many people like to travel:
To broaden your horizons. To provide some excitement and an escape from the hum drum of ‘ordinary’ life. To see the world beyond your four corners. To recharge your batteries. To challenge yourself. To meet interesting and like-minded people. To experience new cultures and lifestyles. To have some fun.
This advice comes from having spent the past 12 months travelling to and living in Panama, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Grenada, Dubai and now South Africa. Sounds like a dream lifestyle right? Yes in some respects you’d be right; but on the other hand it has its challenges.
What I have learned along the way however, is that many of the things we came looking for on our journey, we could have found right on our doorstep.
Here’s 5 ways you can experience the benefits of travelling without leaving town:
1. Start a new hobby.
Travelling helps us escape the hum drum of normal life. Starting a new hobby — something that you’re passionate about — has a similar effect. It helps you engage with other like-minded people, encourages you to learn a new skill and challenges you — depending upon the hobby — both physically and mentally.
The next step after reading this, is to find an activity you’re passionate about and pursue it. Even if it’s on your own, just get to it and try it.
2. Explore new cultures in your home town.
Many of us live in multi-cultural cities or towns. We don’t even have to leave our home town to experience a new culture.
There are a number of simple things you can try this week that will help you learn about other cultures around the world. These include:
Go out for a meal to sample a new cuisine you’ve never tried. Visit and shop at immigrant-owned stores, get chatting to the owners and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn. Make a point to make friends with foreigners and expats in your home town. As someone who has lived overseas several times in my life, it is one of the most rewarding experiences to be accepted by and make friends with locals in a strange place; you could be that ‘local’.
3. Be a ‘local’ tourist.
Unless you live in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, many of us live near several tourist attractions that we’ve never actually been to. Sure, whenever we have guests we’re happy to send them off on the tourist trail but often we’ve never actually done it ourselves. Make a list of all the (tourist) places in your area that you’ve always “meant to visit”, and go visit them!
4. Learn a language.
One of the joys (and challenges) of travel abroad is the opportunity to speak to locals in their own language and get a real sense of a place. Unfortunately language barriers often stand in our way.
In most towns and cities there are evening language classes you can attend and there is nothing to whet the appetite more for a place, than learning to speak the lingo. If classes aren’t an option, then try one of the popular self-paced learning courses.
5. Get interactive online.
Blogs, websites, forums — now more than ever, it is possible to find out about a place without even visiting it. It’s even possible to use Google Earth to travel to somewhere halfway across the world without leaving your living room.
Whilst this sort of voyeurism is no substitute for visiting a place and interacting directly with locals, the advent of global forums and the world wide web makes it even easier to connect with people all around the world and learn about their language, culture and country without leaving your home.
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