There is no doubt that traveling can be a fantastic experience—it allows you to explore unknown surroundings, meet new people, and learn more about the world at large. When planning your holiday, it can be tempting to sign on for a package tour that takes you to all the famous attractions or to follow the typical tourist route and have a check list of all the popular destinations. However, if you want to get the most out of your trip, it pays to think outside the box and choose a path that is off the beaten track. Here are six reasons why you should always take the scenic route.
Discover something different
Traveling off the beaten track allows you to discover amazing places that you would never come across if you stuck to the main tourist trail. For example, many travelers to Brazil spend their time enjoying the festivities of Rio de Janeiro and sunbathing on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. While these are definitely worth a visit, they hardly scratch the surface of the beautiful and diverse country. More adventurous travelers can meet incredible creatures such as the goliath bird-eating spider in the Amazon rainforest and witness breathtaking landscapes such as the Serra dos Órgãos. Getting away from the crowd will allow you to have a trip that is much more valuable than the typical tourist experience.
Take your own sweet time
Taking the road less traveled allows you to enjoy the sights and sounds of your holiday destination at your own rhythm. Instead of being rushed from one attraction to the next, you are free to wander around naturally and explore at a slow and leisurely pace. You do not have to wait in long queues at popular sightseeing spots or try to avoid the crowds by showing up at an ungodly hour. As you learn more about the place you are visiting, you can adjust your itinerary to get the most out of your trip. For instance, if you decide to take a scuba diving license in Bali, you then have the flexibility to spend your time exploring the underwater sights instead of going from one tourist attraction to another.
Move around like a local
While many mass-market tours and activities may feature certain elements of local culture, these are usually superficial and do not represent an authentic experience. The best-case scenario for intrepid travelers is to meet a local person who is willing to show you around their hometown. When you make friends with the locals, they will take you to their favorite places to eat as well as share information about their culture and heritage. Through their local insight, you will be able to explore special locations and experience unique activities that you otherwise would not have even known about. You can meet lifelong friends, make exceptional memories, and get a sense of the place outside of the tourist lens.
Make travel affordable
One of the biggest obstacles to traveling is the costs involved. You can save much of your travel budget by staying away from tourist traps. There are plenty of other interesting places to explore off the beaten path that are free or can be visited for a minimal fee. Since you are far away from the commercial tourist areas, the food and accommodation in these places are usually much more affordable. In Vietnam, instead of taking expensive private van tours to famous sites, you can rent a motorcycle which costs a fraction of the price. Eating at local eateries is also much cheaper than eating at fancy restaurants designed for foreigners. Besides, these places usually provide a more authentic experience.
Do your part for the environment
Despite our best efforts, travelers have an environmental impact. By reducing the scale of your consumption and living in an environment that is closer to the local culture, you can reduce the negative effects on your surroundings. Being a more adventurous traveler will also give you the chance to get up close and personal with endangered and iconic species such as the Amazon river dolphin or the Bengal tiger in their natural habitats. In addition, giving back to the local community is an important part of responsible tourism. As an independent traveler, you can choose to support the enterprises that directly benefit local communities such as community park rangers or family homestays.
Learn something new about yourself
One of the main benefits of being an atypical tourist is that it can help you grow as a person. Instead of relying on tour guides and air-conditioned buses, you can step outside your comfort zone and have full control of your own exploration experience. You will encounter various cultures and ways of life that will undoubtedly change the way you think about the world and yourself. You will encounter challenges and must make quick decisions as plans change. As you overcome these obstacles, you will acquire important perspectives and become confident and resourceful. These are essential skills that will help you in every aspect of your life.
Travel is something we all look forward to. That said, taking a trip is more than just getting away from your current life. If you allow it, travel can be a life-changing experience that expands your horizons and defines who you are as a person.
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