Every destination has hidden delights and unexpected treasures that are easy to miss if one pre-programs every minute. Although it’s always wise, not to mention fun, to do some initial research before setting out for a new destination, it is often a mistake to plan so many activities that spontaneity is impossible. From quirky small museums to early morning walks and purely local eateries, try to seek out the unusual attractions that can become highlights of the trip. Concentrate on memory-making rather than simply chalking off bucket list destinations.
Here’s how to make every trip a new adventure:
Talk to Local People
Ask for suggestions of places to go and things to do from local resident and workers: Cabbies, hotel clerks, shopkeepers and diners at a nearby restaurant table are usually more than willing to offer ideas. Rather than booking a managed bus tour of a new city, arm yourself with a route map and schedule and explore via local buses. Arrange a two or three-hour excursion with a cab driver, at a specified fee, to gain an overview of a city’s various attractions. It works as well in Malmo as it does in Miami or Milwaukee!
Get Off the Main Streets
Do some initial research to assure basic safety, but then head out on your own to explore. Although it’s sometimes easier with companions, TV Host Samantha Brown advocates getting off the beaten paths. She connects with people from various walks of life — to hear their stories and see the world in a new light — and everyone can do the same. That doesn’t mean that a traveler should forego the monuments and museums; but it does mean that there’s much more to learn from travel than simply visiting those attractions that charge admission.
Analyze Your Reasons
There are myriad reasons to plan a break from normal routine; and there are just as many ways to enjoy that getaway. Whether you choose an active sports vacation, a theme park, a lively urban destination or a simple cabin in the woods to create a fire to cook over, it is entirely up to you, and there is no “one size fits all” vacation. Even families traveling with children should try to find a balance between on-the-go excitement and more relaxed fun. However, once the basic parameters are set, it’s still possible to leave time for last-minute changes. On a road trip, for instance, pack a picnic lunch and stop by a stream for a laid-back meal rather than heading for the drive-through lane of a fast food freeway diner!
Reconnect and Adjust Expectations
In today’s fast-paced, connected world, there is often little personal connection between friends and family members. Vacation travel offers an opportunity to reconnect on a different level, and it can be transformative. Time spent canoeing or camping on a placid lake which is often better than achieving the next skill level on the latest video game — even for a 14-year-old. And mountain music played by a put-together band in a small-town park can resonate just as emotionally as a sold-out concert in the city. It just takes a little imagination, and perhaps a bit of luck, to find the events that become lasting memories. Rather than spending a day shopping for souvenirs, why not take the time to walk the beach at sunset, go for a hike to photograph the flowers, or volunteer your time at a community garden or local shelter?
Those are the sorts of memories that make travel extraordinary!