In case you don’t know, I’m on an epic trip right now. (Here’s a little background)
Travel is one of the best ways to expand your perceptions. Everywhere you go adds depth to your character. Exposure to new cultures and new places are priceless experiences.
I’ve been thinking about techniques I use to make the most out of my experiences, no matter where I am. So I came up with a list. They’re as applicable to a weekend trip to a nearby town as they are to backpacking around the world.
These work incredibly well for me, so I suspect that you’ll find them useful too.
11 Unique Ways to Optimize Your Travel Experience Wherever You Go
1. Get in the right state of mind – If you want to maximize your travel experience, you have to have an adventurous mentality. Be spontaneous and bold. Drop the inhibitions that don’t serve you. You may even have to periodically psyche yourself up (that’s what I do).
2. Pack light – There’s something magical about minimalism. Plus, it’s easier to get around when you have less stuff. (Read my article about traveling light here)
3. Walk a lot – My favorite thing to do in a new place is walk around, a lot. Exploring places on foot is an intimate experience with wherever you are. And as a bonus, walking comes with a near endless list of benefits. It’s what our body is designed to do.
4. Find the highest point – Every city has a structure with a great view and/or a hill with a phenomenal vantage point. Find out what it is and go to it. It’s always breathtaking. And if you’re not in a city, still find the high ground. Like if you’re In New Hampshire, hike Mt Washington.
5. Leverage the power of fasting – I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting. It comes with a host of health and cognitive benefits, along with making life easier. I always fast during flights if I’m changing time zones, and break the fast once I get to where I’m going. This helps me sync up with the place I’m at much quicker. What my usual day consists of is skip breakfast, having a light, healthy lunch and eating whatever I want for dinner. I never get energy crashes and feel amazing. Think about it, you can’t really function if you’re eating heavy during the day. This eating cycle also has the benefit of detoxification after indulging in food or alcohol the night before.
6. AirBnb – I use AirBnb almost everywhere I travel to. It’s cheaper than hotels and you get to meet locals who host their places.
When I was just in Barcelona, I got a room in a nice 2 bedroom apartment. The host was an Italian guy named Daniele who lived in the other bedroom. He ended up being one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. It felt like I was visiting an old friend. He had everything set-up for me and gave me the inside scoop on the best places to go. I even went out with him and his friends one night, which was a lot of fun.
7. Tinder – Yes, it’s an app for hook-ups, but it’s also a useful tool for meeting new people around you.
When I was in Marseille, France last week, I downloaded Tinder and within a few minutes I was talking to a woman from Marseilles. After we confirmed that we were both decent people, we agreed to meet up. She drove me around in her awesome little golf cart car. It was small and had no windows or doors haha. We went to a cool, local bar and then she took me to the café that her and her mother own. She knew everyone in Marseille and it was an experience I would have been hard-pressed to create on my own.
8. Find the cool spots for food and drink – The touristy places are always more expensive and worse than the good ones. They’re the overpriced ones closest to the main tourist attractions and/or squares. The best restaurants are usually smaller places on side streets. Look for handwritten menus on chalkboards, as places with those never disappoint.
9. Eat local – Eat the local cuisine. Get the genuine experience. Are you really going to eat at a chain restaurant if you’re in Italy? C’mon son. They say “When in Rome…” for a reason.
10. Drink local – This is the same premise as the food. If you’re in Belgium, drink beer. If you’re in Italy, drink wine. And even if there isn’t a famous type of drink, every place has a local brand that they’re proud of. Do yourself a favor and try it. (See my picture below with a good Croatian beer)
11. Don’t be afraid to ask – Ask for directions if you’re lost. Ask someone to take a picture of you. This will not only help you, but asking questions is a great conversation starter as well. I’ve met a lot of cool people by just asking them a question.
Try implementing some of these on your next trip. I’m pretty confident that they’ll add to your experience.
Cheers from Dubrovnik, Croatia.
– Stevie P