I am an over achiever. I want to do everything, and I want to have everything (talk to my husband about it!). So you won’t be surprised that I always try to get the most out of my trips. We once visited 7 European countries in 3 weeks! But here are other ways to benefit from our travel.
First, stop and stare… and I’m not talking about One Republic’s song. I’m talking about taking our time, driving instead of flying, biking instead of driving, and walking instead of biking. The goal: to get the most of our surroundings. We travel to the other side of the planet, and we don’t even take a minute to watch kids play in a park and people walking by. We want to visit as many sites as possible, but the city’s vibe is as interesting. And since we are not able to stop and stare at home, why not do it on a trip? Then it will also be a vacation.
Secondly, say ‘yes’! Yes to local (and decent) offers, to get a true sense of how locals live. The museum we will forget, but not the people we meet. And people everywhere are pretty nice. In Vietnam, we have been invited to dinner by our motorbike driver. He was much younger than us and had so little, but he and his wife were so generous! We had the best meal with them, in their 15’x20’ only room, sitting on their bed, with their cute little baby boy who stared at us! We learned how a young family like them lived, and we learned that we don’t need that much to be that generous!
If we feel there’s too much hassle where we are, we should walk two blocks to another part of town and get out of that tourist ghetto. Restaurants are going to be cheaper, the cuisine more local and the experience more genuine.
Taking courses on a trip is another way of making the most out of our trip. Learning to cook Vietnamese is better in Vietnam than in Minnesota! And it makes much better stories to tell. Like that time, again in Vietnam, where I learned to cook Vietnamese rolls (they didn’t look good at all) and took a bath, right beside the ‘kitchen’ (the area where we cooked on the ground), in a huge wood barrel that took forever to fill with hot water. If I hadn’t done that, you couldn’t see a picture of me in a bath right now!
Finally, asking advice from locals is the best: they know their place better than anybody else, and they can suggest something better than the tourist traps that we all fall for. When I’m in my hometown, and a tourist asks me a question, I am honored to help him, and so proud he is visiting my country!
It’s not that complicated: we should take our time, talk to people, and take it all in! Because the experiences we live on a trip will change us and makes us grow!