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How To Make Your Travels More Meaningful

Ditch the group tours.

Is it time for you to pick up your bags and go on that adventure you’ve had circled on your calendar for months? Traveling is an incredibly exciting thing, but sometimes it can end up feeling a bit cliché or bitin. I love to travel, and on many of my trips, I found that exploring a new place can be more than just a sightseeing trip. It’s a time when you learn new things, and discover who you are while you see the world. So before you pack your bags and tell your boss you’ll be unreachable for a while, make sure to keep these tips in mind to make your travels absolutely memorable.

Get to know the place before going there

A lot of people make the mistake of setting out for a place without knowing anything about its history or culture. They simply know that the Eiffel Tower in Paris is a bucket list item for that perfect romantic photograph, without knowing why it even exists! Picking up a guidebook or checking out the city on Google will give you so much more insight about the place you’re visiting, and make everything you do there more exciting!

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Search for hole-in-the-wall places

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It’s fun to see the popular tourist spots, but one of the most exciting and satisfying things when traveling is discovering some tiny restaurant down a small alleyway with the cheapest and most delicious food you’ve ever had! You might even get to strike up an interesting conversation with the owner, and learn things about the city that you otherwise wouldn't know if you go to a commercialized area.

Travel in small groups and meet fellow travelers

Going in large tour groups might make you feel more secure, but it will definitely hinder you from really experiencing what you can from a place. Traveling with just one or two companions, or even going solo will really let you discover more about the place and yourself. You’ll be forced to put aside any fears and figure things out on your own.

Be cheap...with accommodation

Instead of booking a fancy hotel, try staying at a youth hostel or a homestay resort. When sleeping arrangements aren’t luxurious, you’ll make sure to use it for just that—sleeping. This means you’ll be up nice and early, making the most of your limited hours, and back late after a wild night out. Most hostels and homestays are filled with other young foreigners and travelers, all eager to make new friends. Many of these places even have free tours or suggestions for things to do that are perfect for young people.

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Eat like a local

One of the least common things done when traveling is making your own food. Shopping for food and cooking it will make you feel more at home in a foreign city, and let you wind down and live like a local. You’ll be surprised how fun it is to get confused by the foreign labels.

Grab some cheese, ham, bread, and prepare yourself a sandwich, and then head out for a relaxing afternoon at the park where you can people-watch and enjoy the cool breeze.

Take LOTS of photos. 

A lot of people might say that taking pictures and videos makes a traveler not fully immersed in the experience, but on the contrary, photos and videos of the sights and the people you see will be one of the best things to keep. Videos, especially, can bring back the best memories as you listen to the sounds of laughter at a bar you were in or the brightness of a perfect sunny day.

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Be careful though and make sure you’re taking pictures for you, and not for the thrill of showing them off on social media. There’s a fine line between traveling through your pictures and letting your camera follow your travels, so be careful not to get too immersed in your photos.

Remember, the best experiences stay with you longer through your memories, not your photo albums.

Do something you’ve never done before

You’ve gotten out there and you’re in a place you’ve never been to, surrounded by people and things that are completely unfamiliar—it’s the perfect time to try something you’ve either always wanted to do, or never even thought about. So order that strange-sounding dish at the restaurant, buy that suspicious-looking bun at the stall, rent a surfing board and hire an instructor, kiss that cute stranger at the bar! And if you’re already the adventurous type, pick up that book that’s been collecting dust and lie down and relax for once. You will never regret any of them, as these things will most definitely be the highlight of your trip, and the stories you’ll be most eager to tell.

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The world is at your feet, CGs! Carpe diem!