Life is a funny thing. Sometimes it gives you the feeling you are on a roller coaster that only goes up. Hopelessly trying to make it worthwhile, we indulge in multitasking and busy schedules. But do we appreciate the life we have here and now or are we constantly focused on the future?
Talking about “traveling”, for some people a “vacation” means lying on a tropical beach or staying in an expensive hotel and there is nothing wrong with that. As the saying goes:
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”.
But now, we challenge you to think outside the box and look closely into these trip ideas. They will help you relax and grow as a person at the same time.
1. Travel back to your roots
You are always looking forward to the next trip in your calendar. What if you look back in time for once? Do you know what part of the world your ancestors come from? In order to move on with your life, you should find out where you started from. What’s more, you never know what secrets you will discover. You might be the heir of a royal family or an ancient kin! Take your parents or grandparents along. Traveling through places where they grew up may prove to be an emotional experience.
2. A long-distance trek
You love the outdoors and staying active or you would like to complete a pilgrim trek because of religion. Whatever the reasons, to conquer hundreds of miles on foot or by horse is an impressive accomplishment!
A long-distance trek offers you the chance to tune off, detach and clear your head. Surrounded by nature, you will be rewarded with plenty of time alone to figure out where you’re at in your life. An open mind and a backpack is all you need to start.
Here are some worldwide trek ideas:
Camino de Santiago or just El Camino for short is a pilgrimage that begins in France and ends in front of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Northern Spain. For many years now, pilgrims from around the world take part in the 500-mile/800-km picturesque trek.
When in the United States, you might get inspired by the story of Cheryl Strayed, (author of Wild). She took on a 1000-mile self-discovery hike following the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Mexico to Canada. Cheryl set out on her journey all alone with barely any hiking experience, but we recommend you gear up well and fully prepare before you go.
Following the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is on top of my bucket list. Even though this site has become Peru’s most popular attraction and one of the most visited in the world, I still believe it is worth it to see the 15th century archaeological ruins. There are a few options for hiking to Machu Picchu. Just bear in mind there is a 200-people daily limit on the trail for conservation reasons. Find out more here.
3. Live with locals
You might have planned the perfect trip abroad – to use a map, wander around the streets, get lost, and eat a local dish. Yet there is something missing. What you really need is a local who will spend some time with you. A local who will tell you about history, show you all the off the beaten track spots or just have an interesting conversation with you over coffee or beer. You can meet up with locals through emerging social platforms like Courchsurfing and GlobalGreeters or you could simply join a free tour.
I have lots of experience with locals. My favorite one so far was during an university exchange program in Portugal. I shared an apartment with 3 Portuguese girls for 6 months and had the best time of my life!
4. Become a volunteer
You want to do something valuable with your time? Become a volunteer! You just need a cause that suits you. Volunteering as a way of travel allows you to spend from a few weeks up to a couple of months in a foreign country. You will have the chance to improve small communities, interact with locals, gain priceless experience and make new friends at the same time. You can even become a volunteer in your hometown – plant trees, clean up parks or organize music festivals. Whatever you choose, remember that an act of kindness made for someone else will immediately boost your happiness.
You will find good volunteer trip ideas almost anywhere in the world. Building houses in Costa Rica, teaching English in Nepal or caring for abused elephants in an Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. There are endless possibilities. I personally have the latter on my bucket list. If you’re also against riding elephants as a tourist attraction, visit the Park’s website and learn more here.
5. Go on a big road trip
One of the most beautiful and picturesque roads in the world are also the curviest ones. But they are totally worth it! Going on a big road trip without a specific travel plan is somewhat liberating and challenging even for experienced travelers. To have an authentic experience, you could eat in diners and sleep in motels along the way!
A few road trip ideas:
US Route 66 is probably the most famous road you can take. Established in the early 20th century, it originally ran from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica, California, covering a little less than 4000 km (2500 miles).
Another scenic road in the USA is the Pacific Coast Highway also known as Highway 1. It runs for 1000 km along the Californian coast passing attractions such as Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey, San Francisco Bay Area. What’s more, Highway 1 connects two of the largest cities in the state – Los Angeles and San Francisco. Get ready for rocky cliffs, wild nature and stunning views.
You can find similar scenery of the ocean, clear blue skies and green fields on the Southern coast of Australia where the Great Ocean Road stretches for as long as 243 km (151 miles).
6. Overcome your fears
Do something that scares you! Skydive, bungee jump, scuba dive, rock climb, talk to foreigners or ride a bicycle. Whatever gives you the creeps, face it! The first and most important step is to give it a try.
When it comes to traveling, adventures and extreme sports, people have this common “What if something happens…” fear. What if, what if… but what if nothing happens? It’s natural to be afraid of something you have never done before. You are afraid not because it is scary, but because you have no idea what to expect. If that is the case, just remind yourself there are thousands of people around the world who have done it before you. And they are normal people, just like you!
Fear means you are about to do something mind-blowing! After you do it and the adrenaline rush kicks in, you will feel silly for previously being afraid.
7. Find out where your food comes from
In the time of GMOs, altered foods and artificial products, we challenge you to find local venues where you can see for yourself where our food comes from. It could be a winery or a brewery where you could get acquainted with the production process – from picking up grapes through fermentation to bottling. When in South America, be sure to visit a coffee plantation and do a coffee tour. Pick up, dry, roast and grind coffee beans for your own cup of coffee.
A challenge for advanced travelers would be to visit a farm or a ranch and do some volunteer work. Once you learn what it takes to make cheese and butter out of milk, you will definitely appreciate food more. Wherever you travel, do as the locals do – drink wine in Tuscany or Provence, whiskey in Ireland, espresso in Italy. And simply enjoy every bite!
8. Travel solo
At least once a year set out on a trip planned especially to fulfill you and you only. Solo travel enriches you in a way companion travel cannot. Make sure you choose an activity or a destination where you feel safe enough, but still outside your comfort zone. It could be a week in a foreign city abroad, a digital detox or a camping weekend. Be ready to feel the self-confidence, creativity and clear mind that will come along.