Cutting To The Heart

4 recommendations on how to find authenticity and adventure in a new destination

Traveling to a new destination can be exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Even with an itinerary, there are countless opportunities and experiences to be had. Here are some of our recommendations on how to embrace a new location and discover the best possible travel experience on your next trip.

Woman, shot from behind, taking a photo of the Public Market Center sign in Seattle.
Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

Embrace Spontaneous Travel Moments

Often, pondering and planning an upcoming trip is a journey of infatuation — envisioning and fantasizing about a new location or experience fills the body and mind with potential and promise. Many may be tempted to absorb and digest overwhelming amounts of information about a location, eager to add every opportunity to their running travel itinerary. While distilling a location and honing in on must see spots is important, save room for the spontaneous occurrences that only authentic travel can produce. 

“Let’s face it, time and money are precious, non-renewable resources that should be spent wisely,” said Amy Ravitz of H+A at Home and Away in regard to planning an in depth travel itinerary. “Feel free to wing some or all of your trip if that’s what makes it fun for you.  Spontaneous discoveries are some of the best travel memories that you can have!”

We encourage research aimed at building a framework for travel. Look into experiences that are meaningful to you and make sure you can enjoy them, but don’t hesitate to budget for free time to get lost in the moment and discover something new!

Seek Out A Themed Tour

If you find yourself in a new locale a great way to hit the ground running and get in tune with the local atmosphere is through a themed tour. Delve into a particular interest of yours, whether that be biking, cooking, photography, etc., and seek out local experts that can offer you a taste of their town or city through the lens of your shared interest. 

A food tour is a great way to meet a local (as they are usually your guide) and be introduced to some fabulous restaurants that you might not normally visit,” said Michelle Snell of That Texas Couple. “Food allows people to bond and connect instantly.”

Group shot from behind walking off on a trail towards large boulders in the distance.
Photo by Brandon Kaida on Unsplash

A local tour often invites you to delve into the culture and history of a location — often in a way that activates your senses and imagination, contributing to a raw and memorable experience.  

Walk More to See More

Sometimes, the richness of a location and the tantalizing cultural opportunities that make it notable can overload your schedule — forcing you through a maze of transit systems, cabs, and rideshares in an effort to see it all. While this pace of travel might be necessary to see all that you desire, consider an approach that places a premium on roving. 

“I would often talk to people in the street, especially before I got a smartphone,” said Henrik Jeppesen, founder of Every Country In The World. “It would sometimes end up with invitations to get a ride or even being offered a place to stay. One of the things I like to do in most cities is exploring it on foot.”

Group of five individuals laughing and walking down a sidewalk.
Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

With your feet on the curb and a spring in your step, exciting opportunities are sure to reveal themselves. Slowing the pace of play allows you to take in local architecture, free smells and discover hidden idiosyncrasies of a location that you would otherwise miss by simply speeding zipping around by vehicle to the next tourist trap. Don your favorite pair of walking shoes and see where your own two feet can take you on your next travel excursion.

Chat With Like Minded Locals

When you think about a new location to visit, put thought into how you can craft an authentic travel experience that suits your sensibilities. Talking with locals is the best way to learn about the destination that surrounds you, but keep in mind that not every recommendation or activity may be right for you. Charles McCool, a writer, speaker and expert on travel suggests finding your people:

Man and woman sitting at a table talking over a cup of coffee.
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

“Some people resonate with the suggestions from a luxury resort concierge while others more align with a different crowd,” said McCool. “After 1000s of trips, I feel like “my people” are small business owners, activity operators (bike/food/kayak tours), librarians, and non-customer facing hotel staff. A typical pre-pandemic tactic would be to check into a hotel/motel/inn and request extra pillows or towels. I would ask that person (usually a secondary housekeeper or maintenance person) where to get some really good authentic or home cooked food.”

While it’s always exciting to push your comfort level and try new things, making sure your travel activities are within your area of interest and allow you to feel more at home in a new place can be incredibly encouraging. Find your people. Strike up conversation with those around you that might come from similar backgrounds and standings, they often have much to offer when it comes to hidden gems and local insights that will fuel your adventurer spirit!

Find more travel resources and information to inspire and educate you at Vacationist USA.