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How to Maximize Your Travel Experience?

Updated on November 13, 2021
Uriel Mbobda profile image

Uriel is an intellectual property lawyer, a fiction writer, and a language enthusiast.

Your Travel Experience Is Unique

So far, I have been to five countries and have visited several regions, towns, or villages in those five. To make the most of my travels, I had to identify what I call My Travel Interests. Simply defined, these are the elements that captivate you the most about a place. To determine them, you need to ask yourself: what catches my interest when I visit a place?

  • Is it the physical aspect/environment?
  • Am I interested in meeting people and making new connections?
  • Do I like trying new restaurants and attractions?
  • Am I rather attracted by the emotional and historical background of the place?
  • Do the place's language and culture irresistibly draw my attention?

Now that you have identified your travel interests, you may put them on a scale and ask yourself How will they impact my travel? Let's answer that question with an illustration of a popular destination. We will use Rome, which, according to Statista Website, receives close to eight million visitors yearly. So, assuming you're offered a five-day trip to Rome, what will come to your mind first? Let's say, Italian Food. This implies that a travel objective of yours could be to try at least five different Italian meals before the end of your trip. Thus, when it comes time to leave Rome, even though you might have visited all the museums and historical places, if you did not eat an Italian meal, you may feel unfulfilled! In this article, we learn how each travel interest impacts your journey.

Travel Interest Scale

Put your travel interests in order of preference for you to draft the most realistic travel objectives.

The two people by my side contributed to making my 2018 trip to Serekunda, The Gambia, a memorable one!
The two people by my side contributed to making my 2018 trip to Serekunda, The Gambia, a memorable one!

1. The People Interest

Whether you travel alone or with friends and family, the people you meet throughout your journey can turn around the course of your journey. From enjoying great touristic recommendations to building memorable friendships, there is sometimes just one step. In October 2018, I made a one-week trip to the Gambia for a Human Rights seminar. Thanks to a few locals I sympathized with on the first day, I was able to not just benefit from the program, but also to visit the Gambian beaches and grab some souvenirs at the local market.

Here are a few tips if you consider making new connections on your next trip:

  1. Be open-minded: Good thing you already read about that place on the Internet and know almost all there is to know about it. However, keep in mind that the best experiences are not told, they are lived!
  2. Keep your originality: In as much as you're willing to learn from others, do not be ashamed of talking about where you are from and what makes you... you!
  3. Be Prudent: It may sound contradictory to what was mentioned above, but not every friendly person you'll meet should be trusted. So, to avoid any bad surprise, always keep your eyes open.

2. The Natural Environment

Every place has its natural features and discovering them may be part of your travel experience. You do not need to be an artist to find interest in the natural environment of your place of destination! Remember, the beauty of a region, town, or village may not necessarily reside in its ostentatious characteristics; it may as well be in that thing that nobody ever talks about. For example, if a city is majorly known for its mountains, there may as well be a spring in there which, even though it does not attract as much attention as the mountains, is beautiful in its own right.

On your next trip, to enjoy the best Mother Nature has to offer, you must:

  1. Make your research: Before and during your trip, gather information from as many sources as you can on the best places to spot or enjoy at your place of destination.
  2. Be ready to go the extra mile: As said earlier, you must be willing to discover the beauty in the hidden corners too!
  3. Check the weather: It may sound trivial, but always make sure you are exploring at the right time of the year.

In short, Beauty is everywhere. It is not that she is lacking to our eye, but our eyes which fail to perceive her.

— Auguste Rodin

3. The Cultural Interest

In a general sense, culture is the way of life of a people. Having culture as a travel interest implies a willingness to learn the beliefs and traits specific to a group of people and how it impacts their daily lives. It may not necessarily be to implement them, but rather our of curiosity, self-satisfaction and maybe to enhance one's future conversations with friends, why not?

Again, discovering another culture must be done with the right mindset:

  1. Be prepared to be shocked: Remember, it is peculiar to a group of persons. You must not expect their way of life to be the same as yours.
  2. Remain respectful: You may disagree with a particular trait, but be careful not to hurt people's sensitivities.
  3. Why not mingle a little? If you can learn one or two dance steps, a recipe, an idiomatic expression, wouldn't that make your experience memorable? I learned how to eat a chapati on a recent trip to Jinja, Uganda and I'm looking forward to trying the recipe one of these days.

Uganda-made chapati
Uganda-made chapati | Source

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

— Stephen R. Covey

4. The Historical Background

Are you fond of historical facts and figures? It could be enchanting to know how a town was founded, who were its original inhabitants, what it was famous for, and the like. Sometimes, there may still be relics of a period of history visible in the present day; encountering them will give some charm to your travel experience!

If this is part of your interests, you may want to:

  1. Visit local museums
  2. Look out for historical sites and vestiges
  3. Ask questions if possible to the locals. You may be surprised how many anecdotes you can hear about a place!

Posing before one of the oldest post offices in Cameroon
Posing before one of the oldest post offices in Cameroon

5. The Attractions

Enough of the scholarly part of travels! Whether it's a seasonal festival, a popular restaurant, an amusement park or a carnival, there will always be at least one major attraction in the place you will visit. Within your own limits, try out as much as you can, and you will always have a story to tell.

A carnival in Buenos Aires
A carnival in Buenos Aires | Source

Get Ready!

To sum it up, to get the best of your next travel experience, your travel preparations should take into account the following:

  • Your experience will be unique and greatly based on your expectations
  • Your interests must be defined and preferably placed in order of priority
  • You must set realistic objectives tied with your interests.

You will find below how a Travel Interest Chart can look like. I took the hypothetical scenario of planning a five-day trip to Paris. Why not do the same for the next destination on your bucket list?

A Sample Travel Interest Chart

Travel Interests
Visit the Louvre Museum & Notre Dame Cathedral
Sympathize with at least two persons with whom I'll develop my French skills!
Learn how to cook "le coq au vin"

© 2020 Uriel Eliane


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