22 Ways To Have Deeper Travel Experiences

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One of the best parts of travel, is the experiences you have and the connections you make. More and more we’re seeing people valuing grabbing a good Insta pic over finding enriching, deep and authentic experiences.

Travel culture is evolving, and with this digital age we live in, there are those who are lost in looking good on the ‘gram and have forgotten the true purpose of travel.

caz and craig with sabina and guisseppe
Cooking class in Tuscany

All is not lost though – there are still a few people out there who value authentic experiences over a good photo. Some of us want to come away from our travels with fond memories, new friends, a deeper understanding of a culture, and a new appreciation for home. And hey, if you get a good photo, that’s a bonus!

If this resonates with you, and you’re in the group of travelers looking to have deeper experiences while on the road, then we’re here for you.

Below we’ve shared our tips on how to deepen your travel experiences and make the most out of any destination you visit. We want you to come away feeling fulfilled and satisfied that you’ve really delved into the culture and way of life of where you visit.

And here’s how you do it…

Ways To Deepen Your Travel Experiences

1. Spend More Time in Fewer Places

family on pier looking at water in broome
Chilling in Broome for 6 weeks

Instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through 6 continents in 6 months, get to know a region well.

Having to pack and unpack, deal with many airports, bus terminals, boarder crossings and even visa issues can lead to burn out. And too much transport can really eat into your budget.

So slow down and take more in. That way, you won’t suffer from burn out, and you’ll get a better feel for a place and learn about the best things to see and do.

Understand that you will never have time to see EVERYTHING. And be okay with it.

2. Talk to the Locals

Meeting the locals in Dali, China
Hanging with the locals in Dali, China

It can go a long to a friendship, good advice, and even a discount. A good starter is to ask for directions or advice (“Where’s a good restaurant?”).

Get a phrasebook and make the effort to learn at least a few phrases of the local language. It can make life easier for you and the locals will respect you more.

3. Blow Your Budget (Once In A While)

woman standing in front of a helicopter
Blowing the budget on a Whitsundays helicopter ride

Every now and then throw your daily budget calculator out the window. We go away to experience things and create lifelong memoriesDon’t limit yourself to just traveling for the sake of traveling.

Go splurge on a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, go on a safari, jump out of a plane, do something incredible.

Even if you have to go under budget for a few days or a week to compensate for your splurge. It’s worth it.

4. Get Up Early In The Morning

silhouette of lady watching orange outer banks sunrise
Outer Banks sunrise

Get up early, it really is the best time of day. You’ll see a city come to life, there will be fewer tourists, and you will have more time to explore.

Also, the early light is less harsh and can be the best time for photography.

5. Leave Room For Flexibility In Your Schedule

car next to coastline
Nafplio beach road trip

If you’re on an extended trip, don’t pre-book everything. You’ll meet people along the way who will recommend great places you’ve never heard of.

You’ll discover interesting cultural activities and tours, and places you thought you only needed 2 days in you’ll need a week.

Places that sound great from your research at home turn out to be a dive. If all your flights, tours and accommodation are pre-booked, it can be costly to change. Go with the flow a little.

6. Travel With An Open Mind

Chinese man in Lijiang, China

We  travel abroad to experience different cultures, environments, and ways of thinking. Don’t shut yourself off to experiencing all there is to offer.

If you travel with an open mind you can have a much more enriching experience.

There are times and moments when other cultures will shock you. Don’t judge them. When this happens, we just sit back and say to ourselves …“Isn’t that interesting?”

7. Use Social Media For Inspiration

I have a love-hate relationship with social media, it can be a blessing and a curse. I do think it’s a great resource for finding inspiration.

Look up hash tags for the destinations you are visiting, and you may spot a hidden gem that someone has been to.

Go and “like” your favorite travel sites on Facebook and Instagram and “follow” them on Twitter, so you’re in the know about new places to visit.

Also, it’s common for sites and companies to release hot deals directly through their social media channels.

8. Travel Light

caz and the girls looking at the tower in st mark's square venice
St Mark’s Square Venice (with my lightweight day bag!)

Pack the bare minimum, because you can always buy more things you need when you get there. Lugging a huge suitcase around is not easy, nor fun. You can have a much better experience when you have a lighter load to carry.

One of my biggest tips for traveling light is to wear your big hiking boots onto the plane rather than pack them. You can also stuff your underwear into your shoes to maximise space.

It’s always best to halve your clothes and double your budget.

11. Make It A Working Holiday

teaching english in bangkok
teaching english in bangkok

If you’re considering long term travel, a working holiday can give you the opportunity to experience a new culture, gain new skills, and it’s a great way to fund your travels for an extended stay.

By participating in a working holiday, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the people and their day to day lives, you’ll get a real feel for the heartbeat of the country, and you’ll get out of your comfort zone by trying different and unusual jobs.

Don’t miss this opportunity: Work and Travel Abroad the Easy Way with Global Work & Travel

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12. Consider Living Off One Wage

If you are a couple and are saving for your dream trip, consider living off one wage and put the other away into a dedicated savings account. That’s what we did for a whole year and it really adds up.

This way you can be ready for our earlier tip on blowing your budget.

13. Get Flashcards Made Up

If you are traveling in a foreign land with a difficult language, get some flashcards made up with basic commands.

When we travelled China we had a flashcard saying we were vegetarian.

Also, get the hotels business card with the local language printed on it so you can show taxi drivers the location of where you are staying.

14. Be Flexible With Your Dates and Times

man and woman sitting outside travel trailer
We loved the flexible nature of RV travel

Give yourself the best chance to travel freely by not restricting to a schedule. You might meet some friends, or some locals, who want to spend a day with you.

Leave room in your itinerary for change. You never know what could happen over a few days before or after your ideal date.

15. Stay More Than 1 Night

You don’t see much of a place when you’re passing through. If you’re staying somewhere between destinations, make sure you give yourself at least a full day to explore a place.

16. Look For Guesthouses And Homestays

craig lying on hostel bed
Our homestay along Tiger Leaping Gorge

Staying with the local community is the best way to get to know them. When you stay at a guest house, or a homestay (staying with a local family) you really get to experience the people.

Most of the time, guest houses are run by families and they love foreigners, and will go out of their way to make you feel at home.

Usually when we stay at a homestay, we’re invited to dinners, or at the very least, invited to have conversation.

It’s the best way to get really integrated in the community.

17. Sleep While Traveling From A-B

When taking a flight, train, or bus, try and plan it so you are traveling at night. That way, you can spend more time in each place getting to know the city and its people.

You also have the bonus of not paying for a night’s accommodation.

18. Dine Where The Locals Dine

woman cooking food on a grill
Street food at a Bangkok floating market

Want to know the best place to eat? Go where the locals go! This is where you’ll find the most authentic food, and probably the most delicious.

Eating out is a luxury no matter where in the world you go, so when it’s good enough for the locals, it’s good enough for me.

We love street foods and markets when we travel. They’re great for authentic, cheap food and an insight into local culture.

19. Eat Away From The Tourist Streets

Lady eating a bowl of pasta
Pure joy! Gluten free Carbonara at Mama Eats

The tourist streets are usually filled with tourist traps. The food will be expensive and likely not as authentic.

Restaurants know that foreigners like the comforts of home, so you’ll find all the international cuisine around attractions.

If you want to have something authentic to eat, walk one street or one block over and it will usually be cheaper and more authentic.

Mama Eats in Trastevere was one of our favorite finds on our Rome trip – well away from the tourist areas.

20. Eat From The Street Carts And Vendors

street food carts on koh sahn road bangkok

Not only is it cheap to eat from street carts, but it’s what the locals do, especially if you’re traveling in Southeast Asia.

You can see what is actually being cooked and is cooked fresh right in front of you.

Pay attention to where the locals eat and what is popular, that way you can be assured it is safe to eat there.

Here’s why you should try street food on your travels, great street food places in Bangkok, and floating markets in Bangkok to visit.

21. Travel Like The Locals

an old car
Getting around like the locals in Africa

Use public transport where possible and travel the same way the locals do. Not only does this save you money, but it’s a good way to immerse yourself in the way of life at a place. 

You get great knowledge and insight by hanging with the locals and it’s a more authentic travelling experience.

We have met so many amazing local people from traveling at close quarters with them on public transport.

22. Walk As Much As You Can

Two girls walking through a park.
Walking around Paris

You can experience more things just by wandering around a city and getting lost, talking with locals, and people watching.

It’s a great way to soak up the local culture, and get a real feel for the atmosphere of a place.

Get active and see things at a slower pace, and walking is always FREE!

You can explore local markets, wander around and take lots of photos, or even hike to the top of a hill for an awesome view. Stay in accommodation that allows for this and you will also save money on transportation.

We recently visited London, Paris, and Rome and walked 10 – 14 miles per day. It was the best way to see the city and soak up the atmosphere.

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