The beauty of travel is that it has the potential to open you up to new adventures, a possibility that is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Deciding to set off and explore a new culture with a different set of customs, habits and tastes requires challenging yourself to accept that you may feel uneasy as you shed your preconceptions about your destination. With a little courage, though, you can face new ideas and perhaps even discover the life that you were meant to live through travel. If you aren’t sure exactly how to start opening yourself up, simply try following these five travel tips and make your next trip an adventure.
Take a solo trip
Traveling with friends or family may be a wonderful bonding opportunity, but having a familiar face with you as you travel prevents you from completing absorbing yourself in the place you’re visiting and the adventures available. Meeting new people, freeing yourself from your inhibitions and moving beyond your comfort zone are all necessary components of adventure, and it is much more difficult to find the courage to be daring when you can take respite in the friend at your side.
Put away your camera
The desire to capture every memory can end up preventing you from actually making any. Your camera lens distances you from your surroundings, and that disconnect can mean that you miss out on precious opportunities. Instead of taking a picture of a street performer, talk to him and discover his story. Take a bite of what a street vendor is hocking rather than taking her snapshot. When you leave your camera in your hotel room, you may find adventure was in front of you the entire time.
Wander through a new city without looking a map
Many vacationers feel the impulse to plan every second of their trip, but doing so precludes the possibility of surprise; how can you plan in something unexpected? Challenge yourself to explore the new city in front of you without a plan or a destination in mind. Take the winding side streets instead of the main thoroughfares, stop in the small shops rather than visit the souvenir stands and pick the unnamed cafe rather than the restaurant with the English-language menu option.
Challenge yourself to speak the local language
Trying to speak a new language is a humbling experience, but attempting to communicate with locals in their native tongue is an amazing way to connect with the place you’re visiting. Put aside any concerns that you will make a fool of yourself; you might, and that’s okay. Resist the temptation to assume that everyone will be able to speak English with you. Even if they can, you’ll always remain a tourist who is closed off to adventure until you make an effort at the language.
Order the dish on the menu that you’ve never heard of
When faced with a menu in a language you’re unfamiliar with, the temptation is to order whatever dish is most recognizable to you. Perhaps you’re in Guadalajara and want to order the tacos rather than the birria, or you’re leaning toward the pizza rather than the ‘o pere e ‘o musso in Naples. But ordering the dish that you already know you like means that you risk missing out on one of the most fundamental ways of discovering the place you’re visiting. Be daring: order what the locals are having, whether you recognize it or not–and don’t worry about mispronouncing the name.
Part travel memoir, part self-help book, Live, Love, Explore is a guide to finding meaning and adventure in your everyday life and discovering the road you were always meant to walk.