I’ve been learning a lot about myself lately by experiencing new destinations with local travel. My travels have allowed me to connect with locals immediately. Consequently, I’ve met people from different backgrounds, religions, creeds, and races. The dichotomy has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire bike tour. I’ve learned much more about where people come from and how they became who they are today. By listening and being open to new experiences, I’ve been able to expand my own horizons.
My learning began with pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I’ve been in some tense situations as cultures clashed as people with different backgrounds struggled to express their point of view. I’ve been caught in the middle of arguments, discussions, and negotiations. The difficulty has been well worth it. I’ve learned so much more about how my background shaped who I am while learning where other people come from.
Local travel has enabled all this. It is one of the most rewarding experiences. Understanding a person and a place takes forethought and an open mind. Local travel allows you to do this. You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and connect with people where they are. In this post, I want to help you engage in local travel. The benefits in my life have been innumerable. I hope you can integrate more local travel into your life to see the full benefits.
Why Should You Try to Travel like a Local?
Local travel can be tough. You’re taken away from the amenities of big resorts or tourist services. You may find yourself sleeping on a couch or in a spare bedroom. Activities may be harder to figure out since they will be off the beaten tourist path. Is the juice worth the squeeze?
In my experience, the answer is unequivocally YES. The experiences you gain by getting outside your comfort zone are life-changing. When I got on my bike in Connecticut I never imagined what my bike tour would bring. I thought it would be all about biking. I imagined myself enjoying the scenery, challenge, and solitude. That quickly changed as I began to realize the benefits of local travel. The tour became less about biking and more about connecting with local people. The nature of the bike tour allowed me to truly connect with people. I heard incredible stories of life, love, happiness, and sadness. Every destination brought a new story and a new connection.
The tour became about creating these connections and less about biking. The local experiences at each destination are what drove me to continue. These experiences allowed me to develop a much more well-rounded view of the US and the world. I began to understand why people thought in certain ways and how they expressed themselves. This openness to the world changed my life and opened up my world.
Opening Yourself to the World with Local Travel
Local travel is incredible. Your eyes are opened to a world of possibilities and experiences. The world doesn’t seem like such a big place as you discover similar attitudes from people with completely different backgrounds. Learning about different traditions and backgrounds helps you place your own beliefs. You understand why people are the way they are and how they formed their opinions. This experience is invaluable. My experiences this winter in Houston are a prime example.
In the past two months, I’ve integrated myself into the Houston community. I’ve met people from around the US and the world. I’ve met people who grew up in extreme poverty to people with millions of dollars. There has been someone with a different race, background, or experience every step along the way. Integrating into the community and traveling like a local has allowed me to do this. I’ve engaged at the local level to learn. My primary goal is to listen. Consequently, my eyes have been opened to new stories and experiences. Happiness exists at every level and section of society. This has opened my eyes to discovering where my own happiness and passion lie. It’s been an incredible journey.
How You Can Travel Like a Local
Once you begin to travel like a local you won’t want to travel any other way. The benefits are incredible for yourself and others. You don’t have to have months of free time or vacation to take part in local travel. You can do it at home.
The first step is to get outside your comfort zone and be willing to take on new experiences. Have you ever had that sinking feeling in your stomach before you do something new? I have and many times it’s stopped me from trying something new. It took me a long time to learn that the anxiety and trepidation weren’t worth it. Doing something new made me happy. The anxiety was never warranted. Local travel requires you to try new things. Learn to deal with these feelings and understand that they are never warranted. Anxiety is normal. You will learn that new uncomfortable experiences are well worth the worry.
The second step is to learn to listen. Be open to new thoughts and opinions. Instead of arguing ask why. Be willing to sit with someone new and understand where they come from. Ask questions instead of making statements. It’s incredible what you can learn.
Lastly, change your approach to everyday life and travel. Local travel starts at home. Find a new group of people with different views than you. Go out and talk to them. Understand their background and where they come from. Try to find a new group every few weeks. This will open you up to new experiences on the road (it may even make you want to travel). On the road, get hyper-local. Go to local meetups or stay with locals. Couchsurfing and Airbnb are great options. They allow you to immediately connect with locals while giving you access to off the beaten path destinations. Ask locals for recommendations in bars, restaurants, and shops. Their advice is ten times better than Google or Trip Advisor.
Travel Like a Local to Change Your Life
Local travel has changed my life. I never imagined the perspectives and happiness I would gain through local travel. My experiences have been invaluable. I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to travel for so long while meeting so many people. I will treasure the experience I’ve had for a lifetime. They have been the best part of my bike tour.
I hope you can see how local travel can change your life. It opens you up to new experiences while allowing you to gain incredible perspective. You learn a lot about yourself and others. The discomfort is well worth the new experiences.
Start by getting local at home and engaging with new groups with different lines of thinking. Push yourself outside your comfort zone by listening. Learn to investigate people’s backgrounds. Change your approach at home and on the road to people and places. Engage with people when you can instead of staring at your smartphone. Your happiness begins with a will to change. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is the best way learn how to be happy.
What are your experiences with local travel? Have you had any incredible experiences that changed your life? How have you expanded your comfort zone? Let me know in the comments!
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