There’s more to travel than just getting from A to B and doing things at B and returning to A; it’s about more than just a passport stamp, the photos, the social media posts and the stories we tell upon return.
Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living – Miriam Beard.
Do these 21 things to travel and experience more this year
Make this year a year of travel that’s about more than just the seeing of sights. Feel the change, make deeper connections, listen to the road, sit down for others’ stories, give back, be grateful, have conscious encounters, soulful sojourns and be present.
1. Slow down
Time might not always be on your side while travelling, but try to slow down during your next trip. Cover shorter distances, stay an extra night, do less, feel more and travel deeper.
2. Visit a National Park or a Provincial Reserve
Almost 100 countries around the world have lands classified as national parks protecting diverse fauna and flora, from Africa to Asia. South Africa alone has 19 national parks, as well as dozens of provincial parks protecting anything and everything from cultural heritage to marine life. Visit a park, explore one in your province or perhaps an hour or two away, pay a conservation fee (or get yourself a Wild Card) and be amazed by our country’s different natural landscapes and environments.
3. Go somewhere alone
Solo travel is not possible for everyone (especially if you have a family), and some prefer to travel with the ones closest to them, but if you have a desire for me-time, to explore and get away for a few days, then just go. Especially if the idea of solo travel has crossed your mind. Don’t wait for others. Make it happen now. Solo travel is an enriching experience, whether you want to do a local road trip or explore a foreign country.
4. Stay at home and visit the city (or town) next door
Explore the destination closest to you; your back yard, the town next door, the one that’s an hour away. Be a tourist in your own city, see it through the eyes of a visitor, appreciate the things one can take for granted so quickly like the weather, the beaches, the litter-free streets, the clean air or the lack of traffic.
5. Enjoy more sunsets and sunrises
Just because it happens once a day but every day does not mean we should not appreciate every sunrise and every sunset. Get up early for sunrise and go outside for sunset, be in the moment and watch.
6. Take more dirt roads
See more views, go through more passes, stop at more mountain streams, experience more things off the beaten path and get on more dirt roads or alternative roads. The majority of South Africa’s dirt roads are well-maintained and an easy drive for normal sedan vehicles.
7. Ask questions
Stop in towns, visit destinations and ask questions. Ask “how are you”, ask “what’s your name”, ask about the history, the present and the future.
8. Speak up for the environment
Be the voice of nature; speak up when someone is littering, damaging fauna or flora or doing environmental harm. Speak up by changing your habits, by using less plastic, by buying local and by recycling.
9. Taste more
Don’t just eat your meals, taste your meals. Keep the devices off the table, have conversations, try different food, waste less and support local restaurants, cafes and fruit and veggie sellers.
10. Be loud about animal rights
There’s no other way around it anymore, animals suffer all over the world to entertain tourists. Say no to elephant riding, say no to dolphin shows, say no to cheetah walking, lion cub petting, tiger selfies, bull fights, civet cat coffee and say no to animals in circuses. Know why you are saying no, educate yourself, educate others. And be nice, most of us have been sweet-talked into a conservation-story before without realising that it is harmful.
11. Save money
Spend less money on things and more on experiences; spend money on what makes you happy, not on what society expects of you and not on something that will make someone else happy at your cost. Differentiate between what you want, what you need and what you dream about.
12. Travel lighter
Pack less. It is just easier.
13. Experience first, post later
Experience a moment 100% from head to toe, left to right and beginning to end before sharing it on social media.
14. Disconnect to connect
Know when to switch off. Switch off from work, from the daily grind, from negativity, from social media, from your phone and your laptop and connect to something bigger and stronger than wi-fi, whether it is the universe, your religion, nature or just a good dosage of positivity.
15. Take more photos
Capture those special moments.
16. Take less photos
Don’t experience life through the lens of a camera, know when to put it down.
Read less of Facebook and more literature. Read articles, research, books, inscriptions at museums, history and how-to guides. Read a poem (to someone). And maps, definitely read maps.
18. Let go of travel envy
Your weekend getaway to the town 2 hours from home is just as worthy as your friend’s weeklong getaway to Thailand. Stop comparing. Comparison is the thief of joy.
19. Study, teach and learn
There is a whole world at your fingertips thanks to the internet. Teach yourself something new; learn a few words in a different language, learn how to change a tyre, how to sail or how to make videos. Help others, teach a skill, share a talent.
20. See every day as a travel opportunity
Don’t let the 8-5 wear you down, see every day as an opportunity to travel even if it boils down to appreciating the clouds on your way to work, eating lunch in a nearby park or making a quick stop at the beach after work. Use your weekends, leave days and long weekends wisely and make the most of local travel opportunities.
21. Make lists, have dreams
Don’t let anyone tell you that bucket lists are overrated or that it will limit you to only a few experiences. Make lists of things you still want to see, do and experience; call it your bucket list, call it your travel list, call it your living list, call it your challenges list or call it your dream list because that is what bucket lists are all about, dreams. And definitely don’t let anyone tell you not to have a list of dreams. Constantly go into the direction of your dreams; dream bigger, dream more, add more dreams, change dreams and continue to dream.