5 Ways to Connect with Your Trip in a Way That’s Meaningful, AND Memorable
The rise of ‘experiential travel’ has transformed the way wanderers trot the globe. With longer trip times and an innate thirst to immerse themselves in local cultures and communities, millennials are shying away from luxury travel, and instead seeking out experiences that are both meaningful, and memorable.
Here are some of our favorite ways to immerse yourself in a handful of destinations…
Orphanage work in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia
Across the globe, UNICEF estimates that 153 million children have lost one or both parents, with HIV/AIDS cited as a major cause. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are two regions where orphan rates run despondently high, as anyone who’s travelled here will undoubtedly have noticed.
Just remember, while most orphanages have humanitarian motives at heart, the reality is that some are treated as money machines. A recent West African UN report identified an urgent need to protect children from “Orphan Dealers” who actively exploit both children, and benevolent tourists. Do your research, choose an orphanage that’s genuine, and “don’t become a part of the problem.”
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Spiritual retreats in Bali
While the majority of Indonesians are Muslim (90% of the population associate with the Abrahamic religion), the island of Bali lives and breathes Agama Tirta. Celebrated as the “holy-water religion," the Shivaite sect of Hinduism is spiritual, celestial and underpinned by an innate search for balance and harmony. Rather than indulge in cheap cocktails, £5 massages and luxury villas, immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Bali by whisking yourself away on a transformative retreat.
Yoga workshops in India
Long before Lululemon leggings and painfully hip Los Angeles yoga studios, the ancient practice was an intrinsic part of Northern India’s Indus-Sarasvati civilisation. Developed to heal the mind, body and spirit, yoga helps strengthen the physique for extended meditation sessions. When the overwhelming colors, sounds and scents of India become too much, deepen your experience by finding sanctuary at one of the country’s enlightening yoga retreats.
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While the volunteering trend is largely embraced by younger travellers, don’t be put off by this generalization if you’re a grey nomad. There’s always a place for generosity, no matter what your age! For example, the mom of one of my best friends has been a qualified nurse for 30 years. Post retirement, she decided she needed a little enrichment in her life, and now spends one month of every year volunteering at a hospital in Africa. The fantastic thing about volunteering is that there’s a niche for pretty much all passions. Love animals? Deep in the Bolivian jungle, Inti Wara Yassi is an independently operated wildlife refuge that combats illegal trafficking, cruelty and rehabilitation.
Teach English abroad
Yes, it’s a little cliché and patently unoriginal. But teaching English is (and always has been!) one of the absolute best ways to simultaneously travel, and change the world. In developing nations, English empowers children with a host of opportunities, from tourism to business, and beyond. Whether you donate your time for free by reaching out to a NGO organization, or seek out a paid position, teaching little ones their ABCs will ensure your trip’s full of smiles, laughter and learning.
Live, learn and nurture the Earth by getting involved in the concept of WOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). With a purpose that’s just as awesome as the acronym that represents it, exchanging labour for lodging on sustainable farms is a fantastic way to get down and dirty with Mother Nature in more than 100 countries across the globe.
We’ve only scratched the surface of ways modern travellers can enrich their adventures. Whether you’re wandering for two weeks or booked yourself a one-way ticket, we’d urge all world travellers to think beyond Tripadvisor, and seek out experiences that create deeper, long-lasting connection with a destination.