New Year, New Travels:
How To Maximize Your Adventures
“This post is dedicated to the dreamers of the world. The ones who are ready to put aside what makes them comfortable and travel to a new land, discover a new culture, make a new friend, and eat something extraordinary.When I started this site, I wanted to inspire people my age to explore the natural and cultural world around them, I wanted people to explore and fall in love with their own backyards, and I aimed to throw away all cultural biases and discover what the world truly is: A unique, diverse, and ultimately beautiful place.The new year has arrived and while I rarely believe in setting resolutions, I do believe in goals. I believe in places to experience, mountains to climb, new foods to try, and cultures to explore. In the past year I’ve seen people craving adventure and escape into something strange and new. In this day and age, travel is not expensive and impossible anymore. It’s about wise management, open minds, and bringing zero expectations about the adventure ahead. My goal in 2012, is to get more people traveling and exploring, collect stories, and ultimately prove that there are no closed borders in our world. In this post I’ve come up with a list of suggestions and advice about how make 2012 your best travel year ever.”
1. Rediscover Your Own Backyard!
In 2011, I set out to discover the best of South Florida in adventures that took me from a bicycle ride among wild gators to a rehabilitation center for stranded whales. There is a time where a city that might seem so exotic and exciting to outsiders becomes mundane to those that live there year round. However, being so close to our own unique landscapes provides an escape that rediscovers clarity and balance in our everyday lives. This year the U.S. National Park Service will be offering select days of free entrance to our national
parks including National Park Week from April 21-29. It’s one of the most perfect opportunities to perfect outdoor skills and introduce a new generation to our diverse outdoor landscape. Discovery is also open to those who are not as outdoor inclined. I urge many this year to add an international flair to your weekends. Find the most uncommon international cuisine in your city, support local artists and musicians who strive for their talents to be seen and heard. In South Florida, we are fortunate to have two major cultural events each month, the Gables Gallery Night and the Wynwood Art Walk where local artists display the latest and most exciting flair in the international art scene. For the food lovers, check out Food Trucks, located now in almost every major city, for a unique and gourmet spin on fast food. By taking the ordinary out of your weekend, wether sweating it out on the trails, or being dazzled by neon colors and intricate designs, re-falling in love with your own city will guarantee a more fulfilled year.
2. Hostels Are the Way To Go
One of the biggest obstacles facing the young modern traveller is affordable accommodation. Traveling through pricey European cities can be a daunting task when considering a limited budget. This is where hostels come like a godsend. Hostels are small privately run hotels and lodges that provide little more than a
bed, a campground, or simply a roof over your head. The hostels are usually dorm style, where eight or more people could crowd into bunks in a single room but are comfortable social hotspots which are great places to meet like minded people willing to join your adventures. In May I took a week long trip to Moab, Utah, a haven for climbers, hikers, people going cross country, and young adventurers. At $9.00 a night (thats not a typo, thats nine dollars a night) I stayed at the Lazy Lizard Hostel providing a bunk with clean sheets, a shower, a communal kitchen, and a host of new friends all there for the same reason. For the international traveller, looking up sites such as Hostel International will provide you with a list of international rooms, some even with campgrounds, that will assure you affordable accommodation nearly anywhere in the world. Of course the drawback to the hostels is in some cases you will have to sacrifice certain hygienic qualities for price but if you’re one that doesn’t mind being perfectly squeaky clean all the time, then hostel travel is definitely the way to go.
3. Be Adventurous With Your Eats
Food binds the world together. It is a part of travel that everyone uniquely understands. The modern tourist in Europe will be hounded by restaurants, usually located near the most tourist heavy landmarks, that think they know what the traveller wants, and usually deliver in mass portions yet low quality. Be adventurous this year.
Instead of flocking to where the guidebook takes you, slip into the empty streets and the alleyways until you find what your nose and your eyes tell you. One doesn’t need to speak the language to try something in a place where you’re going to find locals staring you down and snickering, yet where the food is fresh, homemade, and uniquely cooked each time.
When in Italy or France, explore the local markets, usually in the midweek or weekend, where you find local cheeses, meats, and produce. In India or East Asia, explore the nearly daily spice markets where the air explodes in scents of curry, cumin, and coriander seed. Go to the markets in the morning, buy as much as you’d allow yourself, and make your own lunches or dinners in your hotel, knowing that the family in the farmhouse down the road is possibly doing the same.
4. Do You Really Need All That Stuff?
There are two types of travelers, the backpackers, and the flashpackers. The backpackers are those that are able to withstand at least two pairs of clothes over a multiple span of days. The flashpacker must include a multitude of options and the electronics to go with it. In the new year, make the effort to go light, you’ll find the advantage in spending less to worry or maintain it, and more space in your pack for the important things, like food and souvenirs. In the past year I found most airlines were extremely lenient when it came to well packed backpacks (of the large camping variety), and I’ve been able to fly multiple times without having to check what was immediately on me. Invest in a great quality pack that locks around your waist, and transportation, mobility, and weight become a thing of the past. Take the essentials with you, most European cities already offer a multitude of internet options, and if you were ever in need of something as important as a hairdryer, chances are somebody at the hostel already brought it.
5. Give Back
One of the best ways to see the lesser known parts of the world is to volunteer. Through organizations such as International Volunteer Headquarters, programs up to six months are offered throughout the developing world. You choose where you want to go, the type of work you want to do, and the amount of time you’d live to give with flexible program schedules. Jobs include working with children and supporting women’s rights, to AIDS education and wildlife conservation. It’s an opportunity to truly immerse yourself in another country and culture by living, eating, and experiencing everyday life through their eyes.
6. Leave Your Comfort Zone and Get Off The Map!
This year, there is no excuse not to explore, travel, or find adventure. I urge anybody to truly have a one of kind experience this year. There are many ways to see the world cheaply and efficiency. In 2012, discover what your body is truly capable of. Take in a place not as a tourist but as a resident. Discover for yourself what makes the world truly extraordinary. Travel requires a dream, an ambition, and careful planning. It is not impossible or inaccessible to anybody. Over the next year I will continue to share my experiences, suggestions, and stories as well as passing along my passion for travel and adventure to inspire a new generation to see the world for themselves.