When you look back on your previous travel experiences, do you think you’ve learned a lot from each one? Those who get the travel bug end up learning, not just about other cultures, but about themselves. Many people want to vacation on a beach, relax, do water sports or hit the bars, and that is fine, but if you want to really travel, I recommend a travel expedition. Travel expeditions, in all of their various forms, can help you take a trip where you truly learn, not just about the destination, but about yourself. So, with that in mind, if you are looking for ways to improve your cultural palate, learn something new, or even rediscover something about yourself, what are the best ways to do it?
The Various Types Of Expeditions
Expeditions fall under various categories, but in a broad sense, they fall under the adventurous type, community-based type, or a scientific expedition. The adventurous expeditions are exactly what you think they are; they have a predominantly physical aspect so you have to be fit. They tend to have a beginning and end, for example, an expedition where you go kayaking. You start at a point in the river, and you end at a particular part of the river. These types of challenges are quite physical so if you are looking to, literally, flex your muscles, then this is a great way for you to do it. An adventurous expedition could be something that feels like a major ordeal, so be sure to check on the activity level of the trip. The same applies to hiking expeditions. There are so many stories about people who have wanted that challenge in life, especially when climbing mountains like K2 or Everest, but these are considerably tough objectives. Ask questions, because you need to be aware of what you are getting into!
Community based expeditions are for the benefit of communities, like education projects in rural countries. These expeditions aren’t as physical in nature, but can prove to be more of a psychological challenge. For example, if you are encountering people who are deprived in one way or another, it can have a devastating emotional impact on you. When I spent a day in Mozambique with the orphanage children on the beach, it really tore me up. Seeing the way people live in very poor environments can be very upsetting. Ask questions! Questions are necessary to really get the picture.
Scientific expeditions consist of various experiences, you can go to the polar ice caps, or you can examine the coral reefs in many parts of the world. I have done scientific expeditions where scuba diving skills are necessary. I’ve done fish counts, photo identifications, and behavioral studies. I’ve also taken expeditions where I am learning from experts, such as my trip to Antarctica. When choosing an expedition, it’s important to ensure that not only is the destination something you are interested in, but the people you end up working with are on your wavelength. There is nothing worse than going away for months at a time, with people you don’t really get along with! I have met so many people who share my passion on my expeditions that I feel I have found my tribe. It is always interesting to meet people from different cultures.
Taking The Nomadic Approach
An expedition doesn’t necessarily have to consist of an official experience, you can take it upon yourself to go and see the world on your own. Backpacking is one of the simplest ways to do this, but there are other ways as well. I have enjoyed solo travel and I think it would be a great experience for many people, but it’s important that you get detailed information about your destinations, and learn ways to look after yourself properly. When you travel solo, you are relying on your own initiative and skill to get you around. It can be tremendously empowering and sometimes a bit nerve wracking.
You can take the hostel approach, where you go from hostel to hostel, meeting fellow travelers and exchanging stories. Part of the reason to travel solo is so you can interact with different types of people. If you are interested in a nature trip, that can be a major undertaking, especially if you are looking to go camping or hiking. Luckily, for many travelers, there are numerous camping sites that ensure you can get a good night’s sleep and many amenities before you head back on the road, or on your trail. If you are camping it’s important for you to have an excessive reserve of supplies, and there are numerous guides online to help. The Best Backpacking Tents of 2018 is one such guide that can provide you with useful information on the most practical and durable tents for solo travelers. When embarking on any solo expedition, it’s imperative that you know exactly what you’re in for, and you have a thorough knowledge of the environment and the culture. You will learn as you go, but always err on the side of caution. When traveling by yourself you can throw off the shackles of your every day world, and look at things from a different perspective. Some people go traveling and end up never coming home! You might find a place where you think you belong, or where you’d like to stay for a while. When you are looking to discover who you are and what you want, it is helpful to appreciate what the world has to offer. Sometimes, this may open your eyes to what else is out there, or it may make you realize how lucky you are at home.
“Finding yourself” is one of those hippie terms that can be met with a raised eyebrow or two, but if you haven’t done much in the way of serious traveling, it’s a great way for you to figure out your place in the world. A lot of us don’t ever discover what we’re made of. Understanding your place in the world by going out and seeing what other cultures and locations have to offer is a tremendous learning experience.
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