You’re probably tired of hearing this travel buzzword, but bear with us for a minute. First of all, what does off the beaten track actually mean to you? For some, it could be traveling to world famous destinations but forgoing iconic landmarks in favour of searching for hidden shops and hole-in-the-wall bars or chasing after whispers of locally-loved restaurants not mentioned in any guidebooks.
For others, it could be scrapping popular vacation spots completely and hunting down the most secret, isolated places that could very well land you right smack in the middle of nowhere – miles away from any annoying traveler and ridiculously expensive tourist rip-offs.
Whichever way you choose – despite transport inefficiencies, language barriers and any other obstacles you might encounter – you’ll often discover an enriching experience waiting for you when you venture away from the footsteps of others and pave your own way.
Here are 5 reasons why you should veer off the well-trodden path.
#1 YOU WILL TRULY IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE LOCAL CULTURE
Locals who live near typical tourist locations are often immune to the swarms of chattering (and at times, ignorant) travelers, sometimes going out of their way to avoid getting too near to tourist traps. And restaurants, bars and cafes around these places have evolved to cater to a mostly tourist crowd, which means you’ll experience less authenticity and more of a watered-down version of the local culture and tradition.
To really delve deep into a country’s heritage, journey away from big cities to small towns (that are often overlooked) – locals here tend to be friendlier, which makes it easier to connect with them, and you can head into the local coffee shop to get a guide of the area from the experts themselves.
#2 YOU WILL RETURN RELAXED AND REJUVENATED
Of course, there’s plenty that can go wrong when you stray away from the five-star hotels and touristy spots that are engineered to accommodate groups of rowdy tourists. But you’ll also get to experience a slower pace of life that’s quite calming and soothing in itself.
Turn up for local events, enjoy Mother Nature with hikes or fishing trips, or just put on your most comfy pair of walking shoes and explore your surroundings. It’s less stressful, knowing you won’t have to deal with a tour group every few steps, and more peaceful and private, as these relatively untouched places still retain much of their natural beauty without the ugly stamp of trash left behind by tourists.
#3 YOU WILL GET MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
It’s no secret that a trip to popular cities like Paris, London, Sydney and Tokyo can burn a hole in your wallet. These destinations are popular, and they know it; they can charge whatever they want, and the crowds will still come flocking. But when you travel to lesser-known regions, many attractions have small businesses that offer more attractive prices and discounts; plus, you don’t get as much competition when you’re trying to book lodging and activities, and you can even try out B&Bs and private home rentals for a more unique stay.
#4 YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF CHALLENGED IN MANY WAYS
Vacations are for relaxing, sure. But sometimes it’s nice to engage in a challenge instead of spending all day mindlessly lounging by the pool. Chow down on bizarre, never-before-seen dishes, or try and make your way through the area while reading signs in another language – speaking of that, you’ll also have to learn a few basic sentences of the native language (if they don’t speak English or your mother tongue). It’s tough to pick it up in just a few days or weeks, but the locals will sure appreciate your effort (and maybe throw in a few freebies for you at the shops).
#5 YOU WILL BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY UNPLUG FROM THE WORLD
If you’re looking for an escape, this is the best way to do it. Small towns, secluded beaches and tiny communities may not have the best amenities when it comes to internet and electricity, which may sound like a nightmare right now, but it could turn out to be a good thing. Nothing feels better than disconnecting from the worries and stresses of life and genuinely living in the moment, floating off on your travels without a single care in the world.
About the writer:
Alicia Lee is a dessert junkie with a serious (and probably incurable) case of wanderlust. Never one to pass up on retail therapy, she loves a great bargain and can usually be spotted on weekends browsing through quirky shops or chillaxing at a quiet cafe.