The modern traveller is a discerning creature. When we visit new countries and cultures, we no longer want to simply sit by a pool and sunbathe (well, at least not all the time) - we want to experience the world at its finest. We want to return home with exciting stories and experiences that mean something and stay with us.
Seeking out the best experiences on your travels isn't always easy but there are some effective techniques - tried and tested ones - that will make finding those interesting, blood-pressure rising, original activities, easier...
Whether you’re travelling solo or with family or friends, if you’re looking for the most memorable experiences, the best place to start is simply to ask someone in the know.
A great place to begin is to seek the advice of an expert. It’s become commonplace, in almost any destination in the world, for professional local experts to offer their advisory services to travellers.
Many travel providers work with these individuals, and offer their services to their clients. From the luxury concierges provided by high-end travel clubs, to the friendly guide stationed in the hotel foyer, few people will be able to give you better advice on what to check out on your adventures.
For some authentic and immersive exploration, sometimes the best thing to do is to speak to local people. There’s no better way to get a genuine insight into the best local experiences, or to discover things off the beaten track, than simply to ask the people who live there.
Make sure to be respectful, and don’t bombard local residents with demands for tips, but try asking shopkeepers, servers in cafes and bars, or staff at your accommodation if they have anything in particular they’d recommend seeing. Just remember - if languages aren’t your strong suit, don’t forget a phrasebook!
One of the greatest advantages modern travellers have is the technology we can use to our advantage. We’re no longer restricted to simply cramming as much research in as we can find time for, then jetting off somewhere armed with nothing but a guidebook and crossed fingers; we now have almost constant access to the internet, and a wealth of ways to seek out the best travel experiences.
There are now apps that make almost any aspect of travel easier than ever before. With everything from checking flights to live-translating conversations with local people, apps provide a wealth of ways to make your travel experiences better - and they’re a fantastic way to find the best experiences.
If food is a high on your ‘to experience’ list, then an app like Zomato is pretty nifty: it gives a nice twist to the classic restaurant hunt, by letting you search for a specific local dish, and finding the best places to try it.
Apps like Localeur can offer you suggestions for things to do, all of which are provided by locals. And if you don’t fancy going it alone, Backpackr could help you meet up with fellow travellers to check out a fantastic local attraction.
While some of us will want to use our travels to get away from the constant connectivity of modern life, effective use of social media can be a brilliant way to source advice on incredible things to experience in your travels.
Simply searching for the place you’re staying on a platform like Instagram can throw up hundreds of images of things people have experienced there, and can be a great font of inspiration. Posting a query on Twitter, Facebook, or even any number of forums can also yield some great results - and you’ll often pick up a few insider tips along with suggestions for things to do.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The classic guidebook has been around in one form or another for quite literally hundreds of years, and it remains one of the most reliable ways to pick up some tips for almost any destination.
Whether it’s an encyclopaedic compendium with tips on everything from markets to puppet theatres, or a travel guide written by an individual about their personal experiences in foreign lands, guidebooks are a great place to seek out some of the best experiences (and kill a few hours on a long bus ride).
While visiting that much-photographed landmark, or checking out that exciting activity can be fantastic ways to spend time, the things that we don’t plan - the things that just happen - are often the most unforgettable.
Sometimes the only thing you need to do to find the best experiences on your travels might seem like the least intuitive. Don’t make any decisions at all, and simply explore without any plan.
Organised events and experiences are great, but often the very best food, art, and culture is unknown to the great travelling public, and the only chance you’ll have of finding it is simply by stumbling across it.
Take a walk in an area of town you know nothing about, or hop on a bus or train with no idea where it’s headed. You should always be careful to remain safe of course, and don’t do anything too foolhardy or risky, but sometimes letting go a little bit is a great choice. You’ll come home with memories and stories that no-one will be able to compete with.