It’s all too easy to flick through a couple of websites, find a hotel close to the beach with a good pool and book it. Including flights and often all of your dining, a package holiday is an effective way of achieving the ultimate relaxing getaway to sunnier climes. However, the chances are once you are there, you will venture away from the complex very little, retreat into the security of the tourist community and race to put your towel on the most sought-after sunbed in the morning. If you hanker after an experience that is a tad more authentic and fancy immersing yourself in a new culture when on your travels, it’s time to ditch the package holiday for a wholly different style of holiday.
Don’t think that by foregoing the luxury and convenience of a package holiday that you are in some way forfeiting relaxation. Vacations like small ship cruises pride themselves on offering tranquil and peaceful trips island hopping on the Aegean Sea or cruising around the Dalmatian Coast. When you disembark from your mega yacht, you can enjoy meeting the locals, eating authentic cuisine and touring off the beaten track. Being on a cruise means that you can relax complete with a pool and lounge on the deck in the same way as you would on your package holiday. Dining is first class, and you can feel more confident in venturing to those destinations where fewer tourists set foot.
For the ultimate, authentic experience that’s a tad more rough and ready, backpacking is the way to go. If you’ve never embarked on this sort of travel experience before you may be in for a culture shock but this should be mitigated by the freedom and joy of travelling at your own pace, seeing multiple destinations in one trip abroad and meeting a whole host of like-minded, friendly travellers. You could head off to the traditional destinations of Thailand, India or South America to get your wanderlust kicks. Backpacking means spending time in hostels, seeing your money stretch further and spending time immersing yourself into the heart of a community. The experience is life-affirming and is one that everyone should take at least once in their lives.
If you want to make a difference to a community and contribute your skills and time to a good cause, a volunteering holiday could be for you. If you are a dab hand with a set of tools or if you are an administrative whizz, you could aid in the building of a school in Uganda or help a charity function in Botswana. Here, you will be working alongside locals, learning their customs and enjoying their company and a truly authentic experience.
Heading on holiday doesn’t have to mean a fortnight in a Costa or ten days on a Canary island. Take a step back and think about what it is that you want to gain from your experience away from home and plan your vacation around this aim whether it’s an authentic cruise, a backpacking jaunt or a volunteering holiday. The world is your oyster.