If I’ve learned anything over the past several years of constant travel, it’s that I have a very deep emotional connection to places I visit. And if you know me or have traveled with (ok, that’s pretty much just Nick), you’ll know that when I like a place, I really like it and form a deep bond with it. Like seriously, some places make me feel so deeply I have a hard time putting it into words. And while this deep emotion when you travel isn’t always easy for people to feel, it’s allowed me over the years to travel really deeply, even when I’m in a place for a short period of time. But the best part is, that even if that deep emotional connection to a place doesn’t come naturally for you, you can actually do a lot while travel to travel more deeply and allow yourself to find a deeper connection to travel and a destination than you normally would as just a tourist touching the surface. If you want to travel more deeply, here is the best way to find more emotional connection to the places you visit.
Learn the language
This is a sure way to go deeper when you travel and even if you can learn just a little bit of the local language, you’ll get further and deeper with this than perhaps anything else. The places I’ve been able to have short conversations in a local language with locals have brought me a much deeper connection than when you can’t communicate. From my broken Spanish conversation with our taxi driver in Cusco to broken French at a gas station in Provence to simply saying good morning in Korean to the local shop keepers on my walk to work while in Seoul, trying and making an effort to speak some of the local language will allow locals to welcome you in to the fold and allow you to see and travel more deeply in a place.
meet the locals
I always find it odd when people travel to a foreign place and just stay at the hotel. I get that sometimes you need a vacation, but why not venture out just a little bit and meet the locals? Why not try out seeing how someone lives where you are visiting, watching as the locals go about their days? Why not see some of the culture, watch the shop keepers opening up and ask them about their lives? Why not let the locals share their stories and connect with people on an emotional level?
don’t expect too much
Most of the time when I’m expecting too much of a place or have too many preconceived notions about a place, I’m left disappointed. Travel is all about learning, experiencing, growing. Take that to heart if you truly want to travel more deeply. Let a place be exactly what it is, no more, no less. Don’t try to make a destination into something it’s not. Take in the sights, the smells, the feelings and inhale them like air using that to connect you to the place.
skip (most of) the tourist attractions
I’ve never been a big fan of tourist attractions most places I visit and while yes, some I feel like you have to see at least once, mostly, I spend the majority of my time traveling wandering far away from the tourist areas. When in Paris, you’ll usually find me in some of the local neighborhoods and parks far away from the cameras of tourists trying to take pictures holding up the Eiffel Tower, in Tokyo you’ll find me in the local Ramen shops over the bright lights of Ginza. By skipping some of the tourist spots, you’ll get to see a deeper side of your destination and immerse yourself more deeply into the daily routine of the city or place you’re in. Let yourself wander, get lost, get away from the list of things your guide tells you to see and I promise, it will be so so much better.