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A Few Ways to Connect More Deeply with a Travel Destination

There are many reasons why people travel, ranging from a desire to get away from the stresses and concerns of normal everyday life, to a desire to spend time in the sun, take some good photos, and try some delicious food. For a very large proportion of all travelers, however, one of the most significant desires is to experience something new and to have a sense of connecting on a deeper level with a fascinating destination. If you find that your travel experiences haven’t exactly been giving you the sense of deep connection that you’ve been looking for, here are a few ways to connect more deeply with a travel destination.

Try your hand at participating directly in aspects of the local culture

Young travelling people having fun in city
Young travelling people having fun in city

One of the best ways of connecting more deeply with the local environment and culture of your travel destination, is to actively envelop yourself in it to the best of your ability – and an excellent way of doing that is to try your hand at things like cooking the local cuisine.

Even before heading away on your journey, you can look up cookware reviews, get a recipe book focused on the area you are planning to visit, and can then set about whipping up and eating the local dishes in order to connect yourself more viscerally and directly with some of the cultural traditions of the place. You can also listen to local music, watch films from the area, and more. In many ways, the culture of a country or region represents the “spirit” of that place – and so participating in that culture, even as an outsider, can help to connect you with it on a much deeper level.

If possible, arrange for a longer stay and immerse yourself in the culture and language

Traveling europe
Traveling europe

Many – if not most – vacations will tend to involve stays of just a few days – often ranging from something like a weekend getaway, to a couple of weeks spent in a particular locale. While these trips can be great, and have many of their own particular benefits, they typically don’t allow for a deeper immersion in the local environment, and a deeper sense of connection to it.

If you have the opportunity at some point in your life, it can be a very eye-opening experience to arrange for a longer stay in an area and to immerse yourself in the culture and language of the place. The famous entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, for example, has previously written about his habit of spending months in different locations while studying the local language.

If you know someone from the area, try to immerse yourself in the places where locals hang out, rather than the tourist centers.

People traveling
People traveling

One of the best ways of getting a “behind-the-scenes peek” into a travel destination, is to immerse yourself in the places where the locals hang out, rather than sticking exclusively to the tourist centers. Of course, this isn’t always possible – or necessarily advisable.  If you have a trusted friend or relative who is from the area, though, getting them to show you around in this more intimate way can really deepen your sense of connection to the place.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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