My family has been blessed to be able to travel all around the world visiting destinations and trying experiences off-the-beaten-path. We have always viewed travel as an experience to immerse yourself in new cultures and learn as much as you can about the people and places different than you; something you don’t experience on a daily basis; something that teaches you a new perspective. For us, getting lost is not an inconvenience, but an opportunity.
Off the beaten path: Getting lost
One of my favorite things about traveling off the beaten path is learning about different cultures and what makes each culture unique, whether it’s their history, food, fashion, architecture, etc; there is always much to explore and most people don’t even scratch the surface.
As I mentioned previously, getting lost is key in our travels, it’s truly the best way to see the city through the eyes of the locals. You wind up in places you would never have found and meet people with truly amazing stories to share. The first time I went to Paris, we ended up walking for hours in the wrong direction and it was one of the best things that could have happened to us. I found beautiful side streets, delicious crepe stands, my favorite chocolate shop and I stumbled upon one of my favorite boutiques, that I still frequent to this day. If it weren’t for taking a wrong turn, I never would have found all of these amazing places, cobblestone side alleys, and people, thus coming up with the idea for Chloe Johnston Experiences.
When visiting a new city, it’s easy to stay within your comfort zone and use Uber and taxis to get around, I find that walking and using public transportation, not only is more cost-effective, but also allows you to really learn about a city as you immerse yourself in the everyday hustle and bustle of your surroundings. Europe has an amazing public transportation system and Go Euro is an easy app to help you navigate your way throughout the city.
Off the beaten path: Stick with the locals
When traveling off the beaten path the best way to immerse yourself in the culture is by experiencing it with a local.
When we traveled to Bali, we worked with one of our partners who has lived there for years, to help us plan our itinerary. Everything we did was off the tourist trail and truly gave us an insight into the Bali mindset, which I can say, is truly amazing. One morning a gentleman welcomed us into his home and taught us how to do traditional Batik (below) painting. He had food, drinks, and really treated us like one of the family. It was nothing like anything I have ever done and our paintings are something we will always look to and remember the experience we had that day. I can’t name just one thing that made that trip stand out, but I can say having a local on our side ensured we did everything without an American in sight.
Off the beaten path: Influences of Culture
Traveling off the beaten path has opened my eyes to a world I would never have known. Traveling makes you more aware of your surroundings. The way that others live helps you grow as a person and broadens your perspective. One example of this is how important family is to the Chinese, the way they respect their elders was just a small reminder of how truly important it is.
As many people know, food is a big part of the Italian culture. Big family dinners, surrounded by delicious food, great company, and of course amazing wine! It is a small reminder to appreciate your family and to disconnect from the digital world and really experience life.
Sadly, a lot of people believe that Parisians are stuck up and have a distaste for Americans, this is of course completely untrue. The Parisians that I’ve befriended have been some of the most loyal people I’ve ever met.
Everywhere I’ve been, parts of each culture have stuck with me and I have figured out a way to incorporate them into my everyday life. It’s important to see life from a global perspective. One of the most important things travel offers you is the opportunity to grow as a person. If you are able to go in with an open mind and create your own opinions, you leave enriched and ready for your next adventure.
Travel is very personal, it’s about what you put into the journey. Find things that interest you and let that guide you to your destination.