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Enriching Travel and Making the Most of Your Time Abroad

9 August 2012 No Comment

It’s all very well lazing on a beach but sometimes you want to get more out of your experience. There’s a wealth of opportunities out there. All you need to do is work out which of these memory creating adventures is right for you.

Engage with your destination

The very best travel experiences are usually the ones in which you have the opportunity to engage with the area you’re travelling in. It’s not enough to see the tourist traps and drink and eat at the same franchises you’d use at home. It’s much better to really participate in the life of the country and try to understand it a bit better, broadening your mind and your skills on the way. One popular way of achieving this is via gap year work, which can be paid or voluntary. There are packages out there that combine paid work with guided tours and plenty of free time, helping you make the most of the time you have and really appreciate the country from a variety of viewpoints – tourist, worker, explorer and partygoer!

One package company, for example, takes gap year students to Thailand and shows them the most amazing parts of the country, including the best tourist sights. They also set up volunteer work, either helping in orphanages or teaching English in schools. It also gives a chance to meet indigenous groups in order to understand their culture better through personal experience plus the once in a lifetime experience of a full moon party.

If packages aren’t your cup of tea, there’s always backpacking across a country and working to pay your way, though the work you pick up this way can be less fulfilling. There are so many ways to get a real glimpse into another culture whilst developing skills that will serve you in the future.

Give more than you take

One way of getting the most out of another country is volunteering, perhaps helping to build a school or maybe teaching for a while. You could make a real difference to lives or a cause whilst you enjoy a different culture, changing your own life and priorities in the process. There is a good deal of information available on how to volunteer abroad and specialist websites will give you plenty of information on staying safe, making the most of your time and where your efforts are most needed.

Opportunities exist to help with a massive diversity of projects. Conservation work in Australia, for instance, is hugely popular. Who could resist the idea of helping species in difficulties and getting up close to koalas and kangaroos? Alternatively, there is teaching English in countries like France, Thailand, Uganda, Ecuador and many others. You could stay with a Nepali family and help with community projects whilst experiencing Nepal’s fascinating culture up close. The perspective you can gain from these experiences is invaluable and the difference you can make to the communities or projects you’re involved with can’t be quantified.

Anyone can just travel abroad. Really engaging with a culture, however, is an enriching experience that can change you and the world for the better, giving you amazing memories to carry for the rest of your life. Participating closely in another culture broadens the mind and helps us see our own culture more clearly. There’s always next year to sit at the edge of a pool, after all!

Author Box
Adriana is a regular travel writer for a range of blogs and websites, writing about how to volunteer abroad and about gap year work. She loves koalas, backpacking and hiking.

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