5 ways to have a meaningful travel experience in cities

The freedom that comes with long term travel is very much achievable in cities across the world from Lisbon to London, Paris to Sydney.

Meaningful travel, what is it? Some believe meaningful travel is a way to enrich your own life, while others see it as a form of helping to develop the lives of others.

For us it is subjective to the person travelling. Yes there is ecotourism, voluntary programmes and educational travel but finding meaning in your travel journey is not fixed to exotic destinations, deserts or dangerous terrain.

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You too, yes you, can truly experience a city break slowly and more mindfully, and here is how:

  1. Transport

How often do you wander aimlessly through cities? Instead of catching a taxi or taking the train, walk. Wake up early to see the sunrise, walk through residential streets and observe everyday life – truly take in the local sights, sounds and smells before watching sunset from a rooftop bar. You’ll gain a far more authentic experience by exploring the city on foot!

2. Embrace the locale 

Sometimes the best meals are not made in restaurants, they’re the local delicacies snapped up for a few pounds from a food truck or homemade dishes bought from a market. Set yourself the challenge of sampling one new dish a day and see how much variety you take away from the trip! You could even book a cooking lesson with a restaurant and learn how to cook culinary delights famous to the region.

3. Record your memories

Put your phone away! I know it’s hard but occasionally a digital detox is needed. Instead of uploading photos straight away to Facebook, find a few postcards for friends and family and give them a genuine insight into your experience. It’s unexpected and a welcome change – they’ll love it!

4. Volunteer

Skip long queues to tourist attractions and visit a local animal rescue centre, social enterprise, school or charitable organisation for a day. It’s far more rewarding and a great way to understand what everyday life is like for residents in the city. Research beforehand and find an organisation close to your heart!

5. Keep an open mind

It’s so easy to schedule far too many things to do and see in a city break but keep an open mind to spontaneity. Ask your taxi driver or the hotel receptionist for recommendations off the beaten track or visit the city library for inspiration on hidden gems. So many cities now offer free yoga classes in local parks or sunset meditation sessions which are fantastic for starting and ending your day mindfully! Shop in independent stores, discover what the local trade is and learn how it is produced. Above all really listen to the people you meet – you’ll be amazed at how much you learn by simply watching, listening and observing!

Click here to browse our selection of inspiring city breaks.


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