Interest in travel is picking up amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, which signifies that people are starting to look forward to the world reopening. While the travel industry is not going to be the same for a few years, it’s safe to say that people will take their much-needed holidays across the world when travel restrictions are lifted.
Travel has become ingrained in modern life, as well as a universal pastime of some sort. So wherever you are in the world, you’re probably already dreaming up your first post-pandemic vacation.
But since it’s been more than a year since we last planned trips without any restrictions, you’d want your trip to be special and exciting, something better than staying at hotels, hiring private cars, and visiting tourist spots.
So if you’re looking to get inspired, you can learn about these underrated, alternative ways of exploring a country and immersing in its culture, people, and natural wonders.
End-to-end walking tours
If you end up in a massive landmass of a country like Australia, India, Chile, or Canada, a walking tour that stretches for days might seem too daunting. But once you’re there, you definitely won’t regret it. A 14-day Larapinta end-to-end tour, for example, will allow you to explore the rugged and beautiful landscapes and seascapes of the Northern Territory. It’s much like hiking through cross-country trails but at a more comfortable and immersive pace.
If you want to mix leisure travel with some small act of charity, you can try volunteering for causes you believe in. From delivering pencils and books to remote towns in Africa to planting trees in Indonesia, there are plenty of causes and organizations that will allow you to explore a country while at the same time doing good work.
Wwoofing, derived from the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), allows you to live on a recognized organic farm anywhere in the world and be a helping hand in exchange for free food and accommodation. It’s a bit similar to doing seasonal farm work, but with more opportunities to explore the host country and immerse in its culture. Plus, you’ll get to meet like-minded folk.
Taking scenic train rides
Nowadays, people are less interested in slow travel because they want to get to their destination as fast as they can and squeeze in as many tourist spots and activities as possible. But if you have a more flexible itinerary and wish to see more places a country has to offer, consider taking a scenic train ride. The most popular routes include the dramatic Trans-Mongolian Railway, which starts in China and ends in Russia, and the show-stopping Glacier Express in Switzerland.
If you like cycling as a workout, then you’ll definitely love a cross-country cycling tour. But keep in mind that this is not for the faint of heart. Cycling long distances can be excruciating, but it can be the best trip of their lives for some people. Just make sure you’ve got the right gear and mindset for it.
Yoga and meditation retreats
Some people opt for adrenaline-pumping holidays, while some yearn for peace and relaxation. If you subscribe to the latter, you might want to consider a yoga and meditation retreat in the middle of nowhere. Everyone deserves a wellness break after the pandemic!
Teaching language abroad
Do you happen to know another language other than your native tongue? Then you can try applying for teaching jobs abroad. Teaching language abroad is a great way to truly immerse in that country’s culture and make meaningful friendships along the way. Plus, you’ll be making money, too!
Crew a yacht
Are you one for exploring the open ocean? Then crewing a yacht can be a memorable and immersive experience for you. Private yacht tours are intimate and less stressful than cruises, so you’ll have the time and energy to enjoy the trip and take in the sun and views.
Become a diving instructor
Being a certified SCUBA diver means you can dive practically anywhere, but having a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor license gives you the freedom to explore the world’s underwater scene, all while getting paid.
Travel with a caravan
Want to explore a country without a plan and away from modern life? You can hire a caravan and go wherever you like and at your own pace. With a caravan, you can sleep comfortably and safely, cook your own meals, and reach remote places with ease.
There are thousands of festivals around the world, and they all offer an opportunity to see a town or city come together, be merry, and observe traditions. It’s also a great way to meet interesting people and explore a place from the point of view of locals.