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How You Can Broaden Your Horizons with Travel

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How You Can Broaden Your Horizons with Travel

Instead of just sitting on some tropical beach and sipping pina coladas during your vacations, it is very possible to get a ton of personal growth from your travels. But in order to do this, you will have to get off those all-inclusive beach resorts and five-star hotels. Although there might be some exceptions, most of these resorts will be too comfortable — unless there are some attractions nearby that offer some type of personal growth opportunities.

Even so, the reality is that the majority of tourists who stay at all-inclusive resorts will never go off site during their entire vacations. If you want to go to the most rewarding travel destinations offering the most personal growth, you have to steer clear of the places that are too “touristy” and aimed for the masses. You have to find less-traveled locations where you may not have the comforts and conveniences of luxury travel.

Direct Interaction With The Locals

One of the best travel experiences comes from direct interaction with the locals. Many Canadians and Europeans have been vacationing in Cuba for years and despite the US travel embargo, there are American tourists who travel there with official special permission as well — and by using other indirect routes from time to time.

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As expected, the vast majority of tourists stay at new all-inclusive beach resorts. The only Cubans they will see during their entire stay are the resort staff and those at the airport. These tourists will never leave the resorts to see the real lives of Cubans in their own local communities.

When I was down there, I chose to stay for part of my trip at a casa particular. These are rooms at homes that average Cubans rent out to travelers. I ended up getting a full apartment in Havana. Although it was not a five-star luxury suite, it was clean, safe and comfortable.

Instead of eating at tourist restaurants, the family who owned the casa particular prepared home-cooked meals for me. Through my rusty, basic Spanish, I got to interact with the family and see how average Cubans really live. They told me about Cuban life while I entertained them with some facts about life in my own country, Canada (especially our winters).

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The personal growth I got out of this interaction with the family was priceless. One just cannot get this by staying at a five-star resort. Not to mention that staying at a casa particular with the home-cooked meals was actually less than 50% of the cost of staying at the resorts and hotels. I was providing some much needed income for the Cuban family as well, which made it even more worthwhile.

Get Further Away From Tourist Spots

During this same trip, I also decided to venture out further. I got private transportation and traveled five hours west of Havana to a remote location that was a recognized biosphere called Maria La Gorda. Here, I scuba dived in pristine waters untouched by the tourist crowds. Sure, the transit was a bit rough, but going to places like this really broadened my horizons.

The trip along the way was also an experience in itself as I got to interact with my local Cuban taxi driver one-on-one for the entire ride. He pointed out interesting things along the way, told me about Cuban baseball, discussed classic American cars that are still running on the island and how his family dealt with hurricanes.

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You just can’t get any of these experiences by staying at an all-inclusive resort.

Do Your Advance Travel Research

Of course, instead of having everything catered to you as in an all-inclusive resort, you have to figure out where to stay, where to eat, where to travel and how to get around and some safety precautions. All of such information is available if you spend enough time doing advance travel research.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of information that you can access online via travel forums, travel reports and even social media including YouTube (I uploaded a few Cuban travel videos you can search there as my contribution). You can also get information from travel agencies that deal with adventure or specialized travel and from consulates from destination countries.

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Travel away from the tourist resorts does take more planning and you may have to rough it out a bit. I have taken similar trips in Asia, Central America and Europe. But the direct interaction and connections you make with people from other cultures as well as experiencing special destinations that the tourist masses will never see, make such travel incredibly worthwhile.

If you have or plan to travel to special places to broaden your horizons as well, please feel free to share below.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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