Traveling is all about having fun, it’s about seeing new things, explore new cultures and try out new food. When we travel, we tend to overplan just because we want to see and do everything. But if you’re going to backpack for a few months, it won’t be sustainable to travel this intensely. After a while, our bodies burn out and we won’t even enjoy looking at all the sights anymore. Have you ever been on a weekend trip somewhere and you’ve pinned all the “must see” places? Then you’ve forced yourself to go visit all of them and at the end of the day, you feel completely exhausted. Now imagine doing that for months. Although traveling IS about enjoying all the new things in a different country, our bodies and mind need to relax sometimes too. And there’s more to traveling than to constantly chase the most popular sights. Here are the most underrated things to do while traveling (and how that can at times be more enjoyable than running around town).
Going to the cinemas
After three months of traveling intensely, I was longing for some alone time. I wanted to just sit down and unwind. But it’s not the easiest thing when your hostel is full of people who are constantly trying to get you drunk. So I thought of the things I enjoyed doing at home and I came up with the idea of going to the cinema. Alone. For me, it felt a bit strange in the beginning. I didn’t want to come across as a person who “didn’t have friends”, but I was desperate to just be by my own. So I went to the cinemas by myself and ever since then, I’ve started to do it more frequently. You might think “why should I go to the cinema abroad when I can do it at home?”. Well, if you’re from northern European country like I am, you’ll know how expensive it is. When I was in Southeast Asia, going to the movies cost me about 2 USD. Going to the cinema allows you to just escape your environment for a few hours, it allows you to have some alone time and who doesn’t love to go to the cinemas any way?
Backpacking these days is all about staying in hostels. It’s cheap, you’ll meet tons of other travelers and it’s easy. But if you get the chance to camp, do it! Even if you’re traveling in Southeast Asia for example, where there’s tons of hostels to go to. Just find a beautiful spot where you’re allowed to camp and escape the hostel life for a while.
Lay in bed
This might sound strange because you don’t want to waste your time traveling just laying in bed, right? But as was stated above, when we travel for a long time, it’s normal to get burnt out. A lot of the travelers I’ve met on the road felt exhausted and wished they could just rest, but they couldn’t because they had to go from point A to B or they had to see something. But if you want to make sure that you get the best experience while traveling, your body and mind needs to rest from time to time. If you just walk around feeling exhausted, it won’t be a fun trip for you. It’s okay to lay in bed for one full day, just like we do at home sometimes. Besides, laying in bed and watching tv shows doesn’t sound too bad, right?
Couchsurfing is an excellent platform where you can either be hosted by locals or other travelers in their home, or the other way around. It’s completely for free so if you’re traveling on a tighter budget, it’s even better for you. Couchsurfing is mostly used for meeting locals though and to get a glimpse into their lives. When we stay in hostels or hotels, we don’t really get to see the “real” side. But when we actually live with a local who can, by the way, give you the best tips about where to go and what to see, we also get to know a country much better. So if you have the chance, try to couchsurf a few times on your trip. You might get a few friends along the way.
Go to lesser known towns or cities
It’s easy to get stuck in the “backpacker route” because it’s so much easier to go somewhere that’s more tourist friendly. But don’t be scared to take the lesser traveled path. Look on the map, find a smaller city or town and see what’s there. There’s been many times when I’ve done this and been pleasantly surprised by the places. Many times, I’ve preferred these off the beaten path cities rather than the bigger ones.
Stay in one place for a longer time
Slow traveling is on the rise. People are starting to get tired of traveling in a rushed way and are seeking a more authentic experience. Most travelers tend to stay in one place for about 2-4 days and then leave straight away to another city. But you have to admit that you will probably not get to know the true side of the city during these short days. If you find a place that you like, why not try to volunteer there for a few weeks. Get to know the city, get to know the locals and find your favorite coffee place. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it so much that you’ll even move there.