Dubbed the “experience-collecting” generation, more and more young people are beginning to prioritise travel in their life. After all, a great way to unwind and refresh is soul is by experiencing new things. What’s nice to see is the growing trend of unconventional travel. While vacationing in Bali or Paris is always fun, there’s a certain charm in taking the road less travelled, heading to the least photographed places. Spend an afternoon of carving your own boomerang, or learn to cook food to feed a village; the real and down-to-earth stuff.
Although going on organised tours can be fun and are usually worry-free trips, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about wandering around a new town without a rigid guide. Using a map (or Google Maps, let’s be honest), asking the locals, or taking wild guesses at choosing where to go – it’s exciting. It’s the beauty of spontaneity, taking a risk to be uncomfortable and lost, looking forward to the rewarding experience at the end. Take a look at these unconventional travel options before you plan your next adventure, and Godspeed.
Surprises can be the best gifts when done right. But when it comes to traveling, would you leave your entire trip’s plans in somebody else’s hands? Well, srprs.me challenges you to let go completely. The surprise trips-planning company takes the reins from you and plans your accommodation, flights, and destination. The service is only available in Europe for now, but check out the cool concept.
It starts with you choosing your departure airport and number of travelers. Then, you get to list down three cities you definitely don’t want to visit so it wouldn’t be an unpleasant surprise. Next, you key in your dates and accommodation preferences (hotel or hostel) and leave the rest to your dedicated srprs.consultant. Seven days before you fly, you’ll be sent the weather forecast of your surprise destination to help you pack appropriately. And just a few days later, a scratchcard will be mailed to you containing a code to unlock your destination. Choose to find out on the spot, or wait until you get to the airport for your flight. Then, it’s just about going with the surprise flow!
Updated 26 February 2018: There is another company with the same concept called Anywhr that departs from Singapore.
2. Gap Year
For those of us who didn’t take a gap year between studying and working, now’s our chance. Gap Year is a social network and travel advice website that sets you up for taking a gap year right now. We like that there’s a practical choice whether to volunteer or do paid work during the trip. There are different trips you can choose, depending on which part of the world and what you’d like to explore.
The Gap Year team can help with any visas, flights, volunteering, jobs, transport, tours, accommodation, or just some good ol’ fashioned advice for your year away. There is the option of completely customising your journey, otherwise you could also take a pick from some of their packages. We’re particularly interested in the RTW (round the world) section! All flights depart from the UK as displayed on their site, but get in touch with the team to see if you can start your journey from wherever you are.
3. Volunteer Travel
What better way to experience a new place, than to contribute towards the local development alongside its community? Projects Abroad is a volunteering organisation that features projects in over 50 countries. These range from roles for skilled professionals to group trips abroad for people over 50 years old. A pretty cool feature of the site, is how the different opportunities are sorted by age range. So there are trips tailored for 12 – 15 year olds, teens, gap years, university students, those above 19 years, and those above 50 years.
If you are a skilled professional who also needs to make money concurrent with your trip, they have some good options. Choose from their flexible duration options of two weeks up to several months, depending on your agenda and budget. For persons over 50 years, ring together some friends and embark on a two weeks-long volunteer adventure. There are projects ranging from running teaching programmes in Nepal and assisting shark research activities in Fiji, to agriculture help in Phnom Penh.
Another site that caught our eye: globalworkandtravel.com
4. Loka Local
Visiting museums and doing online research might help you better understand the local culture, but the best way is to experience it yourself. Loka Local is a Malaysian platform that connects travelers to locals who are willing to share a piece of their culture. Besides being an amazing site to browse and book local experiences, it also helps empower the local community in the form of additional income.
For example, some interesting experiences in the KL include an architecture and food tour around old KL, a Malaysian Indian cuisine cooking class, and an art gallery crawl. Venture further to the edges of the peninsula for more nature-related experiences like a sea turtle conservation holiday or a mountain hiking adventure. You could even go through a crash course on wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre) in Kelantan, learn how to carve wood in Johor, or hunt down the elusive Rafflesia flower.
We hope you feel inspired to try out any of these unconventional travel options! Some key points to remember when traveling – be humble and willing to learn, try everything once (nothing illegal of course), and be open to change, especially when plans don’t work out. To adventure!
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