From riding elephants in Thailand to art lessons in France, travelers are discovering that there are more enriching travel experiences to be found in foreign lands than the usual landmark tours and souvenir shops. Immersion travel allows tourists to live, work, play and dine with locals, and it is one of the hottest new travel trends.
Moving Beyond Staid Itineraries
From low-cost treks to eminently luxurious vacations, all budget levels relish immersion travel. A recent American Express survey revealed that 48 percent of travelers are looking for meaningful, insider experiences by immersing themselves in the destination’s culture, art, heritage and nature.
While many seek adventures that dovetail with their own personal hobbies, others set their sights on affairs that diverge from their normal lives. So, cooking classes and art lessons may give way to hiking across the Alps or volunteering to lead a scout camp for Nigerian children.
Immersion travel often involves open itineraries that encourage travelers to embrace unexpected events. Staying in villages that are off the beaten path and riding on local transportation also help travelers gain more intimate knowledge of the destination.
Immersion Travel on a Budget
With this new trend, globetrotters are learning what backpackers and “gap year” kids have known for years: living, working and playing alongside locals can lead to amazing adventures. Travelers don’t have to spend much to find unique travel experiences. Many check local newspaper listings for classes, volunteer for community projects in their destination town or sign up for “homestay” programs.
Dozens of tour companies are experts at coordinating unusual adventures. Offering everything from a St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl in Dublin to dinners with a family in Cappadocia and tai chi classes in Beijing, these tour businesses offer a wealth of opportunities.
Luxury Bespoke Travel
In the high-end travel vernacular, immersion travel is more commonly known as “bespoke” travel, and there are many bespoke agencies offering one-of-a-kind travel events. Luxury travels are varied, including helicopter rides to dine on the Great Wall, elephant handling lessons in Thailand and cruises of Vietnam’s Halong Bay aboard a private junk. With luxury travel experiences, even the sky is no limit.
For those who want to be adventurers rather than sightseers, the immersion travel trend is an outstanding way to find more enriching travel experiences that will be remembered and recounted for a lifetime.