We travel to discover new things — about ourselves and about the world around us. Immersive travel allows us to dive headfirst into the experiences that allow us to do just that, and so much more.
While some travel styles involve dipping a toe in the pool of a new culture, immersive travel means just what it sounds like — being completely surrounded with the newness of an unfamiliar place. The immersive traveler comes in contact with unfamiliar sights, sounds, sensations, flavors, and challenges that are unlike anything they’ve known before.
So let’s dive in to the benefits of immersive travel. The benefits to expanding our understanding of the world and experiencing new things are endless, but here are a few that stand out.
1. Learn a new language
You can study for years in a classroom, but there is nothing like an immersive travel experience for absorbing a new language.
When you travel deeper, you abandon the comforts of your own culture, for the exposure of another one. This type of experience forces you senses to heighten. You notice things you wouldn’t have seen at home. You smell foods you’ve never tasted. And of course, amidst all of the other sensory input, you hear words you don’t understand.
Through immersive travel, we want to understand! So we try a little harder to listen. We write down the words we hear, again and again. We carry a dictionary, and attempt to speak the language, even if our words come out wrong.
When we become the person speaking a foreign language, we must put extra effort into adapting, and this forces us to pay attention, listen, and learn.
Picking up on a new language can be as simple as attempting to order coffee for the first time. Translation apps on your phone can help you look up the words you need. And of course, there’s always the trusted translation dictionaries.
For a more intensive language experience, you can take a class, or volunteer at a school where the students will speak the local language. Teaching English is a great way to pick up on the language of the people you’re teaching. Even though you’ll be focused on a language you know, you’ll be surrounded by one that is unfamiliar.
Whether you want to hone the language skills you learned in school, or expose yourself to an entirely new one, immersive travel is an excellent way to do so.
2. Meet the local people
While it’s wonderful to meet fellow travelers on the road — sharing stories from our trips and comparing notes on where we’re heading next — we rob ourselves of a very special experience when we fail to interact with the local community.
Immersive travelers know better. When the immersive traveler enters a new place, they want to learn about all of it. The best resource for learning about the place is of course, the people who call that place home.
While so much of travel is dictated by large companies selling prepackaged experiences, immersive travel allows us to go to the source. We meet the local shop owners, the neighbors at the market, and people passing on the street. Of course, these experiences won’t just happen. We have to put ourselves out there.
Consider how much you enjoy sharing the place you call home with newcomers. If a friend comes to visit from out of town, it’s always exciting to show them the places you frequent and the hidden spots that visitors wouldn’t otherwise find.
People are proud of where they’re from, and they inherently want to share it with others. Immersive travel allows us to connect with those people and really experience a place, through the eyes of those who love it.