When it comes to travel, folks can choose between two types of destinations: a place they know and a place they don't. While there's something to be said for visiting familiar cities and towns - especially if you own a vacation home or your relatives live there - there's something special about packing your bags and heading off to a place you've never visited before.
Stepping out into strange cities and countryside is the essence of international travel. The experience is thrilling, the discoveries are awe-inspiring, and the memories last a lifetime. With this in mind, let's take a look at five points that highlight the excitement of exploring unfamiliar places:
This one goes out to all the folks who love to poke into antique shops and hole-in-the-wall bodegas. Visiting a strange city lets you go on an impromptu treasure hunting adventure by giving you the chance to stumble upon them as you explore. Whether it's antique rings, old paintings, or trinkets you won't find anywhere else, the treasures you buy can be given as gifts or kept as souvenirs. Regardless, the thrill of the hunt will be its own reward.
Discovery around every corner
What's more exciting than turning a corner without knowing what you'll see? Even if you feel adequately prepared by consulting Google Maps, nothing beats the thrill of visiting landmarks and landscapes in person. Perhaps you stumble across a pretty little park across the street from a food market and have an impromptu picnic, or spot an imposing statue of a local hero and feel compelled to take a picture where you match his triumphant pose? You'll never know until you go!
A dash of danger
We face certain risks in life every day, and vacation is no different. An acceptable dash of danger adds an unmistakable thrill to any travel adventure. Will I get lost? Are there going to be scam artists preying on tourists? Is that old bridge going to collapse when I walk across? While nobody should ever do anything that makes them feel genuinely afraid for their safety, the dash of danger associated with exotic travel is no different than the perceived danger of riding a rollercoaster. It seems scarier than it is, and that's part of the fun!
Learn as you go
There's a lot you can learn from travel books and television shows, but it doesn't come close to what you can uncover about a place by experiencing it up close. The best way to get a real glimpse is to see for yourself and not base your opinion on what someone else is saying. What's more, unfettered exploration lets you see the parts of a place that often get swept under the rug when the city or town presents itself to outsiders. For instance, there's more to Paris than just museums and landmarks, but you might not know that if all you ever do is go from one tourist hotspot to another.
Most travelers these days - especially the younger ones - put a heavy premium on the authenticity of the experience. They don't want to see the world through the lens of a tour guide or by following a painted path on the street going from one landmark to another. To get an authentic experience, you need to step outside your comfort zone and take a leap of faith. That way, you aren't getting the whitewashed version of a one-of-a-kind life experience.
Every year, millions of people around the world choose to travel to an unfamiliar place. They're driven by the allure of the destination, as well as the thrill and excitement of exploration. It's human nature to explore, but it's equally in our blood to be afraid. The two go hand-in-hand, and so long as you're keeping your wits and paying attention to your surroundings, that's fine. In fact, it's ideal.
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