There comes a time when the siren song of the city starts to sound a little like tinny elevator music. You’ve had your fill of good coffee and abstract art, and now you want something else. While getting off the beaten path can seem a little tricky, especially if there is a language barrier in the country you’ve traveled to, the resulting adventure will be more than worth it. Here’s why:
1. Breathe Fresh Air
The air gets pretty thick in the city. As city dwellers, we probably don’t notice it as much as we should. All the handy public transport that we love so much fills the air with some pretty noxious things. Getting out of the city is a great way to, literally, get some fresh air. Your lungs will start breathing easier as soon as the big buildings start to recede into lush green. All that plant life acts as a mega-filter for the air.
2. Eat Fresh Food
I’ve seen some incredible markets within the city limits. Many folks from afar come into town to sell their wares; however, a lot of the good stuff gets left behind, literally in the fields and on the trees. I have fond memories of eating wild cherries right of trees in the outskirts of Puebla Puebla, pulling rambutan off branches in the jungle highlands of Penang Malaysia and having my choice of carambola fruits at the end of a road (and up a pretty steep hill) in Costa Rica.
3. Notice the Little Things
With less transportation and fewer things to do, hitting up a little town begs us to slow down and notice the little things. Take a walk, ride a bike, sip coffee a little slower, take a deep breath, explore.
4. Meet Curious People
Traveling while brown has its ups and downs, especially when you get off the beaten path. While more of us are rockin’ our passports, it is still quite likely that people in small towns of the world have only seen brown people in music videos. While this has the potential to be unpleasant, I’ve found that I’ve had more people come up to me, eager to engage, when I get out of the city. It is often an opportunity for them to ask a lot of questions and show off their town to someone who looks different from them. I’ve been introduced to princesses, mamas and even pigs. I’ve met outspoken artists, 90 years old weavers and local shop owners who had the inside scoop on where to get the best fries. Each of these moments have enriched my travel experience.
5. Enjoy Nature
Having time to get back in touch with Mother Nature is beyond good for the soul. There’s nothing like lying in a hammock and listening to the sounds of the world or picking food fresh from outside. In truth, getting off the beaten path is a way to get in touch with the earth. You may find yourself at a lava flat at the end of the road in Hawaii or a tea field in the highlands of Malaysia. Wherever you go, be sure to take a deep breath, drink it in and lean back into the warm green embrace for a while.