Do you love movies? Have you seen those Hollywood Blockbusters where the main characters walk through jungles, hacking away forest outgrowths with a machete? Those are the best adventure scenes ever, and that’s exactly what it means to travel off the beaten path.
Create your own adventure through “jungles” and unexplored places, as you discover off the beaten path travel destinations.
How To Veer Away From the Usual Tourism Routes?
It takes a lot of creativity and a sense of adventure to get it done. People who are creative hate following a straight line.
If you are of these adventurous souls, you can’t be content staying on the road where everyone else is on.
Take a look at how backpackers do it. They neither book holiday packages nor stay with the crowd. Backpackers and expert travelers stay away from tourist hubs to be able to do things that locals do.
For example, they engage in volunteer work – saving forests, building homes, or rescuing endangered species. In doing so, they see real-life needs and live within a local community. This is definitely something out of the ordinary, something off the beaten track.
Engaging in volunteer work doesn’t always mean saving the world. It can be fun, too. Perhaps you can stay within a community in exchange for your service. Maybe you can help milk a goat, pick tea, or laundry their clothes down the river.
All you need is a dash of bravery, an ounce of curiosity, and a willingness to try what not many want to try; to go where travel books and holiday maps tell you not to go; to grab a proverbial machete and start hacking away.
The first and perhaps the biggest step to take away from the beaten path is to not book a hotel room. When you think about travel and tourism, almost always you think about hotels.
Offbeat vacations mean refusing the comfort of a hotel and staying close with locals by booking your stay in hostels or Airbnb. Or perhaps you can stay in someone’s home and be a helping hand around the house.
Why should you do it? Why not stay with the crowd and enjoy the comfort of numbers? Here are just five reasons why you must try off the beaten path travel destinations:
1. Discover Yourself
When you go rogue and engage on an adventure that is all about you, the first thing you will discover is who you really are. Know how you will respond to challenging situations. See how you could help yourself when there is no one to help you. Discover how you can meet and make friends with strangers. See how you can lend a helping hand to a local community and make your stay worthwhile.
It is easy to forget who you really are with so many things that happen to us in a day.
Meanwhile, when traveling with a crowd, the tendency is to move as a group. It is a collective activity, where people rely on you, and you rely on them.
There is good in that, especially when traveling for the first time, but if you’re one who wishes to build lasting memories, then go solo.
2. Avoid the Tourist Trail & Hotspots
More often than not, what you see in holiday packages are the most popular destinations and landmarks. They are so popular that you can easily see pictures and get details about them on the Internet. Yes, seeing iconic landmarks up-close and personal is such a marvelous and unforgettable experience. Go see them, like millions of other travelers.
Next time, however, go to where not many people go and see things that you would otherwise not see for free online.
When staying in a hostel or Airbnb, you are in local neighborhoods near parks, markets, and shops that are tucked away from the usual tourist routes. Also, you get to have your own kitchen. This gives you the chance to buy food from the local market, ask the locals how to cook authentic native dishes, and a lot more.
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
You will be forced to learn and do new things that could spice up your stay when outside your comfort zone. When on your own, you will need to meet and make new friends. Everywhere you go in the world, there will always be families who love entertaining foreigners. Look for them and make an impact.
Meeting new friends means discovering neighborhoods and local hangout spaces. People might actually invite you at home to sample home-cooked meals and local beers. These valuable human connections and meaningful experiences you can’t get from packaged holiday tours.
Step outside your comfort zone by using public transport, instead of renting a car, hailing a cab or booking an Uber right away. Take the metro and meet people. Ride a camel, a horse, a tuk-tuk, a bicycle, or any other way the locals take to move around. Your off the beaten path travel destination becomes cooler and more fun when you ride as the locals do.
Step outside your comfort zone by going out at night when most other tourists are sleeping or partying with fellow travelers. All cities take on a completely different character in the cover of night. It’s like touring a totally new town.
4. Learn a New Language
When traveling in a tour group or friends, your default is to talk with people within your own group using your own language. This doesn’t add any value to you as a person. The experience is watered down to simply something similar when traveling to a city within your own country.
Learn a new language to enhance your travel experience. Culture is in one’s language. When you learn a new language, you dive deep into a new culture. You take on a new persona.
5. Save Money
Finally, by avoiding hotels, by refusing to purchase a fixed holiday package, and by staying away from usual tourist traps, you save a good amount of money. When moving around with a fellow tourist, you could easily end up in expensive touristic restaurants and shopping malls.
If, on the other hand, you walk alone or with a local friend, you could end up eating the most authentic local dish in an amazing yet inexpensive restaurant just around the street corner. You could just discover and buy hand-made souvenirs from a unique local boutique shop. By being daring and creative, you could easily enjoy cheap off the beaten path vacations.
Here are off the beaten path vacation ideas in the Netherlands. When in the Netherlands, refuse to see only Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. This beautiful country is much more than just these three leading cities.
Below are just a few off the beaten path travel destinations in the Netherlands.
Gouda is a picturesque little city just 55 minutes away by train and compact from Amsterdam. Gouda is world-famous for its cheese – Gouda cheese.
Come here to see the majestic Sint-Jan Church, the vibrant Markt, which is one of the oldest market squares in the country, the Town Hall, and rows of historic Gouda houses, some of which were built in the 1600s.
This is a lesser-known city that is only around 40 minutes away from Amsterdam. You can find all that you want to see in Amsterdam in Amersfoort but without the usual crowds of tourists.
Get off the beaten path and make your way here to see centuries-old, historic buildings and monuments, lovely canals and plenty of nice places to go shopping.
Zwolle is a small city not far from Amersfoort. You will be surprised how most holiday packages in the Netherlands do not include Zwolle in their itinerary. This is a picturesque city with many beautiful parks, plenty of greenery, lovely canals, charming bridges along the waterways, cobblestone-covered streets and medieval gothic architecture. Zwolle’s 600-year-old medieval gate with a castle-like entrance is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Move away from the tourist traps in Amsterdam by hopping onto a train for a short ride to Haarlem, which is older and more historic than the capital city. Haarlem is home to the eccentric Teyler’s Museum, the tiny De Hallen art museum, and the old St. Bavokerk or Grote Kerk (Big Church), where young Mozart used to play using the same organ that you can still see there today.
Efteling is a unique, mysterious, and quirky Dutch amusement park that has preceded Disneyland for many years. Here, you can truly say you are off the beaten path, as this is such a unique playground for children. It is not the standard theme park for little kids, as its iconic fairytale forest shows off many of the darker European fairy tales with its own signature style.
These are off the beaten path travel destinations waiting for you to discover. Step out of your comfort zone, celebrate yourself, stay away from usual tourist traps, and build lasting memories as you journey on roads less traveled.
Start your adventure in the Netherlands, where you can discover amazing off the beaten path vacation ideas.
Are you looking for more travel tips? Check out some of our newest blog posts here at Ask the Dutch Guy–your go-to guide to the Netherlands.