Browsing Tag

Off the beaten path

Advice Giving Back Journal

5 Simple Ways To Deepen Your Travel Experiences

“Be a traveler, not a tourist.” It’s an overused quote in the travel world, but one that we wholeheartedly abide by. A constant theme here at Dame Traveler is the important lessons and empowerment travel can bring to those that experience it. Every trip, every adventure has limitless lessons to take in. Choosing to dive in and deepen your travel experiences is a decision adventurers will never regret. Here are some of our tried and true ways to intensify your explorations. 

Invest Your Time In Conversation

It can be a bit intimidating, but extending ourselves to conversing with the people we encounter in our travel experiences is the only way to really make a connection. So say “hello” to the person at the cafe next to you. Ask the owner of a shop if they’re from the area, or the story of their business. If you’re staying in an AirBnb, ask your host for their recommendations or if you can buy them a drink. Taking the small steps toward communication (even if the conversation is stunted by language barriers) elevates your travel experience ten fold. Be a student of this world. Ask questions. Adopt a mindset of true curiosity. Take the time to listen. You might not make a BFF through each conversation, but even the briefest encounters will teach you something. 

Go Local

Go local in all shapes and forms. Avoid restaurants that tout “tourist favorite” in its descriptions and choose a more authentic one instead. Go where the locals go. Eat where the locals eat. Live how the locals eat. You’ll deepen your understanding of the place, and you’ll have the unique opportunity to connect with the people who call your destination home. 

Your biggest power as a traveler is where you spend your time and your money. If you’re spending your hours enjoying the environment of a family owned boutique, book store, or cafe, buy yourself a little souvenir to remember it by. That little token of joy you’ll bring home will feel special and will support the well-being of the local economy. 

Spend A Few Days “Off The Beaten Path”

If you have the time in your itinerary, take a day or two away from the larger cities. Drive into the countryside or take the train to a more remote village. The act of getting off of the well beaten path will deepen your understanding of where you are. Not all life is city life. Not all locals look or dress like what you’ve seen in the metropolis you’ve flown into. What do the people’s lives look like outside of what your guidebooks have told you? There’s only one way of knowing, and it’s to get out there and find out for yourself. 

Unplug

You don’t necessarily have to experience your whole trip truly unplugged (although, here are some ideas if that sounds like heaven to you). But, instead of being careless with your devices – be mindful of how much of your time is in front of a screen. Be present. Choose to experience your destination with open eyes. Notice the little details that are romantic and go unnoticed. Write them down in a journal. Keep a diary of your daily excursions. Collect moments. Find balance in documenting and being aware and present. 

Go With No Plan

Get wonderfully lost in the charming neighborhoods of your destination. Not every minute of your trip should be timed and planned. (If you’re a super planner, just dedicate a whole morning or afternoon to “wandering time.”) It’s during this unstructured time that we learn the most about ourselves and the place we wander through.

No matter what you do during your travels – taking the effort and initiative to deepen your travel experiences will elevate your entire trip. You’ll be shown more and you’ll leave with more gratitude and understanding. What do you do to get more out of your travels?

Asia Europe

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

Nestled between Europe and Asia sits a jewel of a country, glimmering undetected by hoards of tourists and seasoned travelers alike. Armenia. As one of the earliest Christian civilizations, Armenia’s mountainous Caucasus surroundings hold so much history and age, it could boggle the mind of those who love the ancient world as much as the new. My short journey through this small but might country exposed me to its earliest relics and stunning natural vistas.

Armenia’s Ancient Gems

Perhaps the most sweeping off all the landscapes I witnessed in beautiful Armenia was Garni Gorge‘s stunning and gigantic basalt rock formation. Referred to as “The Symphony Of The Stones,” these tall rock walls flank the skies with their dark and ominous linear formations… and are sure to make you feel very small in comparison.

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

Nearby, the Garni fortress lies surrounded by a hundred meter high cliffs. I was absolutely swept away imagining the scenes that unfolded here. Learning that this stronghold was created in 2166 B.C. just put everything in perspective! Garni was the home of so much ancient history, from three brutal defeats of the Roman Empire to the decision for the emperor to leave Armenia and so much more.

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

Next, the most unique and sacred of religious places… the Geghard Monastery. This gathering of churches, tombs and UNESCO World Heritage Site absolutely floored me. Most of the buildings of the monastery are carved into the adjacent mountains, welcoming guests with cave entrances and etched stonework that feels like a slice of ancient lore come to life.

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

While here, I was also able to lunch at the absolutely excellent Hyelandz Eco Village Resort. Between their warm hospitality at the resort and their attention to ecologically friendly practices, I fell in love.

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

Vyots Zhor Province houses an absolutely incredible cave where the oldest shoe was found (5,500 years old, folks!). As if Armenian ancient history weren’t absolutely blowing my mind already!  Nearby, the province also touts one of the oldest winery too, which is an extra thousand years older than the aforementioned shoe. The winery was discovered in the midst of the complex cave systems of the Areni village by a team of archeologists. Good to know that even in ancient times, people were focused on wining and dining! 😉

Armenia’s capital, Yerevan is the largest city in the country, and also is one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities. Walking through the streets of Yerevan, you can’t help but feel the presence of its history, both old and new. Much of the area is marked by the Soviet architecture (from its late 20th century ruling), and yet its museums tout some of the oldest relics and manuscripts in our world. Imagine witnessing the history that unfolded here, the changing of leadership and so much more.

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

The city is stocked with markets and eateries that kept my hunger at bay and absolutely delighted my senses. The fresh, authentic meals I had here I will never forget. Be sure to stop at Tavern Yerevan for a life-changing dinner filled with snacks and Armenian wine! In between exploring, I crashed at the friendly Hotel Tufenkian Historic, which was the perfect place to rest and relax after a long day of exploring the city.

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

When feeling the heat of Armenia’s summer days, be sure to take a trip to Lake Svan. This freshwater alpine lake is perfect for swimming, beaching, sailing and watching an absolutely epic sunset. The lake’s colors and shades of blue were dazzling, especially from the ship’s edge. Lake Svan is also flanked by many old outlooks and churches, filled with glorious viewpoints of the water.

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of EurasiaArmenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

Now, are you ready to feel the absolute power of Armenian history? Enter a mountain so steeped in lore that it could blow your mind. Near Khor Virap, a monastery located in the Ararat plain near the border with Turkey, lies Mount Ararart. It’s obvious that Armenia’s landscapes are a beauty all their old – browns and greens and rolling hills, stark mountains, stoned lined towers… but Mount Ararart floored me. Not only is this the highest mountain in the eastern Turkish area, but it also is the peak described in the Bible where Noah landed his Ark. Mind blowing, isn’t it?Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of EurasiaArmenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of EurasiaArmenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of EurasiaFinally, eighty miles south of Yerevan sits Noravank, a 13th century Armenian monastery. Cut into a small gorge near Amaghu River amidst a perfectly gorgeous valley, this religious complex is steeped with age and preserved to a t. Hand carved throughout the churches are crosses surrounded circular symbols, a classic symbol used in stonework. Yet another absolute gem here in Eurasia!

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

Choosing The “Undiscovered”

So often, as travelers, we are shown images of romantic villages and lush landscapes of large metropolises that are populated by many-a-tourist. The over-exposed travel locations are well loved for good reason. However, through my experiences exploring Armenia, I’ve learned the importance of saying “yes” to the unknown. Perhaps the most refreshing of discoveries come from choosing places in this world that remain “untouched” by the travel industry. Exchanging stories with locals in fragmented translations, visiting markets filled with the daily hustle and bustle of families shopping for their groceries, witnessing the beautiful lives that are unfolding without any pretense.

Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia Armenia: The Undiscovered Jewel Of Eurasia

The travel industry is booming in ways that both baffle and excite me deeply, but I’ve found through my experience that breaking away from the peak places of tourism brings deeper connection and sincerely memorable experiences, like those that I’ve had here in Armenia.

Armenia, the gem of Eurasia, is sure to delight any traveler – the historian, the artist, the naturalist, the seeker. Visiting this beautiful country has given me renewed hope in discovering more of this world, and for that I am thankful.


Trip sponsored by Armenia Travel.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.
Asia Hotels Insider Tips

Off the Beaten Path: Tana Toraja, Indonesia | Trip of Wonders

Bali immediately comes to mind when most people think of Indonesia,  but If you’ve been to Bali before and are looking for something beyond this popular island, consider making your way to Tana Toraja, a region of South Sulawesi. Toraja will hands down become one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever collect during your travels. We had the opportunity to join the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism on an adventure to this beautiful place, rich in culture and it was full of wonder, knowledge and mystery.

How to get there:
Traveling from Yogykarta, you’ll have to connect in the city of Makassar before landing on the island of Palopo by propeller plane. You will then begin a three hour drive up into the highlands of South Sulawesi before arriving to Toraja. Note: the long, narrow winding roads may cause motion sickness so be prepared beforehand.

What to expect:
Home to the indigenous people known as the Torajans, you’ll be surrounded by stunning nature and the most unique architecture you’ll ever see. The homes are inspired by the boats from China that the Torajans used to travel with and the people of Toraja have one of the most complex funeral traditions in the world, giving this destination in Indonesia a bit of an eerie vibe.

The Ma’nene ceremony that only happens every three years was going on in the Sareale Village while we were there. I personally did not feel comfortable witnessing this so I cannot speak on my experience but for the Torajans, life doesn’t end after death. The tradition involves digging up the dead, cleaning and grooming them as a mark of respect between life and death. An interesting experience to say the least.

Things to do:
Visit Londa
Londa is where you’ll witness the ancient burial cave where thousands of Torajan families are honored. Lanterns are offered for guests who’d like to explore the caves.

Traditional village of Ke’te Kesu
Immerse yourself in Torajan culture by witnessing the art form of the Manganda dance and connect with locals at the Kete Kesu village. The dance’s main purpose is to show gratitude after war, to Mother Earth and the Gods.

Where to stay: Toraja Heritage Hotel
Boasting some of the most beautiful views, the Toraja Heritage Hotel is considered one of the best places to stay in Toraja. The rooms are replicas of traditional Torajan homes. The hotel also offers a spa, outdoor pool, restaurants, bar and coffee shop.

This #TripOfWonders trip has very much expanded my mind even more and has proved over and over again that the beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people and cultures.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. I was invited as guest by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Top