TRAVEL — More than a vacation

Travel is about seeing new places, but it's also about learning.

Travel is about seeing new places, but it’s also about learning.

TRAVEL — Travel broadens your horizons and provides new perspectives. While an all-inclusive holiday to a touristy destination is convenient and offers great value, sometimes you want more than a vacation. Venturing out of resort areas allows you to have more authentic experiences.

Gjaltema, JamesThe best way to learn more about the culture is to connect with locals. Many people around the world speak English, but trying to speak the local language goes a long way to creating a more profound experience.

Whether you are a seasoned, street-smart traveler or would feel safer with more support, there are many options where you can find the right balance between comfort, convenience, adventure and enrichment.

The first time I went backpacking around Europe I was young, naïve and shy. My eyes were opened to a much wider world. I was nervous at first travelling on my own, but soon discovered that you’re never alone when travelling; there are many like-minded individuals happy to share experiences with you. I learned so much and met lots of new life-long friends.

The more I travel the more confident and adaptable I become. The more I am able to connect and communicate with locals, the richer and more memorable the encounters. Taking a Spanish course before travelling around Peru enhanced the experience by being able to get to know locals. In Africa, while I was waiting for a train that was 12 hours late, I had a memorable experience learning Swahili from locals who enjoyed passing the time chatting with a Muzungo (foreigner).

Talking to other travelers always inspires me. Everyone has interesting stories to tell about the places they’ve been, things they’ve done and people they’ve met in their travels. As a travel agent, I am particularly interested in unique travel experiences to tell clients about. For example:

Local Spanish instructor, Emma Molina is organizing a two-week trip to Mexico to be immersed in the language. It includes 40 hours of Spanish lessons with a focus on conversation and interaction.

The package includes a few days in beach resorts and visits to must-see places such as the Mayan Pyramid at Chichen Itza. However, for the majority of the trip the group will be venturing into less touristy areas and experiencing the real Mexico. This is a great opportunity to learn a new language while having a rich and relaxing holiday.

The package price of $3,100 includes airfare, two nights all-inclusive resort accommodation in Cancun, nine nights in Merida with breakfast, three nights all-inclusive in Playa del Carmen, transportation, Spanish lessons and some amazing experiences.

An informational meeting will take place on Monday, April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Desert Garden’s Senior’s Centre. Please call 250-879-0873 for more information.

If you would like something more active, G-Adventures has a 12-day Costa Rica trip that really gets off the beaten path. You will hike deep into the jungle and stay with a local family for several days. The package includes white-water rafting, a zip-line, and rappelling down an incredible waterfall. A really unique experience is staying in the hidden cave behind the waterfall.

You will also have an opportunity to spend time at the beach and try surfing. This tour is $1,449 plus flights.

If you are travelling on your own, these trips allow you to join a group of other travelers. There is no single supplement required as you can be paired up with another traveler to share a room with.

In my opinion, travel is one of the most enriching experiences in life. I encourage everyone to share their stories and continue living new adventures.

James Gjaltema is a founding member of the Kamloops Travel Club and a Flight Centre Associate. He can be reached at 250-879-0873 or through his web-site:

About Mel Rothenburger (8563 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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