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4 Ways to Create Meaningful Adventures in the Age of Social Media

Reading Time: 10 minutes

This post is about four ways to create meaningful adventures in the age of social media.

Social media has revolutionized travel, making finding information about popular destinations and must-see attractions easier than ever. Unfortunately, the “Instagram Effect” has made travel a to-do task instead of a meaningful experience.

For example, we know that in Bali, we must wear flowing dresses on that famous swing or have a floating breakfast in a pool overlooking the jungle.

But did you know that you could just as easily learn all about the real king of the jungle on a herping tour with Bali Reptile Rescue? Or that you could join a traditional Balinese cooking class with a local family in their home?

I’ll always remember the first time I visited the Grand Canyon. After years of seeing jaw-dropping photos on social media, I stood at the edge of one of the world’s natural wonders, and…meh.

It was magnificent, but the experience felt underwhelming. I realized that rather than chasing after perfect snapshots, I craved authentic experiences.

There are ways to break free from this social hypnosis and find adventures that will transform you. Read on for four ways to create meaningful adventures in this age of social media.

Don’t have time to read it all?

To transform your travel from superficial snapshots to meaningful adventures, (1) Research your destination like a local, (2) Embrace slow travel, (3) Audit your trip like a storyteller, and (4) Start a meaningful travel collection that doesn’t involve shot glasses.

1) Research Your Destination Like a Local

Nobody knows the ins and outs of a city like the people who live there!

Be bold and ask locals for recommendations. They will have insider tips for you that you won’t find on the internet or in your guidebook.

If you don’t have contacts at your destination, the internet will be your best friend. Before packing, spend a day researching galleries, activities, and events there.

Created in MidJourney by Casa Diem Life

How to Research Your Destination Like a Local

Start with Local Blogs and Forums

    • Begin by searching for personal blogs written by residents of your destination. These often provide insider tips on attractions, dining, and activities that you won’t find in mainstream travel guides. Find them using hashtags, our keywords that include the city you’re traveling to + ‘blogger.’
    • Join local forums on Reddit or city-specific message boards where locals discuss everyday life. Look for threads about favorite spots or lesser-known attractions.

    Engage on Social Media

      • Follow local influencers and small businesses on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. These accounts often share real-time updates, hidden gems, and personal recommendations.
      • Use location-specific hashtags to discover posts from both locals and recent visitors. However, remember to dig deeper beyond the surface-level popularity of these posts.

      Utilize Google Maps

        • Zoom in on neighborhoods you’re interested in and explore the pinned locations. Check the reviews and photos posted by locals.
        • Look for smaller, less-reviewed places that offer a more authentic experience than highly-rated tourist spots.

        Consult Local News Outlets

          • Browse the websites of local newspapers and magazines. These often cover upcoming events, new restaurant openings, and community activities that could interest you during your visit.
          • Pay attention to the lifestyle and leisure sections for insights into local culture and popular activities.

          Connect with Locals Online

            • Participate in online communities such as local Facebook groups or city-specific subreddits. Don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions and advice; locals are often happy to share their knowledge and may provide you with unique insights.
            • Use apps like Nextdoor to connect with residents directly and get real-time recommendations.

            Visit Tourist Information Centers

              • Though it might sound counterintuitive, local tourist information centers can be a goldmine for discovering local secrets. Staffed by residents, these centers provide brochures and maps that highlight lesser-known attractions and events.
              • Ask the staff for favorites and recommendations not listed in the standard travel directories.

              Check Out Local Event Listings

                • Websites like Eventbrite or local city websites list upcoming events, giving you an idea of what residents enjoy.
                • Attend community events, farmer’s markets, and local festivals to experience the culture firsthand.

                Walk Around

                  • Sometimes, exploring a place on foot is the best way to discover it. Wander around different neighborhoods, speak to local shop owners, and note places that catch your eye.
                  • Use apps designed for local exploration, such as Detour, which offers location-based audio tours narrated by locals.

                  Following these steps will uncover a wealth of local knowledge that can transform your trip from a tourist experience to an authentic adventure.

                  For more tips on planning vacations, read my guide on how to take 52 vacations a year without breaking the bank.

                  2) Travel Slowly

                  Now that you know how to find immersive experiences in any city, I don’t recommend packing your itinerary with as many of them as possible. Yes, you’ll have an impressive gallery for the ‘gram, but the focus is on collecting meaningful stories from each location. The best way to do this is to take your time.

                  Created in MidJourney by Casa Diem Life

                  Compared to traditional travel, slow travel encourages travelers to spend more time in fewer places. This method allows for a richer understanding and appreciation of the local culture, customs, and environment.

                  Slow travel might include:

                  • Staying in a local neighborhood rather than a tourist district.
                  • Spending weeks or months in a single location.
                  • Engaging in everyday activities that offer genuine interactions with the local community.

                  Understandably, it’s not everyone. There are many factors to consider when deciding how to travel, including time constraints and financial considerations.

                  The Pros of Slow Travel

                  1. Deeper Cultural Understanding: Spending more time in one place and engaging with locals leads to a more profound understanding of the culture, customs, and lifestyle.
                  2. Less Stressful: With fewer time constraints and a slower pace, you can avoid the exhaustion and stress that often accompanies traditional travel itineraries.
                  3. Cost-Effective: Spending extended periods in fewer locations can help you negotiate better rates for accommodations and reduce transportation costs.
                  4. Sustainable: Slow travel tends to have a lower environmental impact since it often involves less frequent flying and encourages the use of public transportation.

                  The Cons of Slow Travel

                  1. Time-Consuming: Slow travel usually requires a longer commitment to travel, which may not be feasible for everyone, particularly those with limited vacation days.
                  2. Limited Scope: You might have to forego visiting multiple destinations, potentially missing out on varied experiences that traditional travel can offer.
                  3. Potential for Monotony: For some, spending extended periods in one place could lead to a feeling of restlessness.
                  4. Higher Upfront Costs: Getting situated for a long-term stay may feel like a mini-move, as you’ll need to set yourself up for success if you’ll be working, cooking, schooling, and socializing like a local.

                  For budget-conscious travelers, I have written an overview of how to plan a memorable, budget-friendly family vacation.

                  Slow travel offers an enriching alternative to a whirlwind tourist experience, trading breadth for depth and fostering meaningful connections with people and places.

                  How to Travel Slowly in a Fast-Paced World

                  Created in MidJourney by Casa Diem Life


                  Workations combine work and vacation, allowing you to stay in a destination for an extended period while continuing your professional responsibilities.

                  This approach provides the flexibility to explore your surroundings during off-hours and weekends without the pressure of cramming all attractions into a short visit.

                  Digital Nomad Visas

                  Many countries now offer digital nomad visas, catering to remote workers who wish to stay longer than typical tourist visas allow.

                  These visas often come with benefits such as access to local services and a more relaxed visa application process.

                  Volunteer Tourism

                  Volunteer tourism, or “voluntourism,” merges travel with volunteer opportunities.

                  You can contribute to local communities by working on conservation projects, teaching English, or assisting in local healthcare – while gaining a more profound understanding of cultural and social dynamics.

                  House Sitting and Homestays

                  House sitting offers the unique opportunity to stay in a destination free of charge in exchange for looking after someone’s home and pets.

                  Homestays allow you to live with a local family, providing a more intimate glimpse into their daily lives and customs. You’ll have the chance to participate in daily chores, share meals, and engage in conversation. This kind of travel experience can lead to lifelong friendships and extraordinary memories.

                  Slow Travel Tours

                  Opt for slow travel tours emphasizing minimalistic itineraries, local experiences, and small group sizes. Look for full-day tours and learning opportunities, like cooking classes or visits to historical sites.

                  These tours focus on experiencing destinations at a relaxed pace, highlighting quality over quantity in terms of sights and activities.

                  Disconnect from Technology

                  Unless you’ve decided to hermit away in a cabin on a mountaintop, you’re probably traveling with screens and gadgets that, admittedly, make life much easier.

                  Too much tech, though, and you find yourself distracted from the moment.

                  As a photographer, I struggle to balance documenting my journey and enjoying the small moments with my family, friends, or myself. I’ve often rolled my ankle on a hike, trying to get the perfect shot of the sun behind a peak instead of sitting down to enjoy the sunset.

                  I’ve learned that the pictures will never do the moment justice.

                  For ideas on using technology to prepare for your travels, read 7 Safety Habits to Adopt Before International Travel.

                  3) Travel Like a Storyteller

                  Think about your favorite movie and note what you remember most. Is it the score? The cast? The plot?

                  While all of these elements contribute to creating a memorable film, it is the storytelling that genuinely captivates us. The ability to weave characters, settings, and emotions into a cohesive narrative makes a story come alive.

                  Created in MidJourney by Casa Diem Life

                  Similarly, when we travel like storytellers, we are not simply checking off destinations on our bucket list but immersing ourselves in the experience and crafting our unique story. We become travelers with purpose, curiosity, and an open mind.

                  Remember, you are your primary audience. You don’t need a blog or podcast to tell travel stories. Telling yourself the story cements the adventure in your mind, and it’ll stay with you long after you return to your daily grind.

                  Elements of Storytelling in Travel

                  If you’re new to storytelling, the key is to keep it simple. Pay attention to these five elements to add depth to your travels.


                    • Who: The people you meet along your journey, such as locals, fellow travelers, and animals.
                    • How to watch for them: Start conversations, observe their routines, and note their unique mannerisms and how they interact with their environment.


                      • Where: The places you visit, from bustling city markets to serene mountain villages. Places of transit, like airports or train stations, also add to the story. Think of the journey as a whole, not just the destination.
                      • How to watch for them: Pay attention to the ambiance, architecture, sounds, and scents. Reflect on how these elements set the stage for your travel story.


                        • What: The sequence of events, including unexpected adventures, challenges, and triumphs. Note the difference between “This is the story of my trip to Italy” and “This is the story of how I lost my shoes at Saint Peter’s Basilica.”
                        • How to watch for them: Be mindful of the small and big moments that define your journey. Document the hurdles you overcome, the discoveries you make, and the experiences that surprise you.


                          • Why: The challenges or obstacles that drive the narrative forward. The most exciting stories are the ones that don’t go as expected. Was your flight delayed? Did it rain for the duration of your trip? Did you end up with ridiculous tan lines after a day at the beach?
                          • How to watch for them: Identify your ‘conflicts,’ such as language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, or logistical issues. Consider how these conflicts shape your experiences and growth.


                            • How: How conflicts are resolved. Did you take three connecting flights to make it to your sister’s wedding? Did a sweltering hot day end with a scuba diving adventure?
                            • How to watch for them: Reflect on the solutions you find, the help you receive, and the lessons you learn. Capture the moments of resolution that bring your travel tales full circle.

                            As a bonus, how you choose to document your story is an excellent opportunity to develop new creative skills. Consider using photography, videography, or audio recordings to immortalize the people, places, and plots of your experiences.

                            4- Start A Meaningful Travel Collection

                            No, I don’t mean shot glasses… unless you’re really into tequila.

                            Starting a travel collection doesn’t mean buying bulky souvenirs that will clutter your home. Instead, consider the things you wish you could take home and think of creative ways to do precisely that.

                            You can’t take people home with you, but you can connect with them on social media. You’ll probably wind up in jail if you try to take the Mona Lisa home, but a well-composed selfie beside her could be the start of your ArtXSelfie collection.

                            A woman takes an artistic selfie in front of a marble bust as part of her travel photography collection
                            Created in MidJourney by Casa Diem Life

                            Below are a few more ideas to get you started.

                            Photographs of Public Art and Statues

                            Snap photos of unique statues, murals, or street art you encounter during your travels. You can create an online photo album or buy a digital frame that cycles through your favorite images.

                            Sound Recordings of Street Corners

                            Capture the ambiance of a bustling market, the relaxing sound of waves on a beach, or a musician playing in a local square. These sound bites can be stored in a digital library and even used as custom ringtones or alarms, bringing a hint of your travels into your everyday life.

                            Pressed Flower Impressions

                            Collect flowers or leaves by pressing them between the pages of a book. Just ensure that they are not from protected species or restricted areas. These pressed flowers can be used in scrapbooks, framed as art, or scanned to create digital art.

                            Postcards Written to Yourself

                            Buy a postcard at each destination, write a note about your experiences, and mail it to your home. When you return, you’ll have a collection of dated, handwritten memories that are easy to store or display in a scrapbook.

                            Maps with Marked Routes

                            Keep maps of places you visit and mark the routes you took, the landmarks you saw, and the experiences you enjoyed. These maps can be digitized and kept on your computer or used to create a decorative collage.

                            Local Recipes and Menus

                            Collect recipes of your favorite dishes or photograph menus from memorable meals. Compile them into a digital cookbook to bring the flavors of your travels back to your kitchen.

                              Focusing on these lightweight and space-efficient collection ideas allows you to relive your travel memories anytime without creating clutter at home.

                              Bonus: Be Open to Unexpected Adventures

                              Finally, one of the best things about travel is its unpredictability.

                              Created in MidJourney by Casa Diem Life

                              While having a plan before you set out is important, try to remain flexible and open to unexpected opportunities. Some of the best experiences can come from a chance encounter or a spontaneous decision to deviate from your original itinerary.

                              If you prefer a more solid plan, seek out independent tour guides or travel bloggers who can connect you with lesser-known gems and introduce you to locals.

                              With some planning, the right attitude, and creativity, you can create meaningful memories that will stay with you long after your trip.

                              Do you have a travel tradition or collection that makes your trips more meaningful? Share it in the comments to inspire others!

                              Feeling Inspired? Pin it for later!


                              Hi, I'm Chioma Ikoku, a spirited explorer and a peace-loving homebody. I founded Casa Diem Life to help you combine the excitement of travel with the comfort of home, because I believe that adventure begins at home.

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