What is Immersion Traveling?

Contadora Island, Panama

What is Immersion Traveling? For the large majority of people, I would venture to guess that the idea of Travel consists of going out into the world for a few days or a couple of weeks at a time. The thought of travel has always been a nice thing, but it usually is just that – A thought. Most of the time, “life gets in the way” and there is no spare time to be found. When most people actually do go somewhere to travel, it is usually for a short stint, enough to tell the neighbors & friends about all of the different foods they tried, or how many amazing sights they saw in one afternoon. Whether that be time spent laying out on the beach & sipping a Margarita, or taking a backpack through the jungles of the Amazon, the overall period of time for each trip is limited.

Not only is the thought of going to some place exotic & adventurous an exciting idea, it’s also nice to imagine escaping the repetitive actions of every day life back home. Escape from the office, from taking the kids to scheduled lessons, from planning business lunches and meetings, or lying down at the end of the night and turning on the TV only to see more god-awful reality stars like the Kardashian’s; All of these become redundant and mundane. Life gets boring. A brief glimpse of travel can help put things into perspective and hopefully make a change for the better in all of our lives. However, sightseeing, visiting the landmarks, beaches, shopping, zip-lining, and other tourist attractions, usually consist of 99% of the activity that one experiences in the limited amount of time allotted for the usual vacation or travel adventure. Usual accommodations consist of resort-style hotels or fancy bed & breakfasts with enough comfort to make sure the week-long visitor has never left the high-end luxuries of the Western World.

As nice as it may seem to ‘experience’ these momentary breaks, this type of travel just skims the surface to the insight and overall benefits of long-term Immersion travel. And eventually, sooner than later, you will find yourself back behind the desk, working & living the same boring routine, all the while having to endure yet another series of promos for another season of that Kardashian show, and dreaming about next year’s week-long vacation.

Long-term travel, in the form of cultural immersion travel, allows the individual to more fully experience a new way of life. From the surface, differences in language, clothing, fashions, daily interactions, and foods will be obvious. But after long-term immersion, one can more fully comprehend the concrete ideas of their new neighbors, the local population’s thought process, their values, their language, build strong relationships with the locals, discover endless opportunities for shared business & commerce, and live a life outside of the box in which they themselves grew. Immersion Travel is the type of travel that consists of setting yourself up in a new location for an extended period of time, in order to more fully enjoy these benefits.

In addition to finding new living accommodations in an unknown place, going out into the local population and experiencing life like the locals is at the heart of the Immersion Traveler’s itinerary. It’s not enough to just live in the center of the community. The Immersion Traveler looks to be active within the local groups, to build relationships, to network for mutual benefit, and to gain insight into the psyche and mentalities of their host country’s people. This includes a whole array of new learned concepts, activities, foods, material, and traditions. The Immersion Traveler not only expands their horizon in learning more about their new neighbors, they open up their own mind to an infinite library of new ways to think about life’s trivial concepts, broadening the scope of new opportunities present throughout the world for both themselves and their new neighbors, and experience ways of living that could never be replicated within the confines of their own hometown.

Faro, Gotland, Sweden

To immerse one’s self is an honorable undertaking, as for the majority of people it can be extremely difficult. Not adhering to preconceived notions, leaving behind the comfort of your old home, getting lost in unknown territory, and taking on a new life without knowing another soul for hundreds or even thousands of miles, takes a lot of courage, dedication, and determination. But the wisdom gained, the inner strength found, the mind-altering experiences, and overall benefits of continued learning, far outweigh the difficulties of traversing through new landscapes, both physically & mentally. Rest assured, if you would ever feel you had made a mistake by trying to take on this lifestyle, it would be very simple to just go back to the place in which you came. The Kardashian’s will be waiting for your return to reality.

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