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  • Wendy Bartley

Travel Wide or Travel Deep?

Travel wide? Travel deep? What does that even mean? Glad you asked (if you already know, hang around, because we’re going to give some tips in a minute).

Traveling wide is what most travel advertising is geared to. It’s London, Paris & Rome in 10 days. It’s 5 Alaskan towns in a week. It’s a few days (or hours, if you’re on a cruise) in a destination to hit the highlights, then moving on to the next great thing.

Traveling deep is slower. It means staying somewhere long enough to find out first hand which bakery has the best croissants or which beach has the softest sand. It’s being a local, not a tourist.

More flexibility

Flight delays and missed connections have always been a headache, but the pandemic induced upheaval makes us long for a good old weather delay. No matter how carefully we construct your itinerary there are bound to be days when things just don’t work out as planned. Staying longer in one location gives some grace for the unexpected. The “guaranteed whale sighting or you get a second day free” is only valuable if you are around for the second day.

Miss the crowds

Venice, Italy is magical, but it can be jam packed when the cruise ships come to call. While the day trippers wait in line to see St. Marks you can take an afternoon nap secure in the knowledge that it will be there for you later...after they leave.

More powerful memories

It’s hard to get in sync with the vibe of an area if you only have a few hours or if you spend all your time at your resort. Many resorts add in an “authentic” vibe through architecture or a few local offerings on the menu, but they are designed to make you feel comfortable away from home, and that means a fundamentally westernized experience. By venturing beyond the tourist zone you will make deeper, more meaningful connections with the people and places you’re visiting.

Visit a farmer’s market

No, you don’t have to cook all your meals. Wander the farmers market to see what’s grown locally and sample some of the best treats an area has to offer. Talk to the vendors, and ask questions. You may even score an invite to a farm or bakery to see where it all comes from.

Hire a photographer

First, you’ll get great vacation pictures and your holiday cards will be over the top. Second, local photographers know all the best spots and will take you places most tourists never see.

Cooking lesson

No, we’re not talking about a salsa making class with 43 other cruise ship guests. You can eat pasta in Italy, or you can learn to make pasta and sauce in Nona’s kitchen using a recipe handed down over generations, then stay for dinner with the family.

Find a theme

Traveling deep doesn’t mean checking in and doing nothing (you’re here to experience a new spot, after all). Having a theme can give direction to your wanderings and deepen your appreciation of your surroundings. See our blog post about themed vacations for some ideas, or reach out and we’ll help you find one. Think ancestry, architecture, food, art, or bird watching.

Trace your heritage

Did you get an ancestry DNA kit for Christmas? Spend a week walking the streets where your great grandfather lived and hook up with a genealogist that can help you find a long lost cousin. Look for an upcoming blog on heritage travel!

Hang out in the park

Remember the farmer’s market tip? Grab some fresh bread, cheese, fruit, and a bottle of wine, then find a bench and live local for an afternoon. Bonus points if you’re traveling with kids, because children have no language barrier. They are sure to make a new friend and you might, too.

Attend a religious service

Sure, you could request tickets to the English language mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica (if the once monthly offering coincides with your one day visit) or you could visit one of the small (but no less stunning) parish churches. No matter your faith, attending a service is an incredible way to connect with the people and places you’re visiting.


We believe that travel is transformative and volunteering for a couple of hours will truly let you see the heart of a region. Animal shelters, soup kitchens, building projects, visiting an orphanage, the list truly is endless, and you will come away with a level of empathy and understanding you would never get on a highlight tour.

Become a regular

No need to decide between those two great dishes on the menu. You’re in town long enough to return a second time and try them both. Talk to your server, learn their name, and you may become a regular after just a couple of visits. Nothing makes you feel like a local more than having a favorite happy hour spot.

Shop local

Skip Diamonds International, Tiffany, and Starbucks. Hit a thrift store, pawn shop, or local boutique to pick up an authentic souvenir of your time away.

Story hour at the library

Traveling with kids? Check the local library and museums for free kids’ programs throughout the week. What a great way to expose the little ones to something new in a familiar format!

Read a book

No, not a guide book. That’s why you have a travel advisor. Destination inspired books come in all genres from thrillers to romance, so grab one and get going. If you don’t know where to start, hit a local bookstore on arrival and ask for a suggestion. Bibliophiles LOVE to share their favorites. Bonus points if the author is local.

Check out the local art scene

Most cities have an area where the artists congregate....go find them. Don’t avoid the buskers, but stop and listen. Find the graffiti and the murals. The true soul of a country is expressed through its street art and performers, so venture past the big museums.

Ask the right questions

Locals can be your best source of information, but you have to know what to say. Asking for a restaurant recommendation will usually result in a list of the “top spots” geared to westerners. Ask where they would take their best friend for a relaxed evening and you may find a hidden gem. Insider tip: look for parking lots filled with city/county/official vehicles. It’s likely to be an excellent value (working people don’t drop $50 on lunch), and have great food and service.

Traveling wide will always be popular and we will return to it one day soon, but evolving entry requirements and border closings are making it more complicated than it used to be. This is why we’re naming 2021 the Year To Travel Deep. One set of rules, one set of tests, one destination in depth.

Are you convinced yet? Ready to try implementing some deep travel into your next adventure? You don’t have to spend a month in a location to travel deep, and you don’t have to rent a house and cook every meal. Let your travel advisor incorporate some deep moments into your next won’t be sorry.

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