Experiential Travel is for the non-tourist-tourist. It's the road less traveled. It's for those travelers who desire to live like the natives.
Your key resource for this topic is "AFAR" magazine.
As an example, on the cover of this recent issue of AFAR magazine you see the featured article is about Paris, France. You see the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine in the foreground. Very typical travel magazine cover,
But the cover page title of the article is "8 Secret Neighborhoods." The
key word here is "secret." Inside, you'll find the story is about
discovering "The Other Paris. A journey into the ethnic neighborhoods
redefining the City of Light."
Experience the Paris not found in any guidebook
Using Paris as our example, here's what you will do on your Experiential Vacation. First, you will shun any and all tourist area hotels. Instead, you and your girlfriend(s) will find an apartment to rent somewhere outside of the tourist areas. It will in all likelihood be a 3rd or 4th floor walkup flat. Choose one with a city view. This will run you about US$1,000-1500 per week. Next, you will register at a nearby language school. You will shop at local open-air markets and cook most of your meals. But, by evening, you will find a favorite cafe and you will sit and drink espresso until the dawn. For transportation you will take the Métro- the Paris subway system ($30 for a weekly pass), or you will rent a bike at the nearby Vélib stand.
New French love affair: Bicycles
One of the striking things about Paris traffic is the preponderance of bicycle commuters. These are professional people—men in suits and women in business attire. Clearly, cycling is a conventional mode of commuting in
Paris.If you don’t have your own bike, not to worry. The Paris RATP transit system has placed over 20,000 bicycles available for short-term rental at more than 1,400 locations throughout the city. Called the Vélibs, a contraction of vélo for bike and liberté, the bikes can be rented by the half-hour, day, or week. Swipe your credit card at one of the freestanding ATM-type devices and the front wheel stand releases your bike of choice. Rental costs about 7 Euros per day. You can return the bike to any station. Use your iPhone's GPS to find the nearest one.
My Experiential Adventures in Mexico
My husband and I built a house in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Now granted this is a favorite of US and Canadian expatriates, we didn't build near any of the growing-like-weeds gated communities. No, we built in the
Mexican-dominated neighborhood of Guadiana. There were only two other
"gringos" that we know of who lived within a four square block. Yes, my
comfort with Spanish came in handy, but my husband immediately joined a
Anyway, we had a wonderful three years living there, until family matters back home necessitated our leaving.
If you think this type of travel might appeal to you and your girlfriends, I recommend you take a look at
AFAR Magazine's Web Site.
And you might also want to look at "International Living." Although this magazine is aimed more at folks looking to retire to or invest in another country, it often contains good info for the experiential traveler.
International Living Magazine's Web Site.
If you'd like some assistance in planning your own Experiential Travel girlfriends getaway, I'd be glad to help.
Just email me if you have questions about Experiential Travel.