Amazing Indie Travel Experiences for 2012

At the beginning of the year, we asked BootsnAll readers about their travel plans for the coming year. We didn’t just want to hear about where you wanted to go, but about what you wanted to experience as well. That’s what we think travel – particularly indie travel – is all about: not just seeing the major sights but experiencing a culture, learning about the people, history, religion, and way of life of a place, and challenging yourself to find your own place in the world. 

On Monday, we launched the Indie Travel Manifesto, a community-curated statement about indie travel and the travelers who choose to explore the world in the indie travel style. Though the first draft of the Manifesto was without crowdsourcing the community, we weren’t surprised to see how much of it relates directly to the things you told us you wanted to see and do on your travels this year. The common themes between the two let us know that we were on the right track with the Indie Travel Manifesto, and that the community agrees with the idea that travel really is about making connections and learning more about yourself and the world around you. 

So, without further ado, we present some ideas for incredible experiences to inspire you to be an indie traveler this year!

Indie travelers value  interactions over transactions, local information over received information, and first-hand experience over expert opinions and they practice caution, but not paranoia.

1. Celebrate a holiday with a local family.

2. Experience a traditional ayahuasca ceremony in South America. – Khandi Lee

3. Learn from a local family while doing a homestay in Azerbaijan. – Katie Going Global 

4. Make new friends. – Nicolas DesCorte

5. Visit the historical cities of the Silk Road – Samarkand, Bukhara, Kiva, Merv – and the  Caucasus, but especially Georgia for its hospitality and landscapes. – The Furious Panda

Indie travelers value options over possessions, dynamic possibilities over static goals, and discovery over escape.

6. Traveling slowly and working on farms, exploring small-town France, climbing mountains in Slovenia, breathing in the damp salty air of coastal Wales, picking olives in Italy. – Erin Hutton

7. Learn to cook Thai food from a local.  – edventureproject

8.  Live abroad in one place for several months, until you begin to feel like a resident instead of a traveler.

Indie travelers value  mental and spiritual growth as much as physical adventure, private transformation over social status and bragging rights, and the present moment over dreams of past and future.

9. Start a round the world trip. – World Flavor

10. Walk across an entire (small) country, taking the time to see life slowly at ground level rather than rushing by.

11. Explore the side streets of Mandalay and learn about life in Burma.

12. Sleep in a traditional ger with a nomadic family in Mongolia.

Indie travelers pack light and keep things simple and adapt as they go rather than micromanage in advance.

13. Don’t check any bags all year to see how lightly you can travel.

14. Go without  a plan. – Grounded Traveler

15. Forget the bucket lists and things to check off. Go with a mission, but not a plan.

Indie travelers know how to slow down and enjoy an experience and seek pleasure in simple moments and details.

16. Take weekend trips and slowly explore Portugal (or wherever you happen to live). – Julie Dawn Fox

17. Go to Colombia. Sleep in a hammock in Tayrona National Park. Trek to the Lost City. - Jesse Unstuck

18. Bike around the south of France with no plans except to eat, drink, and relax.

Indie travelers make meaningful connections and informed decisions and learn the economic, political and environmental context of their host culture.

19. Scratch the name of a 911 hero onto paper at the 911 Memorial in NYC. – Roots and Wings

20. Tour the White House and another part of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. – Reflections Enroute 

21. Get beyond the headlines in a place like Iran and start seeing countries as the individuals who live there, not the governments in charge.

Indie travelers emphasize listening more than talking, seek to understand — not judge or romanticize — other cultures, and practice courtesy, patience, humility, and good humor.

22.  Live with for a week, and write about the people that work on the Island of Komodo. – Danib is Going Nomad

23. Visit Cuba to see it now, before it changes. – Mittie Roger and Ginger Nomads

Indie travelers give back to the local economy and share what they’ve learned with others.

24. Do the Mongol Rally, and raise 75,000 pounds for charity.  - Spunky Girl Monologues

25. Trade food and accommodation for physical work through a helpx, wwoof-ing or workaway positions. Starting in Bulgaria in mid January. – Food.Travel. Bliss

26. Volunteer on a vet project in Southeast Asia. – Wandering Vet

27. Hitchhike to Morocco, raising money for charity. – Gallivanting Greg

28. Visit a place that has experienced a natural disaster recently, like Japan, Cinque Terre, Patagonia,  to help rebound tourism.

29. Go on a trip with a family member and reconnect.  – Fluent in Frolicking

30. Be a host/hostess in your city – couchsurfing, meeting travelers for a drink, being a tour guide.

Photos by: hkandy,  brunomiranda, rhodesonsupercake

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  • Joan McKniff said at 2012-02-10T15:38:49+0000: just back from Cuba; most memorable conversation, in reply to where did I learn my Spanish, talking about being a JFK era Peace Corps volunteer. Understandably, had never heard of or imagined that part of USA, let alone Kennedy's Ask not quote. Ended up being invited home to dinner.
  • Sam Blake said at 2012-02-10T19:40:01+0000: Great list of articles! Thanks for including mine. I am already inspired by Jesse Unstuck.
  • Pamela MacNaughtan said at 2012-02-10T10:51:39+0000: Wow, this is an incredible list of Indie Travel experiences for 2012. I'm blown away by how many are in Asia! lol
  • Candy Treft said at 2012-02-10T21:20:33+0000: Thanks for including me. I am off tomorrow to start my south American journey!