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The newest buzzword for the travel industry – authenticity – has created quite a stir. But did you know it’s something Exodus has been doing for years?
For years, travel was an accumulation of tick boxes on famous highlights – to travel was to stand in awe at the foot world-renowned buildings like the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal, to see natural phenomenon like the Grand Canyon or Angel Falls.
Now, we want those iconic moments – but we want so much more as well.
It’s no longer enough to simply observe the big sights. We want to participate in the place we are visiting, to get an honest feel for what it might be like to live in this country, this historic town, or amongst this nomadic community.
It’s different everywhere we go, but more and more travellers are searching for opportunities to see everyday comings and goings of local life.
Meeting the locals
But how does one go about seeking out these moments without them feeling manufactured? Especially if you have limited time and energy to dedicate to hours of research.
With Exodus, we take you off the beaten track to places our leaders have suggested, and it’s often these moments our travellers mention in feedback forms and online reviews.
It’s because we use our leaders’ local knowledge and connections that we know we can offer a genuine exchange. One of the enduringly popular aspects of an Exodus adventure is this chance to see both sides of a country – combing the showstoppers and the ‘real’.
Exodus traveller Gillian Bruce sums it up talking about her trip to Sri Lanka. It wasn’t just the palm-fringed beaches and the famous cave temples of Dambulla that made her trip special.
“Exodus took us down the back lanes and you felt you were getting an authentic experience. It wasn’t all sanitised, it was real. We had lunch with local people in their garden – it was one of the homes build by Exodus for tsunami victims – and they shared their stories. It felt like you could get under the skin of the place.”
Find out more: Cultural Holidays
It’s because we maintain this personal relationship with communities, usually through our leaders, that we’re able to take our travellers to see these things, to give the memorable moments to our travellers.
Because ultimately it’s that feeling of making a connection, even one which only lasts as long as a mealtime or an afternoon, which really counts.
Where you stay is crucial. By choosing homestays over faceless chain hotels you can gain real insight into local life. In Vietnam we choose to stay in a hill tribe village, sleeping as the locals do in bamboo longhouses and hosted by local families.
We feel it’s the best way to gain a real insight into H’mong country, and gives you a chance to eat with the locals.
Mongolian ger tents are the way to go, with their sturdy structures which have hardly changed in hundreds of years. Or in Jordan, where the tents are arranged around the central fire pit and hung with heavy dividers – but the evening is spent sipping mint tea and eating traditional Jordanian food under the stars, sometimes with traditional music as well.
Whilst there are no unchanging cultures, no places entirely unaffected by modernisation and globalisation, the rewards for seeking out somewhere authentic are clear.
But the easiest way to find authentic travel experiences is to be authentic yourself. If you’re genuine and interested with people you meet, they’ll be the same with you.
Browse our tours below and start planning your authentic travel experience.