OK, traveling is definitely not a competition.
In fact, your travel experiences don't really need to be better than everyone else's, but rather better than what YOU have ever experienced before.
If you are getting tired of just checking sites off lists, taking photos of landmarks and fighting through huge tourist crowds, here are a few ways you can take your travel experiences to the next level.
1. Exchange Your Skills
Skill sharing is a way to not only travel cheaply, but to actually make a difference in the life of a local and get to better understand their daily struggles.
Many of these programs allow you to exchange some kind of skill or labor for room and board, which gives you the chance to travel longer and wider on less cash.
If you like the outdoors, WOOFING (Working on Organic Farms) allows you to choose anything from a vineyard and livestock farm to a permaculture center and veggie garden to make the exchange.
Other sites like Helpex allow you to offer up a huge variety of skills, from babysitting and cleaning, to gardening and doing handiwork for a chance at a free stay in a new location.
2. Try House Sitting
If you want to really know what it's like to live like an actual local in a different city or country, house sitting could be your best bet.
Sites like Trusted House Sitters allow you to pair up with a family who will be traveling or away for work and is in need of someone to take care of their homes and pets.
There is a bit of a vetting system for everyone's security, but once you are properly signed up for the platform, you can start looking for people to match with.
This is best for long-term travel and really exploring a destination deeply.
3. Travel Based on World Events
Instead of basing your journey around different sites to see, try revolving it around famous or interesting world events.
Check out the online resources for finding out what events are happening where and when, and start planning your trip accordingly.
Make it to Germany for Oktoberfest, Brazil for Carnival or the US for Mardi Gras. You can seek out all of the music festivals around the world to attend if that's more your thing, or look for food and wine festivals if you love to taste the local treats.
What better way to make the most of your travels than volunteering?
By joining a volunteer program, you are able to give back to the communities you visit, utilize current skills or learn new ones and see the local culture in real time.
There are a whole variety of organizations that help match eager travelers with the ideal volunteer situation for them, and can make the process a whole lot easier than trying to do it on your own.
If you want to spend some serious time in another place, finding a job is a fantastic option.
Living and working in a new destination will give you the kind of travel experience that you could never get on just a short trip.
You will learn how to fit into a new culture, possibly to speak the local language and how to meet new friends and figure out a new way of life.
Plus, you will get to earn some money, allowing you to keep traveling, save for your future or plan for your next adventure. Popular jobs are teaching English in Asia, doing farm or hostel work in Australia and New Zealand, or getting involved in the tourism industry in South America.
There are tons of options out there so that you can choose what fits your personality the most.
6. Travel With no Plans
It may sound a little reckless, but traveling with no plans can be the ultimate experience.
You could start by blindly putting your finger on a map and seeing where it lands in order to choose your first destination. Once there, start meeting other travelers, talking to locals and getting recommendations from anyone who will give them.
Keep your travels going by visiting destinations that people say are worth checking out. You won't know where you are going in advance or what to expect either, making this the ultimate adventure.
Have you tried any of these? What did you think?