Thematic Travel is the first in a series of articles on SLOW travel. If you are traveling independently and/or solo, this travel style will provide unique opportunities to interact with locals and make new friends while participating in the activities that you enjoy the most.
What if I traveled with a theme?
What if I went with a specific objective in mind instead of merely going to see the typical well-known sites?
What if I exclusively visited modern art institutions or jazz clubs in a city?
Or did you limit your hiking to routes starting with the letter M?
Or did you go to research a place’s wine industry?
Or resolved I would only dine with a native cuisine expert at Japanese restaurants?
Actually, it could be anything as long as it narrowed the emphasis of my trips to a single concept and made me reconsider a certain location.
Traveling with a Theme: 5 Simple Steps
So, how do you go about doing this? Opening a guidebook just needs a little bit extra study, but this is how I go about it:
Step 1: choose a theme
This is a logical initial action. Without it, you cannot complete any of the other stages. My mind was on Paris in the 1920s, therefore I made the decision to attempt to revisit that time period. However, it may be anything you’re interested in, such as discovering how cheese or wine is made, vegan cuisine, jazz culture, or the current art scene.
And if you’re unsure of what theme to choose, consider the topics that most interest you and see whether the location offers anything relevant to them, or just Google it, “What is (x) famous for?” and see what comes up!
Step 2: Online research using various keywords
Go deeper with your search after selecting your theme. I utilize a variety of websites for my research, including local blogs, general travel blogs, Lonely Planet, and Time Out. Then, in order to cover all my bases, I go to Google and enter a variety of terms.
For my journey to the ’20s, for instance, I searched up “books on ’20s Paris,” “how to see ’20s Paris,” “1920s Paris sights,” “Paris speakeasies,” and “best jazz clubs in Paris” and discovered a lot of sources to read and a variety of locations where I could feel the ’20s spirit. I was able to create a list of possible destinations as a result.
See what you can find by casting a wide net.
Step 3: Make an Itinerary
I didn’t have much time and there was a lot to see in Paris, so I focused on what appealed to me the most. The food came first, followed by the bars, and finally the views. I was able to plan my journey more broadly as a result. You may design your best route by tagging places on a Google Map to see how far away they are.
When you have a complete list of everything you want to see and do, you may arrange lodging close to some (or all) of your planned activities.
Step 4: Speak with locals and professionals
Finding people who share your interests may be really easy with the help of Meetup.com and Couchsurfing groups. They will be familiar with the city’s ins and outs and likely have several recommendations.
The group meets are also a great chance to socialize with locals who have similar interests, which facilitates communication and eliminates the awkward language barrier.
Additionally, social networking is a viable option. Even if you don’t know anybody where you’re going, a buddy or friend of a friend probably does. Inform folks that you are searching for contacts in a certain location. It’s likely that you can connect with someone through your current social network.
Step 5 – Read a Book (or Three)
To get context, read a book on the subject. While I already knew a lot about the ’20s Jazz Age, I ended up picking a few more books on the subject:
- When Paris Sizzled by Mary McAuliffe
- Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill
- Shakespeare and Company by Sylvia Beach
- The Crazy Years: Paris in the Twenties by William Wiser
Books also might clue you in to some other attractions as well.