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At Not In The Guidebooks, we believe that experiential travel – actually immersing yourself in a culture by doing exactly as the locals do – is the best way to travel. The benefits of activity holidays stretch further than you may expect, helping not just you have the best possible travel experience, but also helping out local communities.

Whether it’s hiking on trails only the locals know, trying authentic, home-cooked food, visiting family-run and family-owned workshops, vineyards, or joining surfers on the beach, when you travel like a local, you get a real appreciation and insight into what a place is really like, as opposed to a watered-down, touristy façade.

Activity holidays are a wonderful way of getting away from the standard tourist trail, and are a way of sampling real local life beyond the all-inclusive resorts and overcrowded beaches.

In this blog, we’re going to unpack the individual benefits of an activity holidays and of experiential travel, to show you that when you explore like a local, the positive impacts spread far and wide.

Benefits of Activity Holidays for Travellers

view of the spanish pyrenees mountains

First of all, what benefits do you get from activity holidays, as a traveller, or from experiential travel? Whether it’s joining a French cooking and language holiday, or getting immersed in a totally unique culture in Cambodia, this type of travel can provide you with some of the richest experiences of your life.

1.      Meet New, Likeminded People

When you take the plunge and join an activity holiday, whether that be surfing in Portugal, hiking in Spain, or cooking in Italy, you’ll be joining a group of people who also like to travel, get out and explore the world, whilst enjoying doing something they love, or learning something new.

Say you’re a keen surfer and want to perfect your skills on the stunning beaches of Ericeira, then by joining an activity holiday alone, or with a friend, you will get the opportunity to bond with new people who have a love of the waves.

Or you could be someone keen on learning new cooking skills in the gastronomic capital of France, and head to Lyon to join other passionate foodies, immediately giving you something in common.

This makes activity holidays perfect for solo travellers who have a thirst for something new and meeting new people, and by combining your hobbies or interests with your holiday, finding new travelling companions and friends becomes so much easier.

surfers playing cards

2.      See the True Side to a Culture

One of the greatest issues with over-tourism is the fact that wherever it goes, it dilutes a local culture as large all-inclusive resorts, cruises, or package companies alter a local community to suit the needs of tourists.

This might involve the building of a massive beachside resort on a Caribbean island or a stretch of Mediterranean coastline. It might involve sending hundreds of tourists at once off a cruise or a bus tour into a community, overwhelming it for a short time before heading off to the next place.

When you travel with Not In The Guidebooks, we aim to show you the most incredible sites, yes, but in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the local area. We aim to get you in small groups and in touch with small, local operators or locals themselves.

Our Hosts

And when you travel with the local people, you’ll get to experience genuine, authentic culture. Instead of sitting in the somewhat sterilised environment of a resort, you’ll be meeting local people, trying local food, and living life, for a short time, in a completely different culture.

For us, this is what travel is really all about – experiencing different ways of life, and new cultures. And trust us, when you do travel in an experiential way, actually doing new things and learning about new ways of living, you’ll return home a better-rounded person.

Popular Activity Holidays in Europe

Cooking & Walking in the Pyrenees

Spain, Spanish Pyrenees

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Learn French and Culture in Lyon

France, Lyon

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Surfing Experience in Ericeira

Portugal, Lisbon

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Classic Cotswolds Cycling – 6 Day Guided

England, The Cotswolds

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Benefits of Activity Holidays for Locals

This latter point brings us nicely round to how experiential travel can not just benefit us, but also the very communities we visit as we travel.

1.      Injecting Cash into Local Economies

Consider a holiday spent in an all-inclusive resort, where you’ve paid a big multi-national company a set amount of money which, once you arrive in the destination, covers your food, drink, accommodation, and anything else you might need.

When this happens, the local community this resort is built in see virtually no money whatsoever put into the local economy. Sure, there may be some that comes from the employment of local cleaners, chefs, and other staff, but realistically your money is going into the pockets of a large, multi-national corporation.

When you go on an activity holiday with Not In The Guidebooks, you will stay with, explore with, and eat with local people and in small, family-run businesses. Whether it’s staying in a beautiful country house in Gascony with a local host, or a homestay in Vietnam, as well as getting a flavour of what it’s like to really live in another country, your money will also be going straight to the local people.

2.      The Preservation of Local Culture

tram in lisbon streets

In many parts of the world, local traditions and cultures have been diluted, almost to the point of being lost entirely, thanks to over-tourism and the perceived need to pander to whatever the tourist wants.

Take a town like Benidorm or an island like Mallorca. Whilst if you look hard enough there are still remnants of traditional Spanish culture, much of it is lost in a maze of British or Irish themed bars; authentic cuisine has made way for foreign tastes, and small, family-run hostels or B&Bs have been raised to the ground to make way for towering hotels.

When you travel like a local, exploring with local guides to see the true culture and community of a destination, you are helping preserve that very culture and community by monetising it for them.

Unfortunately, in a world where money talks, making age-old traditions and authentic cuisine into a commodity is the only sure way to preserve it – and thanks to the phenomenon of experiential travel, this is one way in which you can help keep local communities around the world alive.


Here at Not In The Guidebooks, we offer a wide range of activity holidays in France, Spain, Portugal, England, Italy, and much, much more. Whether it’s a bucket list trip to South-East Asia, a chance to learn something new in Europe, or an unusual place to stay in the UK, we ensure that everything we provide gives you a chance to get off the beaten track and travel like a local.

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