Stay Longer, Explore More

The idea of the digital nomad has taken off during the pandemic. So too has the idea of staying longer and exploring more to truly experience a destination as if you lived there year-round. North Americans have always jetted off to a Caribbean island in the winter for a week of fun in the sun, but rarely do these vacations stray from the resort. They’re all about leisure. Staying longer and exploring more is about truly immersing yourself in a specific destination.

There are some obvious benefits to staying longer and exploring more. For instance, it gives you the opportunity to eat where locals eat, go where locals go, and, most importantly, get to know some locals as new friends. Those casual experiences at cafés, restaurants, and grocery stores open up opportunities to engage with people you wouldn’t normally meet on the tourist trail.

When staying longer, it’s smart to choose a hotel or villa-style accommodation, which offers a blend of indoor and outdoor private spaces, and easy access to local amenities and attractions. It’s also worth splurging a bit on a room with a view, whether ocean, mountain, or city, and maybe a private pool or hot tub to help you unwind.

Walkability and convenience are key. You want to be able to easily get to local hotspots and cultural hubs. If you have a specific experience in mind, you also want to be able to access that experience with minimal fuss. For example, if you want to delve into a region’s wine culture, you’ll want four to six wineries nearby your accommodation—as well as a local driver available, so you can sample without risk. You won’t find this an issue in some of the world’s most popular wine regions, from the Douro Valley in Portugal to Tuscany in Italy, not to mention the many Australian wine regions, such as the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

An ideal destination to stay longer and explore more is one of the world’s five Blue Zones—Barbagia, Sardinia; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, California; Okinawa, Japan—where people reportedly live the longest and are the happiest and healthiest in the world. I recently had the chance to spend 10 nights in Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. We stayed at a beachfront property, which gave us some personal space and comfort, as well as easy access to waterfalls, national parks teeming with wildlife, daily yoga classes, and miles of uninterrupted beach to walk on.

A tiny red-eyed tree frog blends into a tropical leaf in the rainforest.

The Nicoya Peninsula offers the perfect atmosphere to stay longer and explore more. There are laid back surfing beaches stretching along the Pacific. Every evening at 5pm, you can join the locals on the beach and watch the spectacular sunsets of ever-changing purples, reds, and yellows. There’s an abundance of local dining that emphasizes fresh ingredients, especially freshly-caught fish cooked in either the Costa Rican or Japanese style. The people are friendly and the atmosphere is calm. You can understand why people live so long here.

It’s also a convenient base for exploring nearby parks. You can easily extend your trip to more popular regions, such as Arenal, where hanging bridges, waterfalls, volcanoes, and ziplines abound, as well as Monteverde, home to the fabled cloud forest. 

The birds of Costa Rica are particularly stunning, although don’t make the mistake of thinking you can go birdwatching without a guide. The jungles are dense and an expert guide has the equipment and experience necessary to spot all the delightful animals. My first time in Costa Rica, I ventured into Mistico Park on my own and saw nothing; the next time, I smartly went with a guide in the early morning and saw a delightful array of animals, from keel-billed toucans and magnificent scarlet macaws in the canopies to three-toed sloths dozing in cecropia trees and red-eyed tree frogs hiding under leaves. 

Whether you delve into a Blue Zone like the Nicoya Peninsula or venture to other beautiful destinations around the world, I encourage you to stay longer and explore more on your next vacation. Slow down a little, explore in depth, and experience the full breadth of what travel can be.

This article was originally published in Vol. 30 of Globetrotting Magazine.

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Carolyn Weppler
Carolyn Weppler

VP of Sales at Goway Travel -
Carolyn Weppler has tracked gorillas in Rwanda, been proposed to in Paris (she accepted, naturally!), and travelled to 70 countries, counting Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Russia, Sri Lanka and even Afghanistan among her travel memories. Originally from Hong Kong, Carolyn lived in the UK before settling in Canada. A self-professed ‘foodie’ traveller, her favourite destinations are Nepal, Peru, Uganda, and anywhere else where she can roam local markets and experience new flavours.

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