There is nothing more important when traveling than connecting with the world around you. Typically, you would do this by eating local food, speaking with residents, and learning as much as you can about life in that specific locale.
Additionally, you also want to be connecting with the nature that you encounter. To help you brainstorm ideas for your next trip, read on for five fun ways to connect with nature while traveling.
1. Spend time in a park.
No matter where you are traveling, you want to make sure that you are breathing in fresh air every day. Even if you’re visiting a busy metropolis, you want to find a place where you can bask in more natural surroundings.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by opting to spend some time in a park. Perhaps you can take your lunch there one day, or spend an afternoon lying in the shade with your latest read. And, if the park has a pond, even better! You can watch the ducks waddle while releasing all your stresses.
Alternatively, a park is a great place to do a workout while you are on the road. Usually, parks have trails that are ideal for running, walking, or biking. So whether you are following a hardcore training program or you just want to get your blood pumping with a brisk walk, you can make that happen in a park. Then, once you have done your workout, reward yourself with a little relaxation time under a tree.
2. Participate in eco volunteering.
Many parts of the world have a severe need for environmental volunteers. More and more environmental organizations depend upon international volunteers to aid them in their work and to contribute financial support. By choosing to do eco volunteering during your travels, you are connecting with nature while also helping to support its long-term survival. This is because you are actively participating in the preservation of an area or species.
Throughout your volunteering experience, you will discover and learn new things, explore new parts of the world, build your resume through volunteer experience, gain new skills, and make a difference in conserving the environment. Your participation can help to increase the amount of work that can be done and the number of species that can be protected.
3. Book a watersports class.
Spending time on the water is a fantastic way to connect with nature while also doing a fun activity. For example, one of the most peaceful ways to connect with water is by doing a spot of stand-up paddleboarding. The water in the UAE is ideal for this as it is flat, so you are more likely to be able to maintain your balance. Stand-up paddleboarding is a great workout, and you can also opt to do some meditation or yoga while on the board.
Another option for connecting with water is to rent a kayak or join a kayaking expedition. For example, if you opt to go kayaking in Ajman, you can see up close the nature reserve’s tidal creek and mangrove forest that is abundant in birdlife. Here, the stunning waters are ideal for a kayaking (or windsurfing) experience that you will never forget. Once you are finished, you can continue to connect with nature from the comfort of the café.
4. Visit a botanical garden.
Botanical gardens are lovely attractions that focus on plants and natural spaces. By visiting a botanical garden or an arboretum, you can experience lush gardens while deepening your knowledge of local ecosystems. Each botanical garden has a unique collection of plants that allows you to look at species you may not be able to see elsewhere.
What’s more, these places work hard to inspire an appreciation for plants and the critical role they play in sustaining the Earth’s ecosystem. Spending time in a botanical garden is a fantastic way to learn more. You may find that the botanical garden has a series of workshops or lectures covering a range of relevant topics. Moreover, some gardens also have butterfly gardens where you can witness these beautiful insects float and flutter around you.
5. Partake in an outdoor escape room.
An outdoor escape room is an adventure game where participants have to answer a sequence of puzzles and mysteries from clues, hints, and tactics in order to escape. While there are various indoor escape rooms around the world, outdoor escape rooms are also beginning to emerge.
For example, in Slovenia, there is an outdoor escape room where the goal is to uncover a secret society. In Dubai, there is a desert-themed one inside a caravan! These are just two of many examples of ways that you can partake in a fun game, while also connecting with the nature around you.
Do you like to connect with nature when you travel? If so, how do you generally prefer to do it? Any tips or tricks to share with other readers? Let us know in the comments below!
Rasha El Saleh is the Conservation Education and Outreach Coordinator in the education team of Emirates Nature-WWF working on its programme, Connect with Nature. She leads the outreach and youth empowerment aspect in growing the Connect with Nature community within the UAE and providing opportunities for youth to lead in this community, in addition to supporting partnerships with vendors supporting and promoting active aspects of the programme.