Is visiting family the best way to travel?

My family's farm in hills of Medellin

I have mentioned my adventures in Colombia on my own blog, but I wanted to delve into an area I haven’t mentioned before that does not involve Colombian cuisine. I want to talk about how personally enriching it has been for me to be lucky enough to have immediate family in South America and how visiting them is so different than traveling to an unknown area with no friends or relatives in sight.

If you read my first post on my blog, I relayed how I have been visiting Colombia, albeit somewhat inconsistently, since I was eight years old. That being said, I have only ever traveled there with the intention of visiting uncles, aunts, and cousins, as well as mainly traveling for specific family functions and events (birthdays, weddings, etc.). I have been blessed to not only have people who care for me and want to see me, whether I am in Bogota or Medellin, but also to have always had somewhere to stay and relatives to show me the best places to visit, socialize, and eat. As often mentioned here at Marginal Boundaries, being able to live like a local is the best way to live in another country, and I have been given that opportunity every time I arrive in Colombia.

Family time in Poblado, MedellinDon’t get me wrong; there is nothing like visiting a new country and not knowing much about it let alone any of the locals. I have visited both Dubai and Montreal under this condition, aside from knowing my initial friend who invited me to both places. What was nice about both of these visits was that my friend who had been living in both areas for at least a month each time already knew where the best places were to eat as well as things for sightseeing. But while he knew these things, he still had not been there long enough to truly know the local secrets when it comes to scoring certain deals on local cuisine, living and shopping.

Which then brings me to my next point: this was what made the aforementioned visits interesting. I found myself enthralled by the opportunity to explore Dubai and Canada with someone who was comfortable living in both cities enough to make you feel comfortable, but who was still exploring and discovering new things that I was able to be involved with experiencing also.

What makes traveling exciting for me is often the polar opposite experiences; one can enjoy themselves immensely while in the company of family and friends who are locals and know the area, and can thus put you on the fast-track to living like a local, but one can also enjoy the unknown of a new country with only one (or no) companion. I cannot choose which way I enjoy traveling the most, merely what I have learned is that every trip is an adventure worth having.

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About Paulette Hernandez

My name is Paulette Hernandez (aka Globetrotting Foodie) and I am an intern for Marginal Boundaries. I have traveled to Bogota, Medellin, and Cisneros, Colombia a number of times to visit my family, and I have also had the opportunity to travel to Dubai, UAE and Montreal, Canada. I have always enjoyed traveling and hope to continue to do so. What I truly enjoy about traveling is all of the delicious, cheap, and readily available food! I think recipes passed down generations are the gateway into an unknown culture and that a person can learn a lot about a country’s past and present through their local cuisine. The way to my heart is my stomach, and thus I also learn the heart and soul of a culture!

4 Comments

  • Living like a local is the only way I roll :) Although for me, I don’t have family members in other countries, such as Paulette has. And while I don’t do homestays, it’s an intriguing concept. For me, I usually prefer the privacy of my own apartment/house rather than sharing with room-mates, so while it might be an interesting cultural experience, my preference is to always have my own home wherever it is that I’m based and then interact with the local friends I meet on my own terms.

    You’ll have to tell us more about your time in Kyrgyzstan and Cuba!

  • I love it when a family member goes and lives somewhere great – and I’m on the next plane to visit them. Luckily I’ve also got lots of family in New Zealand and Australia, as well as Belgium and Holland. I agree there’s nothing like staying with a ‘local’ person. Even better is a homestay – I’ve had wonderfully authentic experiences in Kyrgyzstan and Cuba.

  • Thanks for the comment, Bret.

    I’ve done both. I’ve traveled as part of a couple, and as a solo adventurer. I have to say, there are pros and cons to both sides for me. You can do more/be more flexible with your itinerary as a solo traveler, but I think you miss out a lot on the “sharing” factor. There’s a lot of things I’ve seen along the way (animals, countryside, sunsets, etc.) that just wouldn’t have been the same had I been alone, but with someone along for the ride I can do the ol’ nudge nudge, “Wow, that’s wicked cool, no?”

  • Not for us, it’s not! I mean, you pretty much have to do it, but I think the benefits of it depend on 1) how well your likes/dislikes match that of your family and 2) where said family is located. In short, Colombia is a lot cooler than, say, the suburbs of New Jersey, where we’re headed to visit family in 2 weeks.

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