More opportunities for international travel than ever before are available to ordinary people, especially students. The typical family vacation involving sightseeing and souvenir shopping is still by far the most popular type of tourism. However, travelers are increasingly opting for more involved forms of travel. New hostels are opening up all the time, while traditional all-inclusive hotel resorts are falling out of favor. All of this has led to the emergence of immersion travel programs.
Visitors to foreign lands seek an authentic experience. To satisfy that need, immersion programs are becoming more popular, especially on college campuses. Such programs allow travelers the chance to experience different cultures, learn new languages, and make lifelong friends.
Immersion programs allow guests to become truly engaged with a foreign country. Most programs will arrange for you to stay with a host family so you can learn the local customs. Your hosts will also act as expert guides for your stay in the country. For example, instead of being carted around in a tour bus, you will be encouraged to use the local public transportation. By living the life of a local, you will broaden your understanding of how different people think and act.
Grade schools and colleges alike are increasingly promoting exchange programs that allow a student to spend time living with a host family in a foreign country. The educational benefits of such travel are well documented. It broadens your mind, increases your empathy, and enhances your ability to cooperate with people from different walks of life.
This style of travel is also incredibly useful for those trying to learn a foreign language. Indeed, some might argue that living with local residents is the best way to study a new language. A student can pick up words and phrases while learning at home. However, to become truly fluent, you must speak the language dynamically and frequently. Bilingualism has been shown to provide great advantages, as Marti Diaz explains in her article, "5 Strong Arguments for Bilingual Education."
Finally, you will meet people abroad who could very well become your friends for life. Traveling in a new place away from the concierges and guide books is a unique experience that opens you up to social interactions. Being new in town encourages you to go out of your way to make acquaintances. Whether at a shop or a cafe, residents are often eager to provide recommendations to newcomers.
Traditional sightseeing will never cease to be a major component of the tourism industry. However, before booking an all-inclusive vacation package, consider participating in a full immersion program. This type of holiday is the perfect opportunity to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you'll be talking about for weeks.