When my friends and I started Travel Basecamp a few years ago, we did it with the objective of becoming "guides" for the kind of travel we had always been doing but didn't yet have a name for — that kind of travel being, buying all-inclusive resort packages and then treating the hotel like a locker room for our suitcases and passports and for taking the occasional shower, but spending all our time outside the gates in search of a truly authentic experience with our destination. It wasn't long until we decided to call our method of travelling "basecamping."
Resorts and adventure don't really go hand in hand. People go to resorts to relax in the lap of luxury, while adventure-seekers typically opt to avoid them at all costs. I myself am not a stereotypical resort-goer. I have no desire to sit by a pool and drown myself in unlimited cocktails, so why would I be eager to adopt this kind of model? Stop thinking of your resort as a place to relax, and start thinking of it as your basecamp.
Booking a resort means you have a safe place to keep your valuables; you have access to phones and the internet almost constantly; and should any issues arise, people with a vested interest in helping you resolve your situation are there for you. Plus, as a woman, I like to be able to sleep in a place where I feel safe, and resorts are filled with people at all hours.
Provided you or at least one person in your entourage is personable and outgoing, you'll be able to discover all the local secrets and must-dos by venturing out into the actual community to interact with and ask the advice of the people who live there. These are not the people hired by the hotel to come to pitch you day trips to Señor Frogs (a popular Mexican chain where most visitors are driven to); these are people who know where you can get the best meal and find the most spectacular view, and who can guide you to the site of a local miracle.
An amazing deal on an all-inclusive package can always be found, and when you book your flight and accommodation together (which always includes travel to and from the airport), you save a chunk of change. Plus, because your food and drinks are included in your package, you can stuff your belly and satiate your thirst before and after you venture outside (you can even stuff some fruit in your pockets) to save some shekels on snacks throughout the day.
Although it might sound like I travel full time, I don't, and I don't have time to be online, researching all the possibilities for destinations, accommodation and the logistics of transportation. When I decide to go somewhere, I find the resort and pick my dates — that's it. It's on the calendar, and there is no turning back. I will handle the adventure-seeking once on site.
The key to basecamping is in talking to people. Talk to the people who work at the resort. Talk to your cab drivers and to the people who serve at the restaurants that surround the resort. It's amazing what you can uncover when you express interest in discovering more, as it brings out local pride, and everyone enthusiastically offers advice.
In the past few years, my friends and I have travelled to the most popular, stereotypical resort destinations and have had the most unpredictable and surprising adventures you would never imagine you could have while staying at an all-inclusive. From discovering local delicacies in the smallest restaurant on the outskirts of town, to an impromptu fishing expedition with a friend of a new friend, to stumbling into a backstreet lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) ring and getting a lesson, we have always been met with great kindness, shown incredible hospitality and left with a deep appreciation for the people and the culture of that region.
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