The Joy of Traveling – Part II

The unexpected adventures of traveling like a local.

As you walk down what seems like a never-ending flight of stairs, the enormous vertical tunnel gets darker and mustier. You can feel the temperature drop the deeper underground you go. It was just a fluke that we decided to take a look through the White Cave (Grotto Bianca) in Castellana, Italy. Little did we know that the White Cave was, in fact, the end point of an epic Middle-earth adventure of a 2.5km walk through the Grotte di Castellana, the Castellan Caves. It turns out we stumbled into the most famous show caves in Italy. Being open to taking a chance and going off the beaten path gave us one of our more memorable experiences on this journey.

We rarely go on trips to experience mainstream sights; we aren’t looking for the expensive restaurants shown on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and we’re definitely not looking for some contrived tourist experience that requires sitting on a bus with 40 typical tourists that the Parisians just love to complain about. What we’re after is taking the time to settle into an area and really experience it from a local perspective. We’re not into staying at 5-star hotels, as the opportunity to stay in a Bed and Breakfast run by a family who is entrenched in the area has much more appeal than high-end room service. While we enjoy living like locals, we’re not going to the level of staying at a hostel. I don’t have anything against hostels, just to be clear, but we’re not in college and look for a bit more pampering. We definitely look for authentic locally owned facilities that are either full apartment type suites or part of a residence where we can comfortably enjoy an extended stay.

What thrills me most about traveling is the opportunity to immerse into and connect with locals. And more than that it’s getting the opportunity to hear their stories. Everyone has a story and given just the shortest opportunity over coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening; it is amazing what people will share if you just ask.


During our family trip to Italy, I mentioned in the first story, we did the obligatory run through the major Roman super sights, but what I was most excited about was taking our four kids to the hometown of my wife and the heritage of her familial roots. My wife and I had been to her hometown of Corato, Italy before, so we were excited to come back to this amazing part of Puglia and introduce our kids to a place where we fell in love with the locals. We had previously stayed in a rooftop garden apartment that had been lovingly restored by a couple who have turned into great friends. Antonio and Karla, what an incredible story they have! They have built an amazing collection of apartments out of a restored medieval Puglian stone dwelling in the very heart of Corato. We couldn’t wait to get there to see them again, see the new places they’d just completely renovated and to introduce our kids to them. Man, did we have an experience filled with more joy than we ever imagined.

Do you have a dream that has become the backdrop of your imagination? A place that is calling to you? When you close your eyes and envision yourself “anywhere else but here,” where is that anywhere else? Can you hear the people; what language are they speaking? Can you smell the air; what is that savory sensation? Can you feel the sun, the wind, the rain; how does it caress your skin? Can you see your dream of traveling; can you see it come true? Can you see yourself in that dream; how has it changed you; how has it nourished you; how has it enlightened you; how has it become part of your soul?

The Christian Travel Advisor1 is a commercial venture that provides insights and recommendations on Christian events, conferences and retreats for men, women and couples to grow closer to God.

Wherever you go, go in the name of the Lord Jesus, letting your light shine to the glory of God the Father.

Traveling is about impacting lives…one journey at a time. I want to hear more about the people who are taking their own journey of a lifetime and the local relationship aspect, but set against whatever geographic backdrop you find yourself. If you get a chance, share some of your travel stories in the comment section below.

Check back tomorrow for the next part of learning how to travel like a local.

1 Christian Travel Advisor. (2016) Retrieved from the Christian Travel Advisor website:

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More from Kendell:

The Joy of Traveling – Part I

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