THE BLOG
09/03/2010 12:51 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

5 Good Reasons to Get the Hell Out of the Resort on Your Next Vacation

As a professional travel writer, there is nothing I would rather do than travel. I even love hating the security lines at the airport. So, when I say that I love resorts, because of the pampering while lounging on exquisite beaches with frosty drinks, I really mean it.

However, there is something amiss when I hear about a traveler "visiting Jamaica" but never leaving the confines of the resort. After all, most international vacationers will travel thousands of miles away from home on holiday. It would make sense to do some exploring of the vacation spot, no? Still, I know quality resorts offer a wide assortments of amenities: from spa to sport to archery to dance lessons and lots of food. There is no reason to leave the resort.

So, in response to arguments about leaving the lap of luxury for the unknown variables beyond the tall, well-manicured hedges of the resort, I offer five good reasons to get the hell out of the resort, at least for a little while, on your next vacation.


Excursions

Most great resorts are near great attractions. Whether it be a UNESCO heritage site, colonial town or ancient ruin, all good resorts will help provide a way to see nearby attractions. Take advantage of the opportunity.

Help the Local Economy
Lots of countries make a significant amount of their gross national product from visiting travelers. While I am not suggesting blowing your vacation bankroll outside of the resort, taking a little to spread the love to local businesses has a direct and positive effect on the local economy, and in many stores this means haggling over price, which can be fun.

2010-08-29-MenoraTower.jpgSave Money
While I love the pampering I get at the resort, extras like meals, gym and Internet access frequently are offered at a premium. Not that long ago, I stayed at a hotel that wanted to charge me $30 for a single day of Internet -- even though I only wanted to briefly check my email. I found an Internet store a block away for 75¢ an hour for a savings of $29.25.

Authentic Food
I know, I know. Most resorts do a good job incorporating local cuisine into meal options so visitors can get a taste of the local fair. Still, some of my favorite food memories include locals taking me to their favorite restaurants. Several years ago, I was in Malaysia and was supposed to have dinner atop the 421-meter high Kuala Lumpur Tower. I craned my neck up at that needle in the sky and felt a pang of vertigo. I asked my group's driver where he was going for dinner and was able to tag along. The meal turned into the most memorable and authentic of my visit to Malaysia.

Real People
After visiting more than 50 countries, one thing has been proven true -- while the resort is a wonderful experience for pampering and idyllic beach-side sunsets, the memories I consistently take home are of the new people I meet along the way. The inspiration for my own online magazine comes from a long lunch with a little woman from St. Lucia -- who provided the worst food, but the best company ever.

So next time you're enjoying a holiday at a great resort, consider a few hours to explore a local community. You'll be glad you did.