It’s so easy to get caught up making plans for our grandiose bucket lists that we often forget about a very accessible, extremely affordable destination: Our own backyards.
I know what you’re thinking: Traveling in your own backyard is the same thing as a “staycation,” right?
Well, whether you consider traveling in your own town, city, region or state to be a staycation is a matter of how you define it, but I like to think that travel inherently involves a certain amount of wide-eyed wonder and curiosity as well as the willingness to do something other than what your normal routine entails.
Think of all those things people travel to your hometown to do and see … now ask yourself whether you’ve done them yourself. For a lot of people, the answer is no, probably because you can do and see those things anytime you want. But what if you move tomorrow? What if you don’t have the chance to do so next week?
I encourage you to take advantage of the travel opportunities in your backyard. Here’s how:
Browse the free weeklies and local newspapers for event listings. Guest speakers at the library, free workshops at the community center, movie nights at the park and craft fairs at the schools. Concerts, plays, performances, parades, fairs and fundraisers are going on all the time in every town across the world. Certainly the bigger the city, the more opportunities there are to participate in local happenings, but even the smallest of towns have farmers markets, holiday celebrations and community dinners.
Drive a different way to your destination … or don’t drive at all! If you’ve got to drive across town, drive a different route. Go the long way. Or take back roads. Or turn down a random street then find your way from there. As you drive, really look and observe this new area around you. You could be anywhere in the world. What questions would be going through your mind if you were actually on a vacation? Ask those same questions here. Alternatively, don’t drive if you have to, and, instead, walk to your destination, taking in your neighborhood from a new perspective.
Support the local hospitality businesses. Stay at a local B&B or inn. Play a round of golf. Visit the museums. Rent a boat and spend the day on a nearby lake. Hit the slopes at your neighborhood ski resort.
Volunteer. Just as you might be interested in volunteering when you travel abroad, you can do so in your own neighborhood as well. Find out about opportunities working with under-served populations, in parks or on farms. It may not seem as exotic as it might if you were volunteering in someone else’s backyard, but the big difference is that you make a lasting contribution to your own community when you volunteer at home.
Take a long weekend. Beyond the things that might be available in your own community are those things within a few hours of where you live. We often overlook these things too. Confession time: Do you live in Arizona but have never been to the Grand Canyon? Do you live in the Caribbean but have never been snorkeling? Do you live in France but have never spent a day at the Louvre? Do you live within a few hours of some other landmark that other people intentionally visit but you’ve never actually been there yourself? Take a weekend trip and hit some of the other nearby highlights that can’t be visited in a single day.