As the saying has it, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” This is especially true for travelers, as our restless feet long for the comforts of home when on the road, and dream of adventures in faraway places when at home.
Cultivating the Art of Hometown Travel
Trying to capture the spirit of travel is difficult when, for financial, career, personal, or health reasons, you have to stay home. It can be especially difficult if where you live feels too small, too provincial, or too familiar to you. This is when it’s important to indulge in ‘hometown travel’ in order to keep your restless spirit satisfied. From my own past experiences, this is admittedly never easy, although it is possible.
Here are several ways to keep the spirit of exploration and travel alive – even when hitting the road seems impossible.
1. Visit somewhere local that you’ve never been before.
Depending on the diversity and size of your town, there’s probably a new place or neighbourhood that you’ve never explored. Perhaps you’ve never visited your town’s Little Italy, science museum, or the local park rumoured to have the best beach in the city. Spending a day discovering an ethnic neighbourhood, visiting a new restaurant, checking out a visiting museum exhibit, or even taking a picnic to a new park, can all spark the spirit of adventure in the at-home traveller.
2. Play tour guide.
Do you have friends or family visiting soon from out of town, or know a friend who does? Offer to play tour guide for a day. Seeing even extremely familiar areas of your town through the eyes of a visitor allows you to recognize how it differs from other cities or has changed in recent years. Taking your guest to sample or see the city’s best offerings, from public monuments to ice cream shops, also gives you a wonderful chance to remember all of the reasons you enjoy your hometown!
3. Try a new experience.
Just because you’ve always wanted to try zorbing in New Zealand, eat Ethiopian cuisine in Addis Ababa, or attend Oktoberfest in Munich, doesn’t mean you can’t have similar experiences without visiting those cities. Finding local or nearby opportunities to participate in new challenges, events, and adventures can help satisfy your desire for travel, even when you can’t leave home.
4. Attend a local cultural event.
While it isn’t the same as visiting a different nation, attending cultural festivals can be a wonderful way to experience a brief glimpse of another culture. Wherever you live, the nearest big city to you probably has a host of cultural festivals and events. Attending one allows you to spend a day or weekend experiencing the food, music, and dance of a country or region that you’ve always wanted to travel to, without the heavy time or financial commitment.
5. Visit your nearest travel attraction, and act like a ‘tacky tourist.’
Let’s admit it, we’ve all been disdainful of tourists at one point or another. We snicker and tell ourselves we’re so much cooler than the average ‘tacky tourist’ who cavorts around attractions wielding over-sized cameras and selfie sticks while dressed in Bermuda shorts, sandals with socks, and ridiculous I LOVE VEGAS t-shirts and hats.
And yet, there’s something incredibly fun and liberating about becoming completely un-self-conscious and embracing your inner tacky tourist. Rounding up some friends for a day at the local theme park, a nearby curios museum, or a road trip to an odd tourist attraction can provide a day of fun and adventure, especially if you encourage everyone else to check their cynicism for the day.