Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you have to suppress your travel bug until next year! If you’re still itching to explore new places, I’ve got just the remedy for you: explore where you are! It seems like such a simple idea, but you’d be shocked how many people don’t follow it.
I meant to post this super helpful (I hope anyways), blog post earlier in the summer, but I think it’s still fitting now as you run out of vacation days, but it’s still warm enough to not want to stay indoors. Here’s what I wrote:
We’re about half way through the summer, but not all of us get to enjoy it to its fullest extent. Perhaps your job doesn’t let you have that summer get away or the vacation you planned with your friends didn’t work out. Or maybe, you just came back from an awesome trip and you’re having withdrawal symptoms. Whatever your reason may be: you want to find a good vacation that’s close by. Have you ever tried looking right in your own backyard?
That’s right! Chances are, where you live has a lot to offer that you just haven’t checked out yet. I remember some friends I made in Florida who had gone to school in the DC area. They had planned to explore all of DC, but kept putting it off because there would also be time. Then, entering their senior year of university, they were scrambling to see all the sites they could before they graduated.
I think in a way, many of us can relate to that. In Paris, I didn’t really start appreciating all the city had to offer and getting out to see more sites until my last few months. In my defense though – Paris was cold and miserable until my last few months. The sun is a great motivator for getting out of your house.
That’s why this summer is YOUR summer! You’re going to see all the sites – or at least many of them – that your city has to offer! Whether you grew up there, or you recently relocated, it’s time for you to feel like a tourist in your own town. Doing this will give you a much deeper appreciation of your town and give you a much deserved vacation for a small percentage of the price and headache of packing and transportation.
So with that, here are my top 3 tips for feeling like a traveler anywhere:
1. Visit your town or county’s welcome center
Many towns and cities have a welcome center for tourists. It’s packed with lots of useful information as well as historical information about your city. This is a great starting place to give you the lay of the land, some historical context, and probably even a free map. If your town doesn’t have a welcome center, see if your county, region or next largest town has one. After all, part of exploring your backyard, is looking for the hot spots that are just a day trip away.
2. Look up the top 10 things to do in your town.
We live in a digital age, so utilize it for all its worth! Find out what people are saying are the top restaurants, sites and things to do in your town – then go see them, do them, and eat them! I grew up in a really small town in Maryland and my friends and I were all confused there was nothing to do in our town. But turns out, every summer, people flock to our town for camping, fishing and the plethora of historical sites we have to offer. You appreciate your town a lot more once you see what people are raving about it for and then once you can verify those recommendations yourself. No matter how small, your town has a list of 5 to 10 top things to do. And if it doesn’t have one, perhaps it’s time for you to write one.
3. Invite someone to stay with you and play tour guide.
This is by far my favorite way to feel like a tourist in my “home town.” Having to show an actual tourist around gives you an excuse to see all those “touristy” locations you avoided in your attempt to look like a local. I talk here about the importance of visiting tourist locations when getting to know a city. When I was living in Paris, almost all the times I went to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Chateau Versaille, the Louvre and places like that, was because I was showing a guest of mine around. Even though I ended up at Chateau Versailles and the Louvre three different times, I enjoyed each and every single adventure! I also took a walking tour of my neighborhood, Montmartre, when my little brother visited me.
Which, by the way, if you live in Europe or other places where walking tours are common, I highly recommend taking a tour of your town, even if you grew up there! The guides are always so lively and funny and they know cool myths and legends so you might as well. If you’re still shy, invite a friend who IS a tourist as your excuse!
No matter where you live, you can always find something new to discover about your town. Don’t let the end of summer or lack of vacation days kill your sense of wander and adventure. Just change your idea of what “exploring” means!
What other ways do you use to get to know your local area better (whether you’re new to town or seasoned there). And let me know if you try any of these tips and how that works out for you!
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P.S. Starting this weekend, I’m moving the blog subscription platform so that I can send weekly updates, as opposed to a notification each time I post. (You’ll thank me later once you see what I have in store for September).