Seeing the same sights day in and day out, it's not surprising that we become unable to see and truly appreciate the wonders that surround us—those hidden gems become commonplace and are taken for granted.
But what if we shift our perspective back to the place of the beginner's mind? Where everything we see is new and can be seen again with childlike wonder. We don't have to go to the other side of the world to experience this, it could even be found in our own backyard… or maybe the next town over, where new corners and hidden gems are just waiting to be explored.
The idea of the Staycation has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years. But embarking on a journey as a tourist in your own country is not just a travel trend; it's an experience that can, if we let it, unveil the beauty and charm that familiarity may have obscured.
In this post, we'll dive into the art of rediscovery, seeking inspiration from the familiar and finding joy in the details often taken for granted.
From the quaint cafes tucked in narrow alleys to the historical landmarks echoing stories of the past, your local community holds treasures waiting to be unearthed.
Embrace the role of the explorer, and indulge in the same time-less, aimless, no-plan-plan wandering that you would if you were in a foreign country. You never know what you just might find.
Being a tourist in your own country means allowing spontaneity to guide your journey. Detour from your usual path, let curiosity be your compass and allow yourself to be amazed by the unexpected encounters. Perhaps a street performer is turning a mundane Tuesday into a melody, or stumbling upon a local market where artisans breathe life into their crafts, a street full of murals or an alleyway of tall trees caught in just the right light.
A Staycation doesn't have to cost the earth
A staycation can be near, or it can be far. When planning one's holiday the temptation can be to get as much punch for your pound as possible. And although travelling in Western countries can typically be more expensive, it doesn't have to be. Aside from the initial savings you make from not buying that expensive long-distance flight, there are also several ways to travel for less in the West.
With a bit of savvy planning, your journeys can be as enriching for your wallet as they are for your soul. From volunteer holidays to strategic use of railcards, here’s a guide to exploring the wonders of where you are from that lie a little further afield than the next town over.
1. Volunteer Holidays: Work Away and HelpX
Embark on a journey that not only satisfies your wanderlust near home but also gives back to the communities you visit. Platforms like Workaway and HelpX connect travellers with hosts seeking assistance. In exchange for a few hours of work each day, you get to stay for free and sometimes even eat for free. While at the same time gaining a unique insight into local life and the best-kept secrets of the area. This form of travelling forges connections beyond typical tourist experiences.
The work exchange arrangement gives structure to your day whilst still leaving plenty of time for exploring the area.
2. House Sitting: Your Home Away from Home
Imagine having an entire house to yourself, accompanied by a furry friend to take on your adventures. House sitting not only eliminates accommodation costs but also provides a more intimate and immersive travel experience. Platforms like TrustedHousesitters connect you with homeowners looking for responsible individuals to care for their homes and pets while they’re away, making it a win-win situation.
3. Railcards: Navigating on a Budget
If you’re exploring the UK or other Western countries, consider investing in a railcard. These cards offer significant discounts on train travel, making it a more economical and eco-friendly choice. Whether you’re commuting between cities or meandering through scenic routes, a railcard is the key to unlocking cost-effective travel.
4. Flying Smart: Maximising Flight Points
For shorter-distance travel, your flight points can go a lot further. Opt for local getaways and utilise accumulated points for these trips. This not only maximizes your reward program but also minimizes expenses, allowing you to explore nearby destinations without straining your budget. To take it a step further, plan ahead to catch flight prices at their lowest, booking them about 3 months before your intended travel date.
5. Embracing Local Travel: A Win-Win-Win Approach
Discovering the hidden gems of your own country through local travel is not only better for the environment, but it also fosters a deeper connection with your homeland. Engage with local communities, support regional economies, and save money on flights. A win-win-win approach that transforms your journey into a meaningful experience on many levels.
6. A Tourist in History: Learning Through Guided Tours
We may spend our whole lives living in a country and yet never fully grasp the magnitude of its history. Whilst travelling in your own country why not take it as an opportunity to brush up on some ancient history?
If you are from the UK or Europe we are lucky enough to be surrounded by the remnants of many ancient civilizations that have left their mark on our human timeline.
Consider joining guided tours of your local landmarks or historical sites. While you might be familiar with these places, a knowledgeable guide can unveil fascinating details, anecdotes, and historical context that breathe new life into the familiar. Becoming a tourist of your history can deepen your appreciation for the cultural richness that interweaves with your everyday surroundings.
7. Go on Micro-adventures: Turn the Weekends into a Holiday
Embrace the concept of micro-adventures—short, local escapades that inject a burst of excitement into your routine. Seek out nearby parks, nature reserves, or historical sites that may have eluded your existing exploration. By approaching your surroundings with fresh eyes, you’ll unveil a tapestry of wonders, transforming routine weekends into captivating micro-adventures.
8. Nature Immersion: Rediscover Local Green Spaces
Explore the natural wonders that often go unnoticed in your own neighbourhood. Take leisurely walks in local parks, botanical gardens, or nature reserves. Being a tourist in your own home involves finding solace and beauty in the green spaces that surround you daily, fostering a deeper connection with the environment and promoting overall well-being.
9. Local Photography: Through the Lens of a Tourist
Capture the essence of your surroundings through the lens of a tourist. Embark on photography expeditions to document the unique features, architecture, and daily life of your community. Viewing your home from a photographer’s perspective can reveal hidden details and perspectives, transforming routine scenes into captivating visual narratives.
10. Hidden Art: Street Murals
Seek out local art scenes, murals, and street installations that might be hidden in plain sight. Many cities boast vibrant street art that tells stories of community, culture, and creativity. Being a tourist in your own home means discovering the open-air galleries that contribute to the artistic identity of your surroundings.
By incorporating these strategies into your travel playbook, you not only save money but also open doors to authentic and enriching experiences. So, lace up your travel shoes, pack your curiosity, and set forth on an adventure that proves the riches of Western exploration need not come with a hefty price tag. Happy travels!