Not everyone can travel to far-flung locations. Whether it’s because of a lack of money, vacation time, or something else. Blindness about your local area sets in when you live somewhere. But remember, your next door is someone else’s world-away door.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race. Social media can cloud your own experiences. Jealously might seep in. When you’re not an Instagram model or fabulously wealthy you might feel like your experiences aren’t as exciting. Remember, someone else likely looks at you that way. And a way to relieve this feeling is to step away from the computer and explore your own area.
I’m a worrier and one of those anxious creatives. I too have to step back and remember life isn’t a competition. When I travel it’s one of the few times I live in the moment, so when we’re unable to travel far, we travel close.
Here’s our process.
How to Find Places to See Near You
Open your mind. It’s hard to get over prejudice in your own area. Here’s what I mean. I’m from Central Texas and we’re taught from a young age to ignore Oklahoma. We have jokes and people talk about it like it’s some dull wasteland. My husband is British and brought a different perspective. We went a few weeks ago and had a fabulous time. Maybe there’s a place you’ve never given a shot in your area. You may surprise yourself.
Go Online. My favourite tool is Atlas Obscura. It’s a great community that’s helped us find out about local attractions. You can even add any new finds to the atlas. Keep an open mind and spend a day going to places. Other tools include Wikivoyage and Tripadvisor.
Browse Local Flyers and Tourism Boards. Chances are you haven’t looked at tourist brochures for your own town or home. Try it out! Your city might have its own tourism centre, why not check it out?
Search For Local Preservation and Park Organizations. Look at your local State Parks, National Parks, Museum boards, or the like. Our favourite is the National Trust in the UK. If you do some searching you’ll likely find something similar where you are.
Use Google Maps. Google maps have improved by leaps and bounds. It’s unlikely a strange ruin will appear on the map, but if you enter search terms into the search bar, you might find a gem. We recently found the Susanna Dickinson Museum this way by just inputting “museum”. Try putting in terms like these: “museum”, “park”, “attraction”, “tour”, “historical”.
Take a Walk. Take a walk in a new area. It’s good for you. Slowing down may make you see your home area in a new light. If you need more of a focus, why not take up geocaching?
Take photos! While you don’t want to spend the whole time on your phone or camera, you’ll be happy later you took a few.
Enjoy being a tourist in your own home. It’s not about the miles. It’s about opening your mind to new experiences, seeing new things, and learning about this beautiful crooked world we live in.