I love to travel. I love the adventure of visiting unfamiliar places, meeting new people, discovering the history and relevance of an area. Every city, every new destination, offers a fresh perspective to life. Traveling is a gift – a gift for your soul. But is it really necessary to travel to exotic or far-away places to experience that euphoria? What if you could find it in your own backyard? Sometimes we spend so much time looking for cool experiences elsewhere that we miss out on what’s happening and available to us at home.
Not too long ago, my husband and I were sitting on a beach in the Caribbean enjoying a spectacular sunset, when it occurred to me that, back home, we literally have one of the most beautiful beaches in the world 10 minutes from our home. Life can be, and should be, an adventure no matter where you are, so why not become a “tourist” in your own town?
Do you even know what your town has to offer? Why not check it out? Take some time to explore new areas, re-visit old favorites, meet new people and try new things. You might just begin to see your neighborhood through a fresh set of eyes and reinvigorate your love for the place you call home.
So, how do you do it? How do you become a “tourist” in your own backyard?
- Plan it out – treat it like any other vacation you would prepare for. How much time do you have available to spend? What’s your budget? Do your research. When I am visiting a new place the first time, the first thing I do is google the “top 10 things to do” in the area. Research the best restaurants, best nightlife, local tour opportunities, and area calendar of events. Ask people in the area for suggestions. Let the internet be your guide.
- Get lost – Literally! Explore new areas. Pick places to visit that your normal day-to-day life and activities don’t typically take you to. Walk around and really take it all in.
- Try NEW things – Being a tourist, in your own town or really anywhere for that matter, is more than just exploring, it’s about the experience. Try things that you normally wouldn’t think to do in your town. Go paddle boarding, hiking, rent a segway or scooter, check out a peddle-pub, etc. Google the top recommended activity in your area (with good reviews) and just do it!
- Go back in time – Embrace your local history. One of the greatest benefits of travel itself is discovering the history associated with a particular place or city. Research your hometown and find out its historical significance. You might just gain a new appreciation for where you live.
- Document your adventure – Cheese it up! After all you are on “vacation”. Be sure to photograph some of your experiences and share them with family and friends.
I think T.S Eliot said it best when he wrote,
“And the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”
Stay curious. And, keep exploring.
On your own, with an AOII sister OR as an alumnae chapter…spend a day/weekend exploring your town and post your experiences on social media:
- Walk or bike around your town and explore areas that are new to you.
- Ask a local stranger for a recommendation for a place to visit or eat in your town.
- Take a tour or visit a museum, attraction, sporting event as if it were your first time there.
- Go to your town’s visitors center or local chamber of commerce for information.
- Research to find five interesting historical facts about your town’s history that you did not know before.
Be sure to tag #alphaomicronpi and #aoiitimotchallenge (AOII Tourist In My Own Town Challenge)!
Lori Goede is an alumna of Gamma Omicron (U of Florida) and a member of the Education Committee.