Yes, I am sure you’ve heard all the Eat-Pray-Love-Esque tales about how getting out and seeing the world is life-changing.
Yet why isn’t some of this wealth of personal growth extended to experiences gained in the corners of our world?
Playing tourist in your home country is fun, inexpensive. And if we are to go by the information on official tourist websites “has plenty to offer visitors”,
So why do we continually seek happiness outside our own backyards?
As I was saying in my last post, it all feels gift-wrapped with the narrative that you have to spend lots of money and/or over-consume in to be happy.
This is why I want to talk today about playing tourist in your home country and how you can do it.
Not only is it easy, fun and an amazing way to achieve personal growth, it is also sustainable. You can still get all the feels of traveling without the hassle (and expense) of travelling abroad.
And another thing…
playing tourist in your own country is just one teeny way to give back to the local community.
We are still living in a time when local businesses are struggling from dwindling tourism levels, stop-start opening times, and even lengthy hiatus. But, even more, bigger than us, we can also help the planet.
(There’s much to say about responsible travel but not for today)
So wondering how you can play tourist in your home country?
Here are 8 easy ways you can do exactly that!
Snap Pictures of Your Local Area
Photography and travel go together like the sun and sea. A picture tells a thousand words and freezes a moment forever lost to time. Now, getting out and about with a camera has become a great hobby. It really helps you “see” the area from another perspective.
You don’t need anything too snazzy to get started. The camera on your phone is perfect for this. Obviously, if you decide further down the line that you want something a bit nicer, go for it, but it isn’t necessary now. In any case, I have it on good authority that it’s a skill that takes the epic shot, not the camera.
No matter how many times you venture somewhere, there’s always something new to see. The lighting, scenery, vibe, even your vibe, and ever-increasing level of skill.
Even if you’re not following your skill religiously, Google will remind you, and it’s nice to have something mapping your progress.
There are areas here that I didn’t feel an immediate spark for, but getting out and exploring with the camera has reminded me there is beauty everywhere. So get out there and discover where you are. And… you never know, maybe pick up a hobby and/or skill whilst you’re at it!
Catching a Sunrise/Sunset
Why do we intentionally watch the sunrise and sunset when we are away from home? Travel bloggers everywhere always make a point of including the best spots to head to watch one. What’s interesting is that we are willing to fork out 100’s, go through the hassle of jumping on a plane to enjoy the same glorious light that makes its way into our home town!
Let’s change that.
There isn’t much difference aesthetically between sunrise and sunset both emit the most incredible golden light.
But for instance, in Malta, waking up before everyone else to play tourist is another opportunity to see the island differently.
I bet it’s the same where you are. So just know you’re in for a treat.
Are you team sunrise or team sunset?
Personally, I prefer the stillness of sunrise. For me watching the sun boldly pop out from below the horizon as the tide ebbs and flows is such a breathtaking experience that often moves me to the point of tears.
Oh, and waking up to watch the sunrise (and/or) sunset has other benefits too. For instance, setting your circadian rhythm. So you’ll see a fantastic phenomenon and get a good night’s rest. Result.
Have a Staycation
Why not take your playing tourist in your country one step further by staying a night away at a boutique hotel or a guesthouse? It doesn’t have to be expensive or for too long. As I said earlier, you can really make a difference to the local community by “shopping locally”.
One of the things I love about staycations are the links to community and wholesome experiences. You can’t always guarantee this when you’re away from home, but you can’t go wrong with that on your doorstep.
There’s always something to learn, no matter how small. Go with an open mind and really play tourist. Have a chat with your host, find out their recommendations and even unearth m0re gems.
Staying at The Loft we were lucky enough to chat with the owners, who had a wealth of knowledge about the local village, past, present and future. They also had a list as long as your arm for things to do, including local walks, recommended eats and additional tips.
Revel in your Town’s Top Tourist Attractions
You may have noticed I have several photos of Popeye’s Village, which is one of Malta’s top tourist attractions. Millions visit this instagrammable film set. But, it’s in my back garden. The point is, I am sure you have several places like that where you live.
Top tourist attractions that people clamber to reach annually. Let that marinate. Do you realise just how lucky you are? I ask this because I used to work moments from Tower Bridge and don’t think I truly appreciated the fact. Not until I left.
So revel in your countries top attractions and remind yourself that you more or less have it to yourself throughout the year. It is a chance to see it (and snap) during all seasons, peaks and troughs, and in a different light. So go see it.
Scope out a Local’s Travel Recommendations
If you’re unsure where to start or need a little bit of inspiration on where to go for your travels, why not read through a local blog?
A local travel blogger has time and passion for seeking out adventures. This usually reaches far beyond a bog-standard top 10 curated by a passing traveller.
You may even be able to find a deal on a local website that has offers specifically for locals. For instance, there are days when museums and other cultural experiences are free in Malta. In some cases, there are concessions available that may well be unknown or outside the scope of the passing traveller.
Don’t know any local travel bloggers? Don’t worry, time check your countries official tourist websites. That’s a great place to get started.
This brings me onto…
Create Your OWN Local Travel Itinerary
So you know how now you’re playing tourist, taking pictures and gaining all this extra local knowledge?
Why not start creating your own travel itinerary. I made all my Malta Travel guides through exploration and effectively playing tourist.
By slowing down and taking pictures, you naturally begin noticing more details and become more curious when out and about. And besides, there are benefits for both you and the reader in your doing this.
I love blogging because of the shared experience, be it entertaining, helping and learning.
You know the saying… First, you travel, then you become a storyteller? Well, it totally applies in this case. So get out and explore and sharing your own stories.
You will have all the first-hand knowledge of where to go, when, best bus routes, things to avoid as well as any.
Go on a Hidden Gem Hunt
When playing tourist in your own country, you have something most travellers don’t – The luxury of time.
There was a time I used to scramble from country to country, desperate to seek out everything all in one day.
Of course, in reality, I didn’t see anything – not really. It was a mindless rush to tick everything off.
But thankfully, you don’t have to cram in tourist attractions/hidden gems.
You can even make it more fun to try and unearth new gems without the help of Google. Turn it into a hidden gem hunt; this is how I discovered the coral lagoon – A gem in Mellieha. Trying to find it took me a couple of weekends of hiking to find, but it led me to find other treasures.
Take a Walking/Cycling Tour
Another excellent way of playing tourist is to go on a walking/cycling tour. It is fun, relatively cheap, and you come away with lots of newfound knowledge about a place you probably past each day.
Most countries offer these at different times, with some based on route levels and interest. For instance, in London, I went on an evening history tour. You can opt for a ghost one in Malta based on many (true) scary stories… if you dare, of course.
Learning the history and stories connected to the place, add another layer to where you live.
For instance during my trip to Brighton (UK), my friends and I took a cycling tour. There was a surprising amount of things to learn about the city that went beyond the famous seafront.
Besides I bet it may just surprise you how many points of interest you pass every day without a second glance.
Final Thoughts on Playing Tourist…
The fact of the matter is: there is beauty everywhere. Stowed away and hidden in everyday corners. All you need to do, is get out and about in your home country and discover it for yourself.
And no time like the present.
Have you played tourist in your home country yet? Tell me in the comments which tip you enjoy most? Or if you have yet to play tourist, tell me the one you will use to get started?