That sounds silly to you, doesn’t it?
Here you are, tired and desperately in need of a vacation and I pass hilarious comments.
For a majority of us, a vacation generally means getting out of our town to exotic places and unwinding, even if it involves enduring a long travel. A chance to get away and immerse yourself in a culture that is different from your own is a great learning experience that you cannot get in your own hometown.
I’m not saying that is a bad thing.
But there may be reasons you cannot get away for whatever reason. It may be easy to save for a trip if you can afford to, but sometimes it just may not happen. Due to massive hour cutbacks, you’re just not in a position to take your kids on that exotic vacation as you promised. What do you do?
Forgo a vacation all together? Or go ahead with your planned trip on a high interest credit card, and put yourself further in debt?
Fortunately, there are other ways of expanding your minds.
Vacationing in your hometown doesn’t sound exciting?
On the contrary, we tend to take familiar things for granted and we stop seeing anything new and exciting in a place we are so used to. But, you never know what adventures await you at your back door!
Your friends are visiting from some other town and you need to show them around. Being new, they cannot stop admiring every sight they see and you find it funny, because you have “seen it all.” Honestly, do you really know everything about your town? What about the surrounding areas?
In fact, until recently, if you asked me about the places to visit and see in my hometown where I have lived for many years, I would point you to the never-ending beach that my town is famous for, the beautiful valley, the mountains, the amusement park and my favorite restaurants.
Is that all there is to my town? No!! But I got so used to my routine that I have for long turned a blind eye to everything else that could be of interest to a tourist.
Seeing your own town through the eyes of an outsider can open the doors on amazing experiences, something we truly don’t do enough.
See my point?
According to Marcel Proust, a French writer – “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Sometimes, taking a vacation in your hometown will serve to renew your fondness for your city and refresh your tired nerves.
But first, pretend you have never been to your town – never. This is very important. Plan everything properly, as you would if you were going out of town.
Plan everything well in advance
What is your budget for the activities, sightseeing, local travel, food, and if you can afford – simple lodging – Vacationing in your hometown does not give you the luxury of not budgeting. You should determine how much you can afford to spend. If you are on a strict budget, make a note of what you can spend each day and stick to that. Plan your vacation during days you know there are going to be discounts at the various places you visit. Even restaurants offer discounted meals on specific days and nights.
The length of your vacation – A normal vacation when going with family lasts for a couple of weeks, but if your budget is tight, you can cut that back to four or five days. If you’re really smart and manage your limited funds well, you could still shoot for a week and find great ways to enjoy yourself without breaking the budget.
What are your passions – Make a list of what you want to see and do. If you’re going with family or friends, take into account what each one of them likes or dislikes. Choose activities that will satisfy your passions. Are you into nature or activities? Is anyone in your family an art lover? A foodie perhaps? Plan your vacation in such a way that you ensure everyone is happy. You will be surprised how many places you come across that you have never dreamt existed.
What does your town have to offer – Now that you have decided on what interests you and your family, look at what your town has to offer. Find out if there are any special festivals, events or activities during your vacation. Get hold of a guide book and visit all the places tourists visit, dine out and have loads of fun. Are there any museums you have not been to? You can even Google your town and find a list of tourist places. Finally, compose an itinerary to follow, which includes everything from the places you will be visiting, the time of the day you will start, activities you will participate in, restaurants you will eat at, money you will spend and your mode of transport.
Become a tourist in your hometown
Vacationing in your hometown is not going to be easy initially. You will have to work at creating the right mind-set. Increase the level of appeal by thinking like a tourist and seeing your town with the eyes of a person who has never experienced the sounds and sights of your town before.
If you can get your hands of Helen Hanff’s book ‘Apple of my eye,” read it. It is a beautiful tribute to her beloved New York, and was written after two months of exploring the city with her friend Patsy. Towards the end of the book, Patsy remarks, “We own this city now. Do you feel that way?”
Here are some vacation ideas:
Walk through your town
The best thing to do would be to do what you would normally do when you are in a new place. One of the best ways to take in the beautiful sights and sounds of any place is to park the car and walk. Walking without a destination helps you be more aware of your surroundings. Be curious, slow down and notice the small things, take photographs and immerse yourself in the experience. Even walking the routes you drive normally may expose you to a great place you haven’t discovered yet. If you live in Sydney, you can go on these walking tours. If you have kids and live in New York, you can check this out.
See what your hometown offers and you are sure to find something. Even if you prefer exploring the place by yourself, the idea is to take a journey that allows you to take a closer look at where you live.
Explore local markets
Exploring local markets is also a great way of spending time in your hometown. A stroll through a marketplace may be a beautiful experience. You will be surprised to find that there are many new markets; although, you have been living there forever. Market places radiate the essence of a city and allow you to get away from everything else while absorbing you in the rhythm of the city. You could go by yourself or with family or with visitors or friends and hunt for souvenirs of your place.
Eat authentic local food
Close on the heels of exploring local markets is eating local food. This may not sound so appealing if you eat local food at home all the time. But believe me, it is a great way to start thinking afresh about your culture and city. These restaurants may not be fancy or expensive; and you will be able to savor not just your food but your culture with renewed interest. Try to avoid places you often eat at.
Visit the famous landmarks
Every city has landmarks that visitors to the place visit. It must have been ages since you went to see any of those places. There are people I know (yours truly included) that have never visited some of the tourist attractions in their own hometown. That does sound bad, doesn’t it?
Taking your guests out is another great way of being aware of your own experience and your feelings. Take in all the sights and sounds with the eyes of a tourist. If you feel you cannot see your city with fresh eyes, borrow them! Let your visitors’ enthusiasm rub off on you. You could also pack a picnic basket and take your visitors to a famous garden or park, or take your visitors out early one morning to show them the sun rise from the highest point in your city. Your city is sure to surprise you with its breathtaking beauty.
Time to get into rediscovery mode now! Pretend you are moving out of the city and devote a weekend, or if you have the time, even a week or so to do all the things you will later regret not doing.
Visit the smaller towns close to yours
This is not considered going out of town, as they are very close to you. You will find at least a couple of good places that you can visit and have lunch at. Choose a route that is scenic and beautiful to drive on.
Book yourself into a good B&B
Just because you are on a vacation in your hometown, it does not have to take away the thrill of staying out of the house for a while. I’m sure for many of you, one of the best parts of vacationing is checking into a hotel. If you are out of funds, getting back home at nights is fine. But if you can afford, find a reasonably priced B&B and allow them to pamper you. Take some time calling some of them and finding out their best rates and if they are cheaper on any particular days of the week. Many of them offer discounts on several things, including spas attached to them. This way you could save a few dollars.
Talking of spas, if you happen to live in a town that has good spas, try to make the most of this opportunity. Detach yourself from your worldly concerns. Spas are considered to be the new balm for fevered souls. They provide revitalization, relaxation and rejuvenation for your body, mind, spirit and soul.
Don’t go home …
One most important thing to remember is not to go home during the day; especially if you are not staying at a B&B. Make sure you get away from all your daily activities. That will take the fun out of your vacation. Treat it like a proper vacation and you will get back home with thousands of stories to tell about the “new” place you visited – your hometown.
In all essence, you will find that your hometown is the same it was all those years ago. Of course there may have been many changes and the place would have spread in all directions, like most towns and cities have. Even so, you will find that its heart is the same.
Are you alone? Do you feel vacationing alone will limit your experience?
There are many that feel this way, but you must understand that while taking a vacation with others will build or solidify your bond; a solo vacation can be life-enriching. Your opportunities to integrate yourself into your local culture expand greatly, as you reach out and talk to people. You often discover “yourself” when alone.
Vacations are essential for families and individuals to recuperate emotionally, mentally and physically. Times may be hard and money tight, but you still need quality time free from the worries of the everyday grind of life – and your hometown will give you all that and much more.
Have a happy Staycation!!