When you think of local travel, what comes to mind? Being a tourist in your city? Maybe a staycation or a microadventure? These are great options for close-to-home adventures, but they aren’t the only ways you can get to know your backyard a little better.
Sometimes, the best way to approach local travel is from a completely new angle. Forget about hitting the touristy sights in your hometown — when’s the last time you left your exploration to chance or crossed something off your bucket list at home?
If you’re looking for fresh, unique, and out-of-the-box ideas for local travel, these tips are the perfect place to start.
1. Play a game of sightseeing roulette
What if I told you there was a way you could turn your backyard travel into an exciting and spontaneous game of chance? Just follow the steps below and keep an open mind, and you’ll be set for a day of impromptu exploration.
- Step 1: Choose a starting point in your city or a close-to-home destination that’s within driving distance. This kick-off point could be a popular landmark, a bus station, or maybe a coffee shop of your choosing.
- Step 2: Flip a coin and use the head or tails method to decide which direction you’ll walk. Alternatively, if you live in a larger city, you can try this: print out a map of the public transit system, pick twelve stops you don’t visit often, and then assign a number from one through twelve to each stop. Then, roll some dice and see what number — and what stop — comes up.
- Step 3: Go explore! Leaving your route or destination up to fate is a surefire way to discover new-to-you areas, familiarise yourself with different neighbourhoods, and stumble upon lesser-known gems you never knew existed.
2. Picnic your way through local green spaces
In the era of COVID-19, a picnic makes for the perfect excuse to get outdoors, enjoy local parks, and share a meal with friends and family (which is something we certainly appreciate now more than ever).
Yes, packing and transporting a picnic can be a bit of a hassle, but now that so many restaurants are offering conveniently packaged meals to-go, it’s never been easier to master the art of the picnic — even for the most effort-averse among us.
So, grab your homemade snacks or store-bought feast and choose a local park, beach, or green space in your city for a spot of al fresco dining. Bonus points if it’s a place you’ve never been before, or perhaps a new vantage point in an area you know really well.
3. Tick something big off your bucket list
Have you been dreaming of going skydiving or zip lining? Maybe you’re keen to try stand-up paddleboarding or take a surf lesson. Or, perhaps it’s another activity that doesn’t fall into the category of extreme adventures — something like honing your photography skills or learning to sail.
Regardless of what’s on your list, write out all the things you’ve always wanted to do, and figure out which ones you can try at home or somewhere relatively close by.
If you want to tackle something like, say, a multi-day trek but you’re not sure how to go about it at home, check out tour companies that offer hiking trips in your area. This way, you can leave the planning to the pros and take advantage of all the benefits of a guided tour — from the expert tour leaders to the added peace of mind and so much more.
As globetrotters, we tend to seek out new adventures and once-in-a-lifetime experiences when we travel, but who says you have to set foot on another continent to give any of these activities a whirl? See what you can accomplish in your own backyard instead!
4. Get ideas from local bloggers, vloggers, and influencers
Since backyard travel is a big trend right now, you’ll likely see your favourite influencers spending more time exploring their home cities, states, and provinces — and this is great news for anyone who’s after some local travel inspiration.
After all, these adventurers are highly skilled when it comes to seeking out hole-in-the-wall restaurants, underrated attractions, and off the beaten track destinations of all sorts.
So, let’s say you live in London and want to see what bloggers are getting up to in your neck of the woods. Simply search for “bloggers based in London” or “London + bloggers”, and voilà: you’ll be one step closer to uncovering a treasure trove of unique things to see and do in your area.
5. Find the best foodie spots within driving distance of your home
Have you ever planned an international holiday around food? Why not try the same thing where you live?
To organise a local culinary-focused getaway, seek out foodie hotspots located within an hour or two drive from your hometown. Pull up a map and scope out all the places you’re interested in visiting, whether it’s a major city, a remote town, or something in between. Then, narrow down your options and start researching the best places to eat in your chosen destination.
From there, you could take it one step further and make a list of additional restaurants to try based on recommendations from the people who live in the town or region you choose to explore. Strike up a conversation with the restaurant staff and ask where they recommend you go next in that area.
Not only will you come away with newfound local travel inspiration, but you’ll also have a great excuse to get out of town and explore nearby regions more in-depth.
6. Crowdsource local travel ideas
Whenever you’re on the lookout for things to see and do in your area, don’t forget to ask your friends, neighbours, or co-workers for recommendations — the restaurants they love, the places they go to get closer nature, and the cities they visit for a weekend escape.
It’s always fun to learn about other people’s favourite spots, and you never know what you’ll discover thanks to their suggestions.
If you’re after more options from outside your circle of family and friends, head to a website like Spotted By Locals, where you’ll find insider tips on everything from attractions to sights, restaurants and shops. Searching for “the top things to do in [insert city]” on Reddit is another great way to uncover fresh recommendations.