With quarantine varying from state to state and country to country, many people have had to cancel or postpone their travel plans. I know firsthand how heartbreaking that is. Even though I knew putting my travel plans on hold was the right thing to do, it still hurt. If you’re anything like me, you spend months counting down on a trip. To have it ripped away was painful — and I know I’m not the only one still working to accept the current state of the world, as many are struggling with the mental health effects of quarantining.
But, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to use this opportunity to explore the wonders of my home country. For years, I’d been meaning to have a “staycation.” Domestic and local travel has a myriad of benefits. Your staycation could be one of the best trips you ever take. From choosing your activities to preparing your mindset, here are my best tips for exploring the wonders of your home country.
At the moment, the most significant benefit of staying close to home is stopping the spread of the coronavirus. While prioritizing public health is certainly a plus, it’s far from the only advantage. To start, think back to when you first moved to your current home. Even if you’ve lived there your entire life, there’s a good chance you haven’t gone around town with the explicit purpose of trying to see it through the eyes of a tourist.
I, for one, have a long list of places I’ve been meaning to visit for years. In my home state, there are even more things I’ve wanted to do but haven’t. My home country? I’m pretty sure that list doesn’t even have an end. You see, like so many travelers, I prioritize big, international trips. While that’s led to a great many adventures over the years, I also feel like I hardly know my home country. When someone comes to visit, I’m often recommending activities I haven’t even done myself. Yikes!
It’s okay to not be happy about the circumstances that got you here, but a staycation is a perfect opportunity to do all those things you’ve been meaning to get around to doing. In addition, your bank account is sure to appreciate not having to shell out for a flight to the other side of the world.
No matter where in the world you call home, every place has its own local attractions. Some are guidebook-worthy while others are just, well, fun. Just because it’s not the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. In fact, in my experience, the quirkier a place, the better.
The takeaway here is not to dismiss any sites because of how silly they sound. One excellent resource for finding nearby architectural gems is the National Register of Historic Places. Open up your search to include neighboring states. Organizing a mini road trip will take your staycation to the next level. Just be sure you know the laws of the state you’re traveling to regarding fault in the event of an out of state car accident, or worse.
Another fun idea for your staycation is simply getting outdoors. You might not live near a National Park (if you do, color me jealous!), but there are likely still beautiful outdoor spaces worth exploring. Take a long walk or hop on your bike to explore your hometown. Try a new activity like metal detecting in the park or at the beach. Wherever you decide to go, pack lunch and make a point of finding a not-too-crowded spot for a picnic.
If you’re somewhere that is still under strict quarantine guidelines, consider taking a virtual tour of somewhere in your home country that you’ve always wanted to visit. For the United States, I’m planning on taking virtual tours of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Your mindset has the power to make or break your staycation. In order to set yourself up for a fun time, you need to approach exploring the wonders of your home country as if it were an actual vacation. If you’re like me, you enjoy traveling because it’s a chance to deviate from your normal, daily routine. Recreating that feeling during your staycation is the key to making it a success.
Take a moment to consider all the things you love to do on vacation. Then, get creative with how you can incorporate those things into your staycation. For example, if you like to try new foods when you’re traveling, pick out a new recipe to try at home. Or, if what you love about vacation is not having to cook, splurge on takeout at a nice restaurant.
Just as important as what you do on your staycation is what you don’t do. Remember, this is a chance for you to relax. Cleaning the garage and doing the laundry can wait. Those household projects on your to-do list will still be there when your staycation is over.
Trust me, I understand how disappointing it is to postpone travel plans. But, as you wait for the day it’s safe to travel internationally again, why not make the most of this time and get to know your home country better? You might be surprised by what a neat destination your own hometown or state turns out to be.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer that lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings. Find her on Twitter.