There seems to be a preconceived notion that travel must consist of grand and expensive holidays halfway around the world. Or that we must leave our current country for it to count as a “holiday”. This leads us to neglect our own backyard, whether that be our city, province/state, or country.
We tend to think that visiting our own backyard is “boring” or “uncool” when really, every destination can be amazing if only we open our minds to it. This fact is something that I was not aware enough to realise until after I moved to the UK. Admittedly, I have not seen much of Canada – I’ve only ever been as far east as Edmonton. Part of the factor was not much holiday time, so when a two-week holiday rolled around, US destinations like California or New York seemed much more appealing. But that really is just a poor excuse. I was neglecting my own country.
After I got married (in the UK), I went for a total period of about 1 year (split up into a few chunks – not all at once!) without my travel documents (namely, my passport and/or visa) while waiting for new visas and my name change to be processed. I need both my passport and my visa in order to get back into the UK, so if I don’t have one or the other, I essentially can’t leave the UK.
Instead of moaning that I was “stuck” in the UK, we decided to seize the opportunity to travel within the UK. We’ve road-tripped along the coast of Northern Ireland, travelled extensively through the Scottish Highlands, visited London on 3 occasions, and taken short overnight trips to cities like Newcastle, Stirling, and York. It’s all about your mindset – trust me.
Here are some of my more concrete reasons for why you should explore your own backyard:
1. Become An Expert
I would hazard a guess that in Canada, it is often the lack of holiday time (compared to countries like the UK and Australia) that is the #1 excuse for not exploring your own backyard. However, if you are fortunate enough to have statutory holidays off, why not use them to your advantage? Long weekends can be great for micro trips to areas that are relatively close by. Day trips are another consideration if you have nothing planned for your weekend. You can discover hidden places that most tourists would not know about. Taking weekend or day trips often can allow you to become an expert in your own backyard, and when people come to visit you, or if you find people looking for advice on a Facebook group or a forum, you’ll have an impressive knowledge base to rely on!
2. More Sustainable Way of Travelling
Let’s face it – travelling is not that sustainable. Most travel relies on the need to take flights, which drastically increases our carbon footprint. (While there are many other things that we do on a daily basis that increases our carbon footprint without us realising, that’s for a separate blog post!) This is where exploring our own backyard is great because generally speaking, this would involve no flights – though I know this may not always be the case, especially if you plan to explore your country and it’s geographically big! So far, all of our holidays and wee trips in 2019 – to London, York, and Perth – have been by train!
On top of that, exploring your own backyard would generally mean you’d be staying within your own country, so you’d be helping the local economy by feeding money into it instead of spending it elsewhere.
3. Be Proud of Where You’re From (or Where You’ve Chosen to Settle)
I think we are all proud of where we are from, but do most of us know much about it aside from what we learned in school? There is always something new to learn by exploring your own backyard, and especially so if you connect to and interact with locals in areas you’re visiting for the first (or not first!) time. By learning more about where you grew up and its surrounding areas, you can become even more proud to be from there.
As for me, I will always be a proud Canadian, and I will always explore new places when we go to visit Vancouver (as we have on our last 3 visits), but for the time being, Edinburgh, Scotland, and the UK are my backyard, so I will take full advantage of that.
There is always somewhere new to explore – we just have to open our eyes and welcome it with open arms.
Do you enjoy exploring your own backyard? What have been some of your favourite discoveries? Let me know in the comments!