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Reasons To Explore Being a Local Travel Expert This Summer

I could start by telling you how staying closer to home will help benefit the earth or that you will be contributing to sustainable travel and while that is definitely a lofty reason to do it, there’s so many more reasons that might hit a little closer to home.  We all have dreams of places that seem more exotic or scenic than our own corner of the earth but there’s so much right under your nose that has yet to be discovered and appreciated.  Take the challenge this summer to go on a local scavenger hunt and re-acquaint yourself with how beautiful your hometown really is.  It’s okay to be selfish right now, check out what’s in it for you.

Just a Reminder…

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Local travel is cheaper.

A local trip to stay at a nearby downtown hotel always feels like a treat to me.  Whatever the cost might be, it typically only costs you for the hotel stay, maybe parking, gas to get there, dining, and possibly some nearby entertainment. 

A trip greater than 400 miles by car will cost you more in transportation expenses including a possible rental car. It will also cost you more time and money in convenience stops along the way.  

Your local hotels may also have specials for state residents.  Many hotels in FL offer discounts for Florida and Georgia residents, so your nearby states may do the same.

Don’t forget how much being a local expert helps you save because you know how much things cost, what places have things for less, and whether or not you are really being offered a good deal on something.

There’s no argument that the further you go away from home, the more you’re likely to spend on everything from passports to forgotten items and airport necessities while in transit.  So, take it easy on yourself and your pocketbook this summer and explore in your own backyard. 

You could travel more often.

By deciding to explore locally in every direction, you could break it into small trips from one day outings to weekend adventures.  Instead of one big trip this summer, you have the opportunity to make your whole summer feel like a nonstop getaway.

You can focus on nearby festivals, art exhibits, beaches, hiking trails, scenic rides, historic monuments, or whatever is in your neck of the woods.

You can perfect your travel style.

You will get clarity on what you really need to bring with you after each outing that you take.  You’ll see that maybe, you’ve been severely over packing or there are a few gadgets that could

simplify your travels.  You will become a pro at traveling fabulously for you and limit the losses and mistakes that we often make because we don’t have a system in place.

Systems keep us organized.  We rarely lose anything when we travel because we each take care of certain things and then we all do a sweep of the hotel room separately one last time.  Believe me, it wasn’t always this easy.  After replacing a charger cord for the 13th time or leaving your favorite “bath and body works” bath gel again, you start to get really good at making sure you don’t forget anything anymore.

You will also learn new things about yourself as your travel style develops:

  • Which hotels you really don’t like
  • How to plan your road trip for optimal kid time, no more “are we there yet?”
  • Which toys they should bring with them
  • Which bathrooms are best when you’re out and about
  • Which gas stations you prefer and why
  • Which fast food restaurants have the best vegetarian options
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You find local specialties

You will be supporting your local economy and start to really notice your local producers.  You may find goods that you didn’t know existed and now can’t live without.  You’ll find new ways to enjoy the world around you which enriches your days as well as provides support for the vendors near you.  

17 Things You Need for Your Next Road Trip

More Flexibility

There’s so much more to worry about when you have flights scheduled, transfers, and other extras that are usually non-refundable.  Every minute counts and any unexpected changes could create a domino effect in your plans.  

When you travel locally, you can be spontaneous.  You can cancel just as easily as you made plans.  You can stop at places you didn’t know existed as you find them along the way.  There’s no hurry to get to the airport, you can extend your plans if needed.  

How many times have you said,” I wish I had more time here?”  When you travel locally, you can come back next week, next month, whenever you want.

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Build more connections

Sometimes, we think we know the story of a place because we grew up near it and we’ve heard the story many times.  But, when we explore slowly, we read the markers more carefully, we notice that one exhibit in the corner of the museum, and we take in more of our surroundings. 

You’re no longer trying to cram it all in just to have done it.  You’re now absorbing more of it and growing more connected to the landscape and your neighbors.  Travelling locally actually allows you to slow down and enjoy your home more.  

Want to connect to it deeper?  Take up photography, drawing, painting, anything that has you admiring your surroundings with wonder and trying to capture the beauty you see.  

The more you connect, the more your own gratitude builds and you start to feel more blessed.  We tend to think the grass is greener everywhere else, there are great sites to see everywhere including right around the corner.  There are animals that only live where you live and plants that grow there naturally.  There isn’t a single inch of earth that isn’t special.  

Another way to connect is to take local tours, there are experts that want to share little known facts you might not be aware of and you get to support their talents and expertise.  

How to plan your local adventures

I’ve had a few people ask about making plans for this summer and I’ve got some bad news for you, the travel surge is underway.  You may not be able to get the pool home you’re envisioning for a family vacation in July or the price to go to Jamaica seems much higher than it was the last time you checked.  If your travel plans for this summer look like they are fizzling out, don’t worry, it’s a sign that you should jumpstart your local travel plan. 

The next time a friend asks what we should do, you’ll know all the hot spots and off the beaten path treasures because you’ll be the expert.

That’s another bonus benefit, if you find that you run out of things to talk about in social settings, exploring places near you gives you plenty to talk about! From sharing your latest find to stories of what happened along the way, you’ll be passionately engaging in more meaningful conversations.

Scavenger Hunt Your Way Through the Summer

Start with a local bucketlist.

  • Hotels you’ve admired.
  • Towns you’ve never stopped in but only driven through.
  • Restaurants you’ve always wanted to go to.
  • Museums you think are weird. 
  • Add everything you’ve heard of and haven’t actually explored yet. (You can argue why not to later and take it off the list, we’re brainstorming here.)

For instance, I live near Tampa and Orlando, FL.  Here’s some things on my summer bucket list that I’ve just been driving past or bookmarked and still haven’t visited:

  • Hillsborough River State Park
  • Keel & Curley Winery – Tours are $10 and Wine Tasting is $15
  • Gasparilla Island State Park – gotta love secluded beaches.
  • Three Sisters Springs
  • Oak Haven Farms – pick strawberries and get Florida wine, sounds awesome.
  • Lacomka Bakery & Russian Store
  • Krungthep Tea Time (Thai) 
  • Bem Bom on Corrine (Portuguese)
  • Boca Fresca (vegan)
  • Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens
  • Florida Caverns State Park
  • Pontoon Boat rental from Cape Crossing
  • Take the Shell Key Ferry from Fort De Soto 

Some of those are close and some will definitely have to be an overnight trip. I keep track with google maps by creating a marker and saving each place as “where I want to go, where I’ve been, and my favorites”.  When I read an article with reviews of restaurants I haven’t tried, I add them to the list.  Then, whenever I’m in the area, I always can find a place to try pretty quickly if I don’t wind up at one of my favorites again.

More Ideas to Search for:

  • Street art near you – DIY your own tour, create a guide to the best local street art in your area. 
  • Look for new hobbies – classes, lessons, workshops that you might want to try.
  • Check your local natural resources – search for nature centers and preserves, then check their websites to see if they have events that might interest you.
  • Have a themed day at home – if you’ve ever been in 4-H, you know all about Passport to the World and how learning about a different culture can be an immersive event including eating food from that country, making authentic recipes, and re-creating their crafts.
  • Search instagram for your local hashtag to see new places people are talking about.
  • Look for your local wineries and breweries for tours and special events.
  • Find a glamping spot if you’re not a camper.
  • Challenge yourself to find a restaurant with the best _______. (Fried green tomatoes, thai food, cuban sandwiches, or whatever the local specialty is.)  Test a different one as often as your budget allows.
  • Check your local dream hotel for specials, spa days, you never know what you might find.
Redeem points and miles for products, services and subscriptions!

Need a specific example?

My local dreamy hotel is a toss up between the Grand Bohemian Orlando Downtown and the Waldorf Astoria.  When I checked their recent offerings, I saw that Boheme (restaurant at the Grand Bohemian) was drawing special attention to their partnership with a local honey producer – Black Bee Honey.  $1 from every purchase of their Honey Bee Cheesecake goes to support the efforts of Black Bee Honey which works with youth to build business skills, address the food desert issue in the community, and provide high quality, nutritional honey.

By looking into this partnership, I also found 3 more restaurants that work with Black Bee Honey and added them to my list of places to try.  

Artisan’s Table Orlando

My Popcorn Junkie

Makani Restaurant (Egyptian)

Think of local travel as self-discovery exercises.  There’s so much to discover and you have all summer to make it happen.  I hope you’re inspired to start looking for the hidden, the new, and the unknown in your backyard.  You ‘ll be able to offer visiting friends and family an authentic travel experience instead of just the usual tourist spots.  

Let me know if you need help because I bet you I can find something near you that you didn’t know was there or you haven’t tried yet.  I welcome the challenge.

Happy wandering – locally!

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