There has never been a better time to travel in your own country. Here’s how to make it happen.
Taken at face value, 2020 hasn’t really been the year for the adventurous at heart. Traveling has been severely restricted — when it’s even been possible in the first place. Many of the initial quarantines were finally lifted over the summer only to be replaced with intense sanitation and hygiene guidelines that still managed to severely hamper moving from point A to point B. As the autumn began, the case count crept up once more and many countries shut their borders for a second time.
While the ongoing pandemic has necessitated all of these well-justified activities, it doesn’t change the fact that a lot of travel plans have had to be nixed amidst the chaos. Fortunately, for those who are desperately missing the thrill of adventures, there’s still another vacation option that remains wide open: exploring your own home turf.
Staycations and the Magic of Exploring Your Home Country
Staycations are typically associated with locked doors, shuttered windows, and an intensely inward-focused experience that emphasizes things like reading books, playing games, and generally doing as little as possible.
However, the virus has created the opportunity to redefine — or at least broaden — the concept of a staycation. Now that borders are being shut down, staycations can also be applied to the concept of vacationing within the suddenly-shuttered boundaries of your own country.
It doesn’t matter if you live in a tiny nation like Switzerland or a massive one like the United States, if travel to and from your country is shut down during the outbreak, you can lean on a “nation staycation” as a solution to your travel woes.
This isn’t just fun, it can also be an excellent way to find some peace and help you disconnect from all of the pandemic-induced stresses. Things like adjusting to cluttered work-from-home offices, and struggling to maintain healthy communication in isolation have put unprecedented stress on billions of individuals in recent months.
In some cases, the pressure has exacerbated existing bouts with things like insomnia, depression, anxiety, or OCD. At other times, it’s created new mental health concerns as previously robust individuals have struggled to stay healthy in isolation.
Regardless of the situation, if you’re struggling with the pressure, fear, and anxiety of the times, it may be time to pump the brakes and consider a nation staycation in your own near future.
Finding Wonder in Your Home Country
If the thought of a staycation sounds boring to you, think again. Like as not, the only reason your home country sounds uninteresting is the fact that you take it for granted. It’s an understandable human reaction that comes from living in the same place for a long time. However, if you simply try to view the idea of a nation staycation with a little creativity, you can cobble together a plan for a phenomenal vacation that takes place right outside the doors of your own home.
With that said, here are a few suggestions for ways that you can inspire, plan, setup, and execute a staycation focused on exploring the wonders of your homeland.
Establish a Home Base
The first thing that you want to do is clearly define where your vacation will be based. The easiest and most affordable option is your home. However, if you live in a larger country that hasn’t restricted domestic travel, you can choose to operate out of a relative’s house, a hotel, or even a series of roadhouses that stretch across your nation.
Assess Your Interests
If you’re going to pull together a vacation game plan that you’ll enjoy, you want it to spark your interests. Sit down and consider what kind of activities and aspects of international travel you enjoy the most. Is it the food? The sights? The history? The adventures? The nature?
As you identify what it is that particularly interests you when you travel, write it down. This can help provide direction as you plan your trip. Do you love to bum around on a beach? If so, maybe you need a holiday staycation filled with naps and a general lack of electronics.
Do you need to seek out adventure and thrills when you’re abroad? If that’s the case, you may need to find the best activities in your local city, state, or region.
Whatever the specifics, use your interests to help inspire what your vacation ultimately looks like.
Consider Your Time Frame
This one’s easy. Do you have a long weekend to spend making a quick trip to a single destination or have you saved up three weeks of vacation that you want to blow on one prolonged road trip? The answer makes a huge difference in how your nation staycation will shape up.
Separate Activities from Geography
As you plan your trip, do your best to separate activities from geographic interests. For instance, if you love to go skydiving, do you need to do so in New Zealand or can it be closer to home? If you crave food experiences, does it have to be Italy’s finest culinary treats or can it be a local diner with a stellar reputation? If parasailing is on your bucket list, does it have to happen in Rio de Janeiro or can you visit a local beach?
By separating locations from activities, you may be able to identify some extraordinarily fun things that you can do right in your own backyard.
Look for Tourist Hotspots
It’s easy to lose sight of what makes your particular region beautiful. If you live in Upstate, New York, the leaves changing in the fall likely won’t catch your eye after a while. If you live in the Dominican Republic, eventually you forget that there are jaw-dropping beaches right around the corner.
As you consider exploring your home country, try to step back and look at the activity through the eyes of a foreigner. What would others be interested in visiting if they came to your country?
If you’re in the U.S., have you ever seen the Washington Monument or the Grand Canyon? If you’re in Italy, have you ever spent time in Rome to witness all of its ancient history? If you’re in France, have you climbed the Eiffel Tower? If you’re in Scotland, have you walked the Royal Mile? Try to find any tourist hotspots that you may have overlooked and plan them into your trip.
Research Local Cuisine and Events
What is your country famous for? Argentinians drink yerba mate instead of coffee. Scotsmen wear kilts. The Maori of New Zealand learn the intimidating Haka dance.
Study your local culture and find out what you’re famous for. It doesn’t even have to be a national food. It can be a local, fan-favorite hole-in-the-wall, such as ordering an iconic garbage plate in Rochester, New York, or a bagel in the Big Apple.
Along with the local cuisine, consider any events that may be taking place in your region. Quarantines and sanitation protocols have most likely canceled most of the larger options, but are there any smaller events or festivals in your area that you may have never experienced, such as a nice tasting at a local winery?
If local cuisine, hotspots, or manmade activities don’t spark your interest, there is still the option of heading outside. Going all-natural with your vacation is an excellent way to relax and unwind. In fact, a nature-themed vacation, such as camping or hiking, isn’t just fun, it also provides a host of excellent adventure-based outdoor health benefits, such as:
- Helping you unplug from your electronics for a bit.
- Combating stress by getting fresh air and exercise.
- Cultivating a positive and mindful attitude as you spend time in nature.
- Boosting your immunity and sleep quality.
- Reinvigorating your creativity.
If you’re feeling uninspired about your local civilization, all you need to do is pack up a tent, hop in the car, and enjoy a weekend in the great outdoors. It’s a social-distance-friendly activity and an excellent way to tap into some adventure and rest at the same time without ever leaving your home country.
Always Plan Ahead
There is certainly a plethora of options when it comes to discovering (or rediscovering) the magic of your home country. However, you should always take the time to plan ahead, even when you’re going to be operating so close to home.
Of particular note at the current time are the specific regulations and guidelines. Even if you think you know how things work in your home town or local region, the pandemic is creating new rules practically every day. Keep that in mind as you plan your nation staycation.
Check into each activity and location to ensure that it’s open, is social-distance-friendly, and doesn’t require things like reservations or a mandatory quarantine upon arrival or when you return home.
Rediscovering the Wonders of Your Home Turf
It’s easy to take things for granted — even your own home. As an adventurer and a traveler, the desire to see new and exciting things can often feel like an international-only affair. However, there is no end to the wonders that your own country has to offer as well.
After all, others spend their hard-earned cash to visit your own country as often as you do to visit there’s, right?
So take some time and assess what you can do in your nation-state. As you identify activities and locations, cobble together a nation staycation that is perfectly tailored to your interests. Then hit the road with friends and family members and genuinely enjoy your time — even if it’s taking place right in your own backyard.