Before 2020, I didn’t really care about exploring my home country — France. Being stuck at home for so long, all I wanted to do was explore outside. Back then, in France, we were only allowed to go outside for a 1-hour walk a day, and within 2 miles of our house. But if there is one thing that this pandemic has taught me, it’s how much I love the outdoors and how important local travel is.
I didn’t realize how much I loved where I was born and raised until I left it when I moved to Sweden a few years ago. And for that, I am so grateful. And even though I still live abroad today, I am aware of everything that France has to offer in terms of culture, wildlife, landscapes and outdoors, art, literature, and everything that makes a country a unique one.
Now, France is pretty small – it’s actually smaller than Texas! – so traveling anywhere in the country could be considered “local”, but believe it or not, we have a lot of different French accents, ways of life, traditions, food, opinions, and landscapes within the country. If you were to spend time in the North of France and then head to the South, your experience with people, food and weather would be entirely different.
So when I mean “explore your own backyard”, I really mean whatever feels like your home. If the entire Texas state feels like home to you, then it is! To me, home is the Nantes and the Brittany regions, as well as the West Coast of France.
I strongly believe that you will never run out of things to discover around you, even if you have lived in one place your whole life. There is always something new to do, see, or experience. Now, you might not love every single one of them, but there is something about being aware of the world around you that will open your mind to many other things in life.
Not quite convinced? Well, let me break it all down for you.
The 4 reasons why you should explore your own backyard
1. We take it for granted
Trust me, when I say that I took France for granted my whole life, I mean it. Now, living abroad, I realize how absolutely amazing my country is and I can’t wait to go back now that my travel permit is approved.
I think because we grew up where we grew up, most of us just don’t see the beauty of it anymore. We always dream of being somewhere else, and you’d be surprised how little you actually know about your home.
I personally don’t want to have my American family-in-law visiting France one day and not being able to be their tour guide. I want to make them eat local food and traditional dishes instead of McDonald’s. I want to make them drink local wine from the vineyard I grew up in instead of Jack Daniel’s – which originated where my husband was born -. I want to show them what it’s like to be fully immersed in my culture.
As I said earlier in this post, it took me “losing” France to understand how much I love and cherish it. Traveling to all these places during the past 6 years opened my mind to just how closed it actually was.
2. It’s the cheapest way to travel
Think about how cheap it would be to visit your own region compared to, let’s say, a trip to the Maldives – now, if you live in Pennsylvania, for instance, I know it’s no paradise island, but I promise you can make an amazing trip out of it –
You can go on daily adventures so you don’t have to pay for housing. You can even cook at home and bring your meals on the road! Growing up, my family and I would take day trips to the beach – which was between 1 and 2 hours away depending on where we were going -, and instead of paying for an overpriced oceanfront restaurant, we would always bring all the picnic essentials and eat on the beach! I have the absolute best memories of it – brb, texting my mom to add this to our to-do list for my next visit to France –
If you think about it, the only money spent was a few groceries and gas. That’s it. Talk about a cheap trip!
Then, when I was a teenager – I think I was 14 years old -, my middle school girlfriends and I spent a week camping in one of my friends’ grandparents’ backyard – I took “exploring my own backyard” literally -. It was 7 of us. We took a train there from our hometown and rode bikes to the beach every single day. No housing, no groceries because the grandparents fed us, and a good workout in thanks to all the biking.
So, be a tourist in your own city.
Be a tourist in your own region.
I promise you will see the beauty of it, and you will be much happier in your daily life.
3. It supports the local economy
Now, if you really want a getaway but don’t have the means to travel far: not enough days off, not enough time, not enough money, or responsibilities you can’t avoid – e.g. feeding your cat or taking care of a loved one -, well you’re in luck because there is something called STAYCATION.
A Staycation, for those who don’t know, is when you take a few days off – it can even be one single night and done on a weekend – and spend the night in a nice location within driving distance from your home. You can stay in a local hotel, a cottage, an Airbnb, or even go camping.
But there are other ways to support the local economy while traveling local that don’t include an overnight stay.
• Go to a local farm and shop locally.
• Visit a park that has an entrance fee or make a donation.
• Go to a farmer’s market or a vintage market to discover local farmers and artisans.
• Visit a local exhibit or museum.
• Book an activity such as kayaking, waterpark or amusement park, pool, movies, etc.
• Go to a festival or live show.
And these are only a few examples out of, I’m sure, hundreds – if not thousands, depending on where you are from –
4. It’s simply cool
Your hometown is somebody else’s dream destination.
Your hometown is somebody else’s dream destination.
When my husband and I started dating, he came to visit me in France. At the time, he was living in Hawaii – and talk about a backyard!!! – and he landed in Paris. We spent a couple of days visiting the capital city and quickly headed back to Nantes. He was absolutely over the moon to discover the vineyard I grew up in, the city I studied in, the region where I spent most of my childhood vacations, and the surroundings: Brittany, Normandy, and the Loire Valley.
Not only was I able to show him around and teach him a lot about my culture, but his visit also made me drive further and explore new things as well. Before he came to France, I had never been to Normandy nor visited the WW2 Landing historical sites.
Having people from elsewhere visit you, being able to be their tour guide, and actually knowing what you’re talking about… how cool is that?
The best part? If you get to visit them where they live, they will return the favor! It’s really an only-win situation.
Bonus tip: my advice is to start by doing 2 touristy things every month. Even if it’s just a walk or a bike ride. Dedicate a moment every other weekend to do something around town that you’ve never done before.
With that being said, now that I live in Vegas, my backyard is the best playground ever, and I know how lucky I am. Sometimes, people ask me why I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon or to San Francisco yet. It’s because I am not even CLOSE to being done exploring Vegas and Nevada!
I really hope you enjoyed this article and that it made you more aware of your surroundings. Let me know in the comments where you are from and what you love the most about it!
As always, thanks for reading me and allowing me to share my voice. Let’s connect on Instagram and be friends!