10 Reasons To Travel In Your Own Country & Why You’ll Love Every Minute
I’m going to spill a big secret. I’ve been to 30 countries. This includes trekking in the Sahara Desert, snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, witnessing the lava glow in Hawaii, but until last week I’d never seen the West Coast of Scotland. No big deal? The West Coast of Scotland is 3 hours from my front door.
I’m ashamed to admit, it’s not just the West Coast that got pushed lower and lower down my bucket list. There are endless places in Scotland – the country I’m lucky to call home – which I’ve never been to. These are the places we often put aside to our “one day” list. One day when I’m older, one day when I’ve kids or one day when I have time.
While many could argue 2020 to be cursed, one thing we can be grateful for is that it has given us that time. It has forced our “one day list” to be our to do list and now more than ever there are endless reasons why we should explore more of our own country. So you can get packing your bags ASAP, I’ve kept it to just 10.
1. It’s cheaper
We’ve all been there – you want to travel the world, but your bank account says you can see as far as the backyard. Good news is, travelling locally is more affordable. Firstly because you’ll likely know friends and family you could stay with to keep accommodation costs down.
Secondly, because you know the value of things. There is no confusion whether taxi drivers are going to rip you off, whether that tour is overpriced or if your lunch was a good deal – by travelling in your own country you understand the currency and costs. Chances are, you will also know which attractions are overpriced and overrated.
You will also spend less on reaching your destination as there will be no need for visas or vaccinations, your travel insurance will be cheaper, and your transport will take a lot less time (and expense!)
2. You will help save the planet
Alongside saving money, let’s help save the planet too. Here in Scotland, you can drive from one side to the other in 6 hours. Although Australia might not be the same story, generally by travelling domestically, you won’t need to hop on a plane.
This means you still get to experience new scenery, views and food to fuel your wanderlust but all while reducing your carbon footprint.
3. It’s the perfect dress rehearsal
Travelling at home is the perfect way to test drive the backpacking lifestyle before going further afield. For example, our first ever Workaway experience was just a 3-hour flight away. That way, if we decided it wasn’t for us, it wouldn’t take days (or tonnes of money) to return home. Turns out, we loved every minute and then felt brave enough to venture across the world to a host in Hawaii.
It’s not just Workaway you could try out locally first. Try out your travel companions too. Nothing worse than realising you prefer solo travel once you’re already on day 2 of a 3-week group tour. Using the safety net of home, test your travel buddies on local adventures first – who keeps you smiling? Who pushes you out of your comfort zone? Who could you not imagine adventures without?
4. You can travel more often
Sadly to afford any kind of adventure we’ve got to go to this place called work. This means, our travel days are limited, and for most, it’s only a couple of weeks per year where we’re free to roam. However, travelling in your own country means you can use your holiday days more wisely.
With the advantage of exploring what’s on your doorstep, you will spend less time in departure lounges, long haul flights and overnight buses. Instead, you can nip away for the weekend or go for an overnight hike. As it takes less time to reach your destination, you can squeeze in more adventures.
Fun Fact: According to a study in 2014 at Cornell University, the anticipation of an experience (like travelling) actually increases a person’s happiness. Much more so than buying material items. This means, with more trips planned = happier you!
5. It’s a chance to support local
When the chaos of Covid-19 wreaked havoc on our travel plans this year, places which usually rely on tourist trade struggled to make ends meet. Now they desperately need local footfall to boost their business and help pay the bills.
This is where you come in. By travelling in your own country, your money is helping the local economy recover faster. It also means you’ll find hidden gems you hadn’t heard of before as well as build lasting relationships with local businesses as it’ll be easier to return.
6. You can travel last minute
I’ll let you in on another secret. I HATE planning. I am one of those people who pack the morning of a trip and have usually booked my accommodation the night before. However, this isn’t always possible when you’re crossing oceans.
Thankfully, travelling locally supports my spontaneous ways and it is much easier to down tools on a Friday and head for the hills. Plans can change last minute and routes, as well as travel companions, are easier to coordinate when you’re already in the country.
Travel tip: check out the "last minute" filter on Workaway's host list if you are up for a spontaneous adventure.
7. Easier to head off the beaten track
For those of you who love to plan and struggle to be spontaneous, travelling locally gives you the opportunity to head off the beaten track with ease. By travelling in your own country, familiarity will boost your confidence.
It’s likely you will feel braver at home to head off the beaten track because you are familiar with the language, you understand the transport networks, you can find your favourite food or even pick up your besties along the way.
8. There will always be a next time
Have you ever left a place disappointed you didn’t squeeze in everything in your itinerary? Or have you had trips or tours cancelled due to bad weather? The frustrating thing is, these destinations often take hours and expensive tickets to reach – heightening your disappointment when events don’t go to plan.
The joy of domestic travel is that it’s easier to return. There will always be a next time as this trip isn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity for you because you live just an hour or two away.
It also means you avoid the most challenging part of travel – goodbyes. There is nothing worse than saying goodbye after making incredible friends or meeting an epic host family. Instead by meeting new people from your own country, it can be far easier to stay in touch and meet up again.
9. You will learn more
What’s the first thing you search for when arriving in a new place? Is it the nearest coffee shop? The prettiest beach? Funky street art? For me, it’s galleries. I love wandering around galleries in new cities and discovering new artists. Yet, I had no idea there was a gallery just two streets away from my house. Why? I’ve never searched for galleries in my area.
Exploring your own country will heighten your local knowledge, appreciate your own heritage and discover things on your doorstep you’d no idea were there. There are many events and attractions that only tourists find because locals don’t usually have a reason to search. Now you do!
10. You will be grateful to call this place home
There is often an unnecessary shame when explaining you’re holidaying at home. As if you’re not brave enough, rich enough or curious enough to travel abroad. Consider this guide the reasons why this should no longer be the case.
Instead, view it as a rare opportunity to embrace the place you are so lucky enough to call home. Workaway’s entire ethos is to seek authentic travel experiences and embrace local communities. What better way to start than at home, where you are the local.
Think of the reasons why you travel. Is it to try new food? Make new friends? Top up your Instagram feed? There will always be people you haven’t met yet, food you are yet to taste and photos still to take.
Yup, even 5 minutes down the road.