The Local Tourist: Why Being A Tourist At Home Is Always A Good Idea
Updated: May 29
* Disclaimer: Please only venture to take advantage of your cities AFTER the containment of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our team is currently practicing social distancing while in quarantine and we encourage our readers to do the same.
We spend our whole lives in our respective cities -- living out our day-to-day thinking we know it like the backs of our hands. But, how many of us really know the places we live in?
How many of us have actually ventured out of our regular routines and seen how much our cities have to offer?
The truth is, most of us probably haven’t….
For me, traveling and expanding my knowledge of different places and cultures is an essential part of my life; however, after recently moving to Halifax, NS from Canada’s capital, I realized how little I actually remembered about the place I spent the last 6 years of my adult life. While living in Ottawa, I spent so much time complaining about how boring my city was, and yet it was only after leaving, that I realized I knew virtually nothing about it. I had always left the country to explore the world, and yet while at home I had spent so much time sticking to my “routine,” I had missed out on all the city had to offer.
As I embarked on this new adventure, I committed to spending my time really getting to know Halifax. I decided to play “tourist” and see my new home with the same wonder that I would a foreign land.
To my surprise, it was an eye-opening experience! Not only is my life more full and exciting, but it has also bettered my understanding of the country I live in, its people and culture, and has instilled an appreciation in me of the day-to-day life that I now, no longer take for granted! So, here are some reasons why being a tourist in your own city is never a bad idea:
You’ll never run out of things to do
For many of us, the biggest complaint about being in our hometown is that there’s nothing to do. When we’re not at work, we live in a perpetual state of deep sighs, trying to think of somewhere to go, then giving up and just binge-watching Netflix with a bag of chips. But, here’s the thing, by shifting our perspectives and viewing our daily lives the way we would vacation, we find out that there’s so much more happening than we’d ever expect. Whether it’s grabbing your camera and getting lost downtown with no particular destination in mind, or walking through a neighbourhood you’ve never visited before, you’ll begin to see little details that you’ve been too absorbed in the mundane to notice.
You’ll learn things about your city’s history and culture
We drive, walk, or ride the bus past the same buildings, streets, and landmarks everyday --- but, do we really know anything about them? As we pass a tall building, a statue in a park, or an old church with a cracked stained glass window, have any of us ever stopped and thought about their history, or the stories of how they came to be?
Think about it, we’ve probably passed integral parts of our city’s heritage thousands of times and never even knew it.
That’s why seeing them through the lens of a tourist is so important. You can learn so much by visiting museums, galleries, the local town hall, or even stopping and reading the plaques on the side of buildings. By just taking the time to learn about your city’s history, you will not only gain a better appreciation and understanding of the place you live -- you’ll also learn tons of things that you can share with those you meet on your own travels and with those right at home!
You’ll feel revitalized
One of the worst things about the weekend is that even on the most relaxing days, there’s this haunting reminder looming of a new week approaching. Without realizing it, we can hold that tension and end up feeling anxious, fatigued, and longing for a much-needed vacation.
The problem is, vacation is expensive -- and we can't always get the time off.
That’s where being a tourist at home comes in handy. By shifting your perspectives and viewing your cities in a whole new way, you begin to access new and beautiful experiences every day.
Of course, that doesn’t mean to stop travelling --- but, as you explore different neighbourhoods and parks, or visit new restaurants and cafes, you unlock untapped sources of pleasure and allow yourself the opportunity to reduce anxiety and de-stress.
It doesn’t even have to be expensive! Many cities have a local listing of all the free things there are to do!
You’ll meet new people
Part of the excitement of travelling is meeting new and interesting people while abroad. We build temporary and sometimes lasting relationships and share experiences with other travellers and those local to the region. This allows us to exchange knowledge of things to do, places to go, and new experiences to discover along the way.
The problem is, when we get home, we return to our normal lives and settle back in with our existing circle of friends and family.
We lose that desire for connection because of the foundations we have already built at home.
It’s time to shake that up!
On your next at-home adventure, think of yourself as a tourist. Engage in conversations as you would if you were abroad -- you never know what interesting things you’ll learn or the people you’ll meet. The next time you’re at a coffee shop, or sitting in a park, find someone new to talk to! Don’t get me wrong at first it WILL be weird, but as you begin to open yourself up, you’ll discover so many different people and you might build some new relationships out of it!
Honestly, I couldn’t imagine how much more exciting my own life became once I started travelling at home. Instead of spending my weekends in bed, I now have a ton of new adventures under my belt. I’m not even done seeing all there is to see in Halifax, and I know as long as I continue to play the tourist, those things will never run out!