Updated: Dec 4, 2020
This was originally posted on Under Different Stars. I've brought it here because life recently reminded me of this point. I stayed at an Airbnb in Salem, Oregon, for the first time in my life. I've been through Salem tons of times over the years, but I never thought to see it like a traveller.
It seems a bit of an odd concept, but bear with me here. When I say you should travel your home state, I mean treat it as if it's an exotic destination.
What would you do if you lived in another country and were visiting your home state for the first time?
Hit up the museums, coffee shops, art galleries, drive to those hideaway locations, try new activities, talk to locals...All the good stuff.
We always treat our home state as a place to escape from, not to, so we tend to be really stingy with our time and money. I think that's a large part of why we're so unhappy when we're home, because we're not enjoying life. I could tell you five great cafes or pubs I've been to in Aviemore, Scotland where I lived for only a year but I can only name two or three in Adelaide.
But when you travel your home state...
Like a tourist or out of towner, you meet awesome people that you can actually see again.
I lived in Fresno for 4 years in my early to mid twenties, went to LA several times. This last time I visited and treated it like a travel destination.
I went swing dancing, did some archery (found out that as a lefty, I really shoot better left handed), drove the two hours to Yosemite and lounged for a day, and met some freaking awesome people.
Saw Aquaman with a new friend, and at one point in the movie Aquaman crashes through a ceiling to land on a lady's floor. We looked at each other and said, "Yes, please!" and had to laugh and wonder how on earth we hadn't met sooner.
When I'd lived in Fresno before it'd been work, sleep, work and only occasionally see people when I had an evening off.
Notice the difference?
I can't even take credit because my awesome cousin Joanna has been working to see and do more in her home town.
There's less of a need to escape when you acknowledge what you have, and you can gain a new level of appreciation for your own backyard.
The grass is no longer greener on the other side.
Instead, when you travel your home state, you see it with fresh eyes
Suddenly, everything is new, and you appreciate the little things. The quirky statue in the square, the flowers in the city park, and what the memorials mean. You start to notice the little things and take joy in them.
It's especially apparent because now you're taking photos of those little things.
The last time I live in Adelaide? I started taking photos of native flowers, especially the grevilleas, which are my favorites.
Never did that before.
You learn more about local interests and events
I'm gonna go back to Adelaide here. Did you know that one of Australia's largest wine regions is just north of Adelaide?
Well, I did, but I didn't really appreciate just how bloody big it is (80+ wineries in the Barossa Valley), and if you think you know all about Aussie wines - you don't. We keep the best stuff either in the country, or make it crazy expensive overseas. You can literally find a wine to suit any taste.
I know this because I don't like wine, and I've found stuff from several wineries that I really enjoy.
Plus there's all the little things, like going to the Central Market. It's one of those beauties where you walk in and five minutes later you have two cheeses, crackers, some fruit, maybe a chutney, and now you're just trying to settle on a wine to accompany it all.
The insane thing is I hadn't done anything like that for years. No reason, I was just...busy with the day to day grind.
Hell, I even did an undies run to raise awareness of bowel cancer!
That's right, folks, I donned branded bottoms and a shirt and hauled my butt a mere 2.3 kms through scorching heat for shits and giggles.
If you're historically minded, you may learn more about local events and history, though after surviving high school history, I feel pretty confident in that area.
I took a short road trip with my sister to see the Great Ocean Road, and I know people who've never done it despite living a mere 8 hours drive from it for their entire lives.
See what I'm getting at?
If not, I'm terrible at descriptions, but let's recap this.
Taking the time to do all those traveller and touristy things in your home city and state can help you appreciate where you live, and maybe make it so you don't feel trapped. I've met travellers who say they never go out for coffee when they're at home, and live only for leaving again.
I call that crazy.
You notice all the art that you've probably looked through your entire life, like the murals that pepper Silverton, Oregon (a cute little town I lived in for a few years), or the statue of the pigs eating rubbish in the middle of the street in Rundle Mall, Adelaide.
How can you travel your home state?
What sights is it famous for? Have you ever seen or experienced them?
If not, maybe it's time.
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