The adventure next door: 8 reasons to travel locally

September 15, 2023

There’s a lot to be said for booking short-term, local trips alone or with a few close friends. The mini getaway to a nearby town, state or province can be underrated and certainly overlooked. In a time when others’ travels are often over-documented and blasted all over Instagram feeds and stories, it’s easy for our sense of FOMO to be triggered.

We might catch ourselves pining for a villa in Italy, an afternoon on a powdery Caribbean beach, or seafood platters in Greece. Sure, foreign places can spoil our senses and satisfy our sense of wonder in a way that our backyards can’t. That said though, if you really want travel to be a part of your lifestyle (beyond your week-long vacation) embracing the mini local getaway is likely your way to do so. Travelling local is cheaper, more sustainable… and it even offers perks that international travel does not. Alas, the argument for hitting the roads not so far from home.

No jet lag.

Jet lag is a jerk amiright? Our circadian rhythms can be more stubborn than we may want them to be. Going from North America to Europe can have you wide-eyed when you don’t want to be and super sleepy when you’re supposed to be living it up. Even going from one end of Canada to the other means hours of a difference. That can be surprisingly disorienting and even the best of us may underestimate our ability to bounce back. While this is just one of the necessary evils of certain travels, it’s also nice when it’s not a factor. Like if you’re travelling just a few hours away by car, for example.

Culture shock? Don’t know her.

Sometimes going to a different country, if you’re not familiar with it, can result in huge culture shock. We may think that social etiquette is standard but it completely is not. Cultural norms and the way we communicate, show manners, and greet each other varies greatly from place to place. Travelling means meeting new people and learning about different ways of doing things of course. However with that comes plenty of confusion, non-graceful moments, and awkward slip-ups. Travelling from Vancouver to Tofino or Calgary to tThe Rockies though, culture shock won’t be a problem.

You don’t waste time getting familiar.

You arrive at your destination, check into your hostel, take a shower and freshen up. You hit the town to grab a bite but feel… a little disoriented and perhaps even a little intimidated. Navigating new spaces is thrilling but it can also be a bit mentally taxing (especially if you’re in a large city and a foreign country). Over time, you get to know the neighbourhood, the hotspots, and local favourites. If you’re just on a mini getaway at a hostel just a short road trip away though, there’s usually a base level of familiarity already. Maybe you’ve even already been there before! If you haven’t, at least you can ask for directions in your native language. That means that you spend less time (if any) getting acquainted with your surroundings.

It’s a budget-friendly way to get a break.

Surely most of us would love to spend our lives jet-setting to new countries and embracing the magic of seeing new towns, glorious landscapes, and native plants growing lush in their natural environments. (I’d probably hop on a flight somewhere every month if I could. Just me? I doubt it.) We can dream as much as we want but likely for most people, a life of such luxury just isn’t realistic, sustainable, and affordable. Know what is? Spending a long weekend at a hostel that’s just a mere road trip or bike-packing trip away. A word of advice: if you are leaning into hostel life at a destination near you, know that many hostels in Canada and the U.S. have policies which don’t allow those who live in the city where the hostel is located to stay there. Double check if this applies in your case.

Lunch hangs with friends sometimes doesn’t cut it.

Friendships (and most relationships really) are so much easier to maintain when you’re younger. Remember the good ol’ days of week-long summer camps, recess, and family vacations with friends? If you’ve crossed into the responsible world of Real Adulting though, the hang outs and weekend adventures become fewer and farther in between. Life moves on and babies, family obligations, and career may soon take up bigger roles. If lunch catch-ups just aren’t cutting it, making space and time for something like an annual weekend in the fall or a road trip with the childhood friends could be one of the things that keeps friendships strong. Sure, there’s more on the plate but where there's a will, there’s a way. Just make it happen.

Far away travels eat up time.

When you’re travelling to a different country on a different continent, the travel can be draining. (Again, the necessary evils we deal with in the name of international escapades!) It’s not just about the actual time on the airplane, people. It’s waiting at gates and luggage carousels. It’s flight delays and space between connections. It’s sitting in traffic once exiting the airport. It’s keeping the evening before travel clear and the mornings before dashing off to the airport simple. All in all, travel can take up a loooooot of time. Know what doesn’t? Train rides to the next city, short flights to the province over from you, or environmentally-friendly travels like long-distance cycling or hiking where getting there is the adventure.

You get more authentic experiences.

Travelling to destinations that are not so far away often can mean that you’re not starting from square one in terms of getting to know the culture or vibe. Having some background on your local destination can mean that you’re better able to get off the beaten path and take a deeper dive into the place. For example, you may already know about the area’s best-known cuisine and therefore be able to put in the effort to get in touch with a local chef. Or, a friend of yours may have filled you in on an underrated park to check out.

It’s a low-key way to make travel a bigger part of your lifestyle.

The traveller’s mindset and lifestyle can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. If travel is one of the core values that you want to live your life by, you’re probably itching to explore new places more than just once or twice a year. Mini local adventures are more doable, sustainable and approachable for most of us. You might find that hopping over to the province next door keeps life fun, interesting and enjoyable. An added bonus is that if you stay in a hostel (*hint, hint*), you’re bound to meet international travellers of all ages who bring a new perspective that’s not already part of your routine.

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