When you think about the word “travel,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re like most people, it’s probably some far off exotic land in a country where you don’t live. While I’m all about going beyond your front yard (or is it back yard? I don’t know. I’m bad at cliché metaphors), I think it’s ok to explore and scour it before you venture into international lands.
I’m not sure where all of my readers live (comment below and let me know!), but speaking from the perspective of an American, I can tell you there is so much to see here in our own country. A lot of people will discount your travels, but most of these people don’t even know what’s in their own city, let alone their own country. I’ve recently moved to Atlanta and discovered that there are people that have lived here for over a decade and still don’t know all of the places to go within the city. I had seen more of the city in 5 months than they had in their whole time living here!
When I lived in Jacksonville, there were people that had never even crossed certain bridges within the city itself. All they ever knew was Jacksonville. Being a military brat, that was a very hard concept for me to understand.
Let me give you a few reasons why it’s most definitely ok to be a seasoned domestic traveler before going international.
1. Your home can be just as spectacular as a foreign land. Think about how many tourists from other countries come to the U.S. There are so many different landscapes from coast to coast. Sometimes it feels as if you’re in a different world. If you don’t believe me, visit Miami and then hop on over to Arizona and let me know if you can believe you’re in the same country.
2. Domestic travel can be a great way to “get your feet wet.” There I go again with the horrible clichés. In all seriousness though, one reason people don’t leave the country is because they’re a little scared of culture shock. While staying domestic might not help with this aspect of it, it can help you get used to getting out of your comfort zone when it comes to trip-planning and things like that. The cost can also be less than taking an international trip, so there’s the money-saving part which is always great.
3. It can act as a rite of passage. If you want to be great at anything, you should learn the fundamentals. It’s great if you learn how to make a shot from half court, but what about a free throw or a lay-up? (I’m talking about basketball for those that were wondering.) The same goes with traveling. If you’ve never been on a plane in your life, would you want your first flight to be 18 hours long? Yeah, me either.
4. It will feed your travel bug. After you’ve wandered the desert, hiked up the mountains and down into canyons, seen the two different coast lines, and trailed through countless forests, you may start to wonder, if all of this is in your home country, there must be so much more to explore outside of it.
So don’t be ashamed if you haven’t left the country yet. In fact, most Americans haven’t. While I definitely recommend visiting another country at least once in your lifetime, you’ll be surprised at the experiences you can get from exploring your home first.
Where is your favorite domestic destination based on wherever you live? Let me know in the comments below!