There is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Every place in the world has become a travel destination. You may not realize it but no matter where you live, somewhere on the planet, someone else may be longing to visit the area that you call home.
It is, therefore, a paradox that we often tend to appreciate less this very place. We don’t explore, we care less and we become blind to small beautiful things surrounding us. When it comes to travel, we usually don’t consider travelling locally. And I don’t only mean the same country or state, not even region. I mean really locally. So locally that you could call it staying home.
“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Home is where one starts from
Maybe it is the length of stay that makes us believe we already know enough about the local sights. Maybe it is the daily commute. Or the busyness of everyday life that makes us want to get out of the place we think we know so well. Get out whenever we have the chance. Ideally as far as possible, somewhere exciting. Somewhere exotic.
I am not different. In fact, I have been more times to Portugal than I have visited some of the unique and surprisingly exciting nature reserves literally in my backyard. Isn’t it a pity? Spending so much time thinking about our next destinations and planning complex itineraries without even knowing what is around us right now?
If you search for a travel destination close to your home, you will find one
As a landscape photographer, I naturally love outdoors — wild mountains, old forests, high cliffs. The city of Frankfurt, Germany is not exactly a top-of-mind destination when it comes to potential photography locations. The fifth largest city of Germany, heavily industrialized, home to one of the world’s busiest airports. But also home to me.
Since I moved there, I’ve struggled to find interesting landscapes that would look wild enough to me. Sorry, did I say ‘struggle to find’? I meant ‘I didn’t search for’! Because guess what — the idea of looking for a wild landscape next to the Hessian metropolis has not crossed my mind once! Until now.
Even though the evidence of the area’s population density is always present, there are areas to be seen, explored and enjoyed. In other words — there are some quite unexpected places in my immediate proximity. And I would bet that there are some in yours too.
Hopping on the train of research
So one day, I headed to a local bookstore and purchased a very detailed hiking map of the city and its surroundings. The moment I opened it, countless future adventures formed in my mind. There are so many points of interest and so many hiking trails within a few kilometres from my doorstep!
OK, there are no deep old forests but there are at least small patches of them. There are also no high mountains but two nearby peaks are close to 1,000 m which is enough to create a very different climate, especially in winter. No dramatic cliffs either but a surprising amount of “devil’s stones” — stand-alone rocks in the middle of a forest.
There is even a UNESCO site I had no clue about — the Messel pit, a place bursting with unique fossils. And don’t forget the remains of a huge ancient Celtic oppidum. All that within the city’s network of public transport. The number of interesting places punched me in the face.
Home to wonder and wander around
Why should you care about travelling around the area that you call home? Think about the implications it can have!
Let’s start with the most prosaic one — money. Travel is a really expensive hobby. But you can start exploring your home area right now at a laughable fraction of the cost you would spend on a flight ticket.
Which brings me to the next reason — the environment. Tourism is good for the economy but not exactly great for nature. Think of flights, cruises, rental cars, the issues with over-tourism, all the single-use plastic ending up all over the place, etc.
Imagine you would spend more time and cash on travelling around the place where you live. Wouldn’t it in long-term reduce the use of your less environmental-friendly travel behaviour? And imagine the impact if everyone did it. At least a bit.
The last reason I’d like to bring up is mental health. Not being able to travel far away can be frustrating. Especially with the constant comparison pressure from social media. Here’s a tip — ditch your phone for a day and go and explore your home town, city, and its surroundings.
It can be incredibly satisfying to find a unique place near your home. The one that maybe nobody knows about. The one you can create a deep connection with. The one you can revisit anytime you like without travelling to the other side of the planet. Presumably, it won’t be the 8th world’s wonder but it can still fill your heart with joy.
And that’s worth it.
Pin this for later:
PS. I also published this article on Medium.com.