How to Travel Without Going Far
Sometimes you need to get away but don’t have the time, money, or a mix of both to do it. Odds are there is plenty to do and see either in your own neighborhood or a short drive away.
People get stuck in their little world bubbles too easily. I’m here to admit that I’ve been living like that too. I lived in New York until I was 22, but I never saw the Statue of Liberty until I was 25 and went home to visit family. It turns out, that was the first time any of them ever saw it either. I asked around, and most people back home never saw it either.
How can you live your entire life in one place and never see any of the things that people travel from all over the world to see? Are there people from Los Angeles that never stepped foot on the Walk of Fame? Do people from Paris never go to the top of the Eiffel Tower? Do people from Rome never go explore the Colosseum?
The answer to all of those questions is often yes. I always ask people from cities about their landmarks. A good amount of the locals say they never got around to seeing their tourist attractions. I think it’s a real shame that everyone doesn’t get to take in and appreciate the special places where they are from, including myself.
I recently started doing weekend tourist trips in and around Los Angeles where I currently live. It was easy to find the obvious places and attractions, but I wanted to dig a little deeper to find the hidden gems around me. Here are some of the ways I found things to do in Los Angeles and around LA that you can use in your hometown.
Collect Travel Brochures
Ever notice that whenever you’re traveling you end up seeing that familiar shelf of brochures in the airport, your hotel, and IHOP? Chances are the same types of locations in your city that have those same brochure stacks. Stop in at a hotel near your local airport and grab each of the brochures to get your first collection of ideas for being a local tourist.
I drive by Universal Studios every single day on my commute to work, but I forgot that it was a place to visit until I found the brochure for it. Own the touristy experiences.
Take a Bus Tour
Speaking of owning touristy experiences…
These will generally be in all major cities. I especially like the “hop on hop off” busses since they take you by all of the major sites in a city and offer either a recording telling you the history of the area or have a live person on a microphone to talk about it.
I organized one of these rides with an old job around Los Angeles. We all thought it was going to be super corny and lame but it ended up being super corny and an amazing afternoon. I’m full of info about Los Angeles now that I share with people all of the time and it makes me showing visitors around a lot easier.
You don’t have to do the main attractions only though. Some cities have special tour busses that show you places like haunted buildings, movie filming locations, or historical tours.
Now that you’ve gotten some of the really touristy stuff out of the way, it’s time to start looking around your area on a map. I like to open up Google Maps and search for my home address. Then I zoom out to however far I want to travel and look for landmarks or towns to visit. Most places with a name on the map can be clicked on. They will each bring you a snapshot of that place along with how long the drive would be.
The first thing I got out of this was a day trip for something I always wanted to see. I’ve always wanted to see sequoia trees, but I thought they were in the Pacific Northwest area. Without even knowing I was looking for it, I saw a big patch of a national park on the map. It said “Sequoia National Forest.” Little did I know I only live 3 hours from these trees!
I learned about Airbnb Experiences when I went to Barcelona. It is a whole other section of the Airbnb website where locals can offer different services in their area. There are experiences like cooking classes, walking tours, drawing lessons, food tours, and other local activities.
Search for your own city or a big city near you to find out what is available. You don’t necessarily need to sign up for that person’s experience, but you’ll at least get some ideas for things to do. For example, I found someone to give me surfing lessons in Los Angeles on Airbnb Experiences. The site also got me thinking about taking a painting class, because why not?
As always when Airbnb is mentioned, check out my current Airbnb discounts.
Reddit is a goldmine for any piece of information I need about anything in the world. You’re bound to find some weird stuff on there and some serious trolls, but you can weed through that to find some good information. There is an honesty you’ll find on Reddit that isn’t on most other sites.
With Reddit, I’ve looked at local subreddits to see what people were talking about. People are posting about things like upcoming events and mentioning the best new restaurants they’ve been finding. You can post yourself asking for ideas of what to do or where to go to. I’ve even found people to meet up with on there that had similar interests.
Thrillist and UrbanDaddy
I’ve been lucky enough to live in large cities that always have a lot of events and new places opening up every week. The only problem is that there is so much going on that I’ll miss it. I often find out about a cool event after it has come and gone. Then, when it comes to the great new bars and restaurants, I want to be the cool guy that tells everyone about it!
I subscribe to the email newsletters for both Thrillist.com and UrbanDaddy.com. That way I’m being inundated with probably too many things to choose from, but I’d rather that than miss some great opportunities. You can just go to their website and look up your city instead.
Currently, they only cover certain cities you’d expect like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami. There are 10 cities on UrbanDaddy, but Thrillist owns the fun city guide space with 40 cities covered.
I actually don’t like this option much because of how much info I learned they have on me I despise the amount of Facebook notifications I get. I think that I accidentally sign up for more when I start searching around on there. Regardless there is a good amount of info on upcoming events near you.
Start out by going to your Facebook events page. There is way too much to sift through on Facebook to find what you want to find now, so here is a link. On this page, you’ll see upcoming events in your area that Facebook tries to push in front of you based on the insane amount of data they have about you. It’ll also show you events in the area that your friends plan on going to. Creepy, maybe. Helpful, maybe.