Home Is Where the Heart Is | Sightseeing with a Staycation
A stop in our hometown led to a lesson learned... We’d just returned from flying around the world but we realized that we’d never really seen our hometown. This realization was a huge reminder to us to try and look at our surroundings with fresh eyes. What seems ordinary to you may be extraordinary to a tourist, so why not take a staycation and see your hometown through the eyes of a tourist?!
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We embarked on an adventure of a lifetime, selling and donating nearly 95% of our belongings, packing a carry-on size travel backpack with our most precious and functional items, sold our car, and took off on a plane for Dublin, Ireland.
In the 12 months that followed, we visited three continents, 23 countries, and 60 cities; it was a whirlwind adventure!
It probably goes without saying, but we saw and experienced so many different cultures, places, and people. Moreover, as we expanded our horizons, we grew as people and ultimately feel that we’ve become better spouses, future parents, children, and human beings.
As we prepared for this adventure our friends and family were in awe of the adventure we were about to take. Plus, we often found that the people we met along the way looked at us with wanderlust.
Whether your exploring abroad or at home, capture your favorite moments and places with a great camera. We found the Panasonic LUMIX ZS100 Camera to be the best ‘pocket sized’ point and shoot camera. It that takes high quality photographs, has a 10X zoom, and only weighs 11 ounces!
Whether it was people we knew or strangers we’d just met, there seemed to be a common thread of excitement. People seemed to want to experience the thrill, romanticism, and exoticism of travel and in turn would often ask us how we were able to do what we were doing. Which was soon followed by a disbelief that they’d be able to do the same.
We’ve gotten to where we are because of lifestyle changes that anyone can make. We (nor our parents) are independently wealthy, we don’t have supernatural skills, and we don’t have access to top secret travel tips and resources.
Ultimately, it’s simply a matter of choices and priorities.
For us, it was allocating our resources (think money, time, and career) to places and things that lead us to a location independent/digital nomad lifestyle while pursuing financially independent, retire early (FI/RE).
Many people think we’ve sacrificed and have given up commodities and luxuries, but for us we’ve exchanged material luxuries for experiential luxuries. That’s what we want and are happy with it.
However, our lifestyle isn’t for everyone and it’s more realistic to fall into the category of wanting the occasional adventure mixed into a more stable and settled home and work lifestyle. And you know what? That’s okay too!
So, whether you’re working towards a digital nomad, continuous long-term travel lifestyle, or you still want to experience some of the adventures of traveling without changing your entire life, then you’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to fly half-way around the world to see new places, new things, and meet new people!
Having the Perspective of a Tourist Shapes Your Experience
Years of decisions and loads of ambition had been leading up to us arriving in Ireland and setting off to see the world. Therefore, when we got off the plane in Dublin we were ready to see what this new place, and every place thereafter had to show, inspire, and teach us!
In Ireland, we were treated to beautiful landscapes.
Every city we’ve visited has had tremendous pride that is showcased in monuments, antiquities, and modern marvels.
Each culture we encountered we experienced through the people, the markets, and the neighborhoods. We found that if we tuned our senses, we could hear, see, taste, and feel the culture all around us.
In essence, when we landed in Ireland to begin our journey we put on ‘tourist glasses’. From then on, we saw everything through these glasses because everything was new and foreign to us.
Seeing Home as a Tourist
What’s most interesting is what happened when we came home. When we landed in our hometown and started our old routines, following the same walks and visiting the places we’d been to dozens (if not hundreds) of times before, we saw things in a fresh light.
It was amazing to see our hometown as a tourist!
Things We Saw for the First Time at Home
After a year away, we came home to a town that had changed and grown. The city was in an economical boom (as was most of the country!) and there were new buildings, more storefronts, and new neighborhoods.
However, we saw things that had been around for years, but we’d never really noticed them before.
For example, just a few blocks from our former apartment is the Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT) that has a beautiful bronze sculpture displayed on the corner. But we’d never taken the time to admire it, we’d just walk past it (literally several times a day, since Shannon used to work in an office across the street from it!).
So, with a new mindset we stopped and gave this sculpture a thoughtful second look. It was a beautiful piece of artwork and if we’d seen it in Budapest or in Marrakech, we’d almost certainly have stopped to take a picture of it. As a matter of fact, it reminded us a bit of the bronze statues we’d seen in Bratislava, Slovakia!
A Camera at the Ready
Another thing that quickly became apparent was the natural beauty of Boise, Idaho. We’d actually chosen to move to this part of Idaho in the first place because of its outdoor activities, but we could probably count on one hand how many times we’d made the effort to take out our camera and capture the natural beauty that was all around us.
On the other hand, as tourists we always had our camera close at hand. We’d taken countless pictures of sunsets, a beautiful sky over a mountaintop, or a pathway through a garden that seemed to be enchanted.
Needless to say, it took less than 48 hours home to be on a pathway we’d walked well over a hundred times before, to take out our camera and capture the beauty of the park, the cloudy yet crisp blue sky, and the yellow leaves that blanketed the green grass.
Realization That We Can be Tourists Anywhere
It caught us by surprise. We’d lived, worked, and walked in the Boise for years but we’d never stopped to really see it. When we got home, we took long walks around different parts of the city to see how it had changed, but we were also treated to seeing the city through the eyes of a tourist.
We did sightseeing and took pictures without a second thought while traveling abroad. Our destinations may not have been our hometown, but they were somebodies hometown.
We realized that it’s not necessary to travel to new and faraway places to see and experience new things. We can easily have a staycation and do that in a town we’ve lived in for years, and probably even more so in the places we grew up.
We’re challenging ourselves to more staycations when we visit ‘home’. Seeing our hometowns and familiar places from the perspective of a tourist changes our experiences!
So, if you’re itching to adapt a travel lifestyle and aren’t quite there yet, or are unable to travel because of work or current commitments, then we challenge you to take an afternoon or a weekend to explore your hometown like a tourist.
Whether you choose to get your walking shoes and wander the city around you, or if you look up everything a tourist can see in your city and design an itinerary, we bet you can have a staycation that’s much more of an adventure than you’d think!