I’ve lived in one place all my life, and up till last year I never had the chance to travel. When I was a kid, I had short trips to Malaysia or Indonesia with my family. But those were before I was 8, and I don’t really remember much of those. Travelling with friends or on your own is a whole different ball game.
But if you are like me (back then) and you are not able to travel, for whatever reason, you can always explore what is already in your backyard. Maybe you already have. Because travel isn’t limited to what’s beyond your country’s borders. Be a tourist in your own country or hometown, and you might be surprised at the things you discover about the place you live in. For me, that place is Singapore.
Here are 5 bonafide reasons why you should travel in your own city, before or after travelling abroad.
1. IT’S CHEAPER (OR FREE)
The number one reason why I didn’t travel any earlier was because I couldn’t afford it. The moment I started having a steady income, I got my passport and started travelling. But if you’re not able to book the next flight out, that’s okay. There are plenty of things to do and see wherever you live, or at least close to where you live. You would still have to fork out some cash for admission tickets for some places, but other spots are completely free. Plus, you won’t have to worry about flight tickets or accommodation.
2. THE LUXURY OF TIME
If you’re travelling on a tight schedule, you might not have the luxury of really spending a lot of time in one place before shuttling to the next destination on your itinerary. And that’s okay. When you’re at home though, that’s different. You are able to go wherever you want, whenever you want. Heck, you can even go to one place again and again.
Singapore is a tiny, tiny country, and God forbid we finish hitting up all the touristy hotspots within a month. But there are still plenty of places to discover even if you’ve lived here all your life. Even if you think you’ve been everywhere, try revisiting places you went to as a kid. That’s definitely going to stir up some nostalgia and bring back some memories. And while you’re at it, you might discover new places nearby, meet new people, and experience new things. And for people living in bigger countries, there are so much more places and cities you can explore – and you have your whole life to do it.
3. YOU LIVE IN THE MOMENT
You can sigh and dream about a beach somewhere on the Carribean, or you can hit up the beach nearest to you (and continue dreaming about that Carribean escape while you’re there.)
My point is to live in the moment, right here, right now. Be positive and productive! The spirit of travel should not dissipate once you’ve touched down at your airport – it should seep into your everyday life. You can still find some beautiful sights to see and interesting things to do, right where you are.
4. BECOME AN EXPERT ON YOUR OWN CITY
Skip the usual day at the mall or dinner and a movie. Head out somewhere else that you’ve never been to before. Explore somewhere off-the-beaten path, look for fields, take some pretty photographs. Go to a tourist attraction you’ve never been before (or have been to 100 times) and take some touristy shots. Soak up the sights, the sounds, the smells.
By travelling around your city a little more, you’ll notice things you never saw were there before. You’ll become more acquainted with the best spots for the yummiest food, the best spots to get really cheap loots, and the best spots to take awesome pictures. You will learn more about your city’s cultures and more about the people who live there. And soon enough, when you have friends in town, you’ll know exactly where to take them to experience the best your city has to offer.
5. IT MAKES YOU APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE
You always read about how travelling allows people to gain new perspectives on life. But I think what is also important to note is that travelling or touring your own city or country can also do this for you.
Even in your own city, you will discover stuff that make you appreciate the little things you already have, and inspire you to not take things for granted. You will see buskers singing their hearts out for that little bit of change, or elderly folk trying to sell knick-knacks or tissue packets to try and make ends meet. Visit museums or historical sites, or landmarks honouring the soldiers who gave their lives in a battle long ago. These places will instil in you a sense of gratitude and appreciation for your life, and all the things you may have taken for granted – safety, food, clean water, a roof over your head. Talk to tourists and learn more about where they’re from, and how their stay in your country is going so far. At some point they might tell you the things they appreciate about your country – smile, and make a mental note to consciously appreciate those things too.
PS. From time to time I will post entries on places I’ve visited in Singapore, and if you’re a visitor to this lovely country, I hope you’ll find those posts useful.
Keep on wandering! x