A large proportion of travelers choose to venture overseas. This is fine in theory, but they do so without looking at their own country as a legitimate travel option first. Travel bloggers, in particular, are notorious for this. They write romantically about overseas destinations along with the quirks of foreign travel rather than acknowledging the existence of what’s in their own backyard. In fact, several head overseas before even considering leaving their own state.
I am no different, really. I write about aspects of overseas travel, ignoring facets of my home country and the idiosyncrasies that make it, as a nation, stand out.
With that in mind, here are some benefits of staying local.
Being able to explain your own country to others by experience is paramount. For example, as an Australian I want to be able to sell my country as more than the place Foster’s came from, but nobody drinks or where Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray.
So many people rush overseas before exploring the place they call home. The thought of having a conversation about places I haven’t visited in my own country is about as comfortable as drinking a warm beer.
“Oh you’re so lucky to be Australian. The Great Barrier Reef is amazing don’t you think?”
“I’m sure it is. I saw a picture once.”
“So you’ve never been?”
“What about Ayers Rock?”
“Well, a cousin of mine went there…”
“That’s the beach where the tourists drown, yeah?”
“Have I seen more of your country than you?”
“Hmm, how about this weather…”
On the surface, travelling to Southeast Asia seems inexpensive. But when you do the sums, the dollars start to add up. Taking into account elements such as flights, accommodation and visas, it doesn’t matter how cheap the beers and cocktails are. Sure, $1.50 beers sound like a treat but if you have thirty of them, the hangover remains the same.
If you stay in your home country to holiday though, you can save some serious coin. From where I live, I can get to the Murray River in one hour. I know how to get there and the best places to go. I load up my camping gear and use one of the many free camping sites and not spend a dime. If I want comfort instead, I can book accommodation on my mobile and not be stressed about receiving a $20,000 phone bill due to international data roaming gouging my wallet. (A quick Google search shows that last year an Australian tourist received a phone bill of $541,000 after forgetting to turn this feature off. That’s 120,222 beers or, for the non-drinkers, 77,841 pizzas had the person stayed in Australia. Just saying.)
No expensive flights. No taxi rides. No ATM fees. No street hustlers trying to scam you.
Time and ease
Deciding to go for a little jaunt is easy. Generally, you only need a few days and you can enjoy an escape without hassles. This is simple compared to some aspects of overseas travel.
“I need a break. I’m going to go away for a few days. See you on Monday.” How easy is that?
Now here’s the overseas version.
“I need a break… How much do the flights cost? What dates work? I could go away in a couple of months I suppose… Imagine how tired I’ll be then… Is it peak season then though? Maybe I should wait… I have a little bit saved up… Is that enough? What is the visa situation? Who will feed the dog? Could I sell the dog to help pay for the ticket? It will be cheaper if I don’t take my girlfriend…”
It’s easier to stay at work.
Walking into an Australian pub, you will usually be met with by an older bloke behind the bar, probably named Doug, and at least two bar flies whose nicknames will be either be Dogga or Robbo. If the place doesn’t have gambling facilities it will have Pokies instead. The ‘soothing’ tones of coins being fed into machines or the mesmerising sound of the race caller remind you that you are still very much at home. A quick check of the juke box will reveal the most played tracks to be Kenny Roger’s ‘The Gambler’ or any Cold Chisel song.
This could be a description of any pub or bistro across Australia. Knowing that wherever you travel throughout this vast country you will find something this familiar is grounds enough to stay local. Even though it is the same everywhere, it still feels like an adventure. Guaranteed you will describe at least one drinking hole to your friends as a “Classic Aussie pub”, neglecting to mention that it is exactly the same as the one down the road from your house. Maybe it’s the safety of being able to have the chicken and not worrying about getting the trots for the rest of your trip. I’m not saying you can’t get food poisoning traveling local, but I will happily order the chicken breast here based purely on refrigeration and butchering standards. When Gastrostop becomes a viable meal option because you have watched butchered chicken meat stored uncovered, below a table in a hot, Asian alleyway, your ability to order said meat is slightly compromised. At least you don’t have to worry about negotiating a squat toilet at home.
Local travel will not stop you from having an adventure, limit the amount of fun you can have or be less meaningful. The idea that overseas trips are the be-all and end-all is just not true. The fact is that more people will travel locally more often than any international trip. I managed to travel the majority of Australia before I set foot on foreign soil and I think that it is an underrated experience. Just because there is no new stamp in your passport doesn’t mean your trip means less.