Tuesday, April 14, 2015

5 Great reasons to travel in your own country

We all know the temptation to head overseas for the big "OE" is synonymous with being a kiwi; in fact New Zealanders are amongst the most travelled people in the world! However; how many of us venture off-shore looking for adventure without so much as casting a glance over our shoulders towards the land we are so eager to leave?
I consider myself well travelled. Very well in fact. I have lived for extended periods of time in both Europe and USA and have been to a large variety of countries as a result of my ex-husbands job. I was lucky. I have also travelled extensively within New Zealand - or so I thought, until I recently did a road trip with my 15 year-old daughter. We headed south from Timaru to Dunedin to visit my middle son doing his Uni stint at Otago, and from there ventured into the Catlins.

Reason number 1:
It brings back that sense of awe

You know the "awe" feeling? The first part of the noun "awesome"! Seeing something for the first time (I had never been to the Catlins) is pretty awe-inspiring and I very much felt as if I was entering somewhere magical when I drove by the sign welcoming us to the Catlins area.

Reason number 2:
It gives you permission to wonder
I seriously started to wonder why on earth I had never been here and what's more; how this part of the world had remained so sparsely populated! I wondered how a man could be brave enough to eek out his living from a decrepit but wonderful old house-bus selling intricately delicate "Health Robinsonesque" mini-contraptions and I wondered how much I could buy a bit of land here for. The Catlins - wonderment abounds!

Reason number 3:
You see your country with tourist-eyes
Everything seen for the first time is seen with new fresh eyes; eyes untainted by expectation, eyes that see with clarity and freshness and a new (hopefully) appreciation....like a tourist might view it. Perhaps you may even find it worthy of photographing and perhaps you might be truly amazed by the places in your own country that foreigners are willing to come from around the world to marvel at...with their tourist-eyes.

Reason number 4:
You speak the same language as everyone else. 

This of course makes road directions easy to navigate...without google maps or a GPS.
Just for fun though my daughter and I did briefly consider making up a weird language just so we could feel what it might like to be a tourist in our own country. Interestingly once we got to Queenstown people expected us to be foreigners and spoke v e r y slowly to us. I felt like a tourist....and actually it felt pretty special.

Reason number 5:
Because to travel in your own country means you can take small "micro-breaks" more regularly than if you were embarking on a big overseas trip. 

That means you could plan a weekend get-away with delicious regularity and see much of the country in small "do-able" chunks (not perhaps as achievable if you live in USA, China or Russia!). In my country - New Zealand, most of the land is easily accessible by car without having to make long-haul journeys. There are many towns dotting the country from top to toe with affordable accommodation and picturesque camp-sites. It's a great way to meet "real" tourists and also to learn more about your own country.
 And finally...because travelling anywhere is good for the soul. 

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