The 100-Mile Tourist

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You’ve probably heard of the 100-mile diet. I’m a globavore so I don’t follow it, but I admire what they’re hoping to accomplish: healthful eating, smaller environmental footprint, and increased awareness of your local community. These are all good things, and I encourage anyone to try a 100-mile diet for at least a month. You’d be surprised what foods are near you! (In BC, absolutely brilliant Salt Spring Island lamb, the world’s best spot prawns, and amazing white wine are all close. Be jealous.) This isn’t about that though. This is about why you should “travel local” as much as possible. In 830 words, here’s why I’m a 100-mile tourist.

I’ve been all over Europe, Asia, and North America, so I’m very lucky. I’ve shot a wedding in Santorini, kissed a girl in Paris, set foot on Mount Fuji, puked in a bar in Newcastle, fished in China, visited Ground Zero, read “Hamlet” in Bruges, played music in Grande Prairie, and contemplated seeing a sex show in Amsterdam. There’s probably more, but that’s all that comes to mind for the time being. I’ve travelled, and I’m grateful for that. Recently though, I spent a weekend in Kamloops – technically 162 miles away – and started weighing the pros and cons of travelling local vs. travelling global. What I found was, outside of bragging rights, I was actually having an equal amount of fun in my own backyard! The best part? AT NO POINT DID IT STRAIN MY FINANCES. For people looking to save money while seeing more of the world, start with the places close to you. It can be equally as adventurous, and it’s more likely you’ll be able to bring your friends with you as well. What you discover is even MORE valuable because you know it’s accessible at any time! And because it’s cheaper, you can go more often! It’s win-win!

Instead of one big vacation every few years, I now travel locally once every few weeks. Within 100 miles of me, I’ve formed great memories with friends. 89 miles northwest of Vancouver lies a retiree community called Courtenay, BC. I still remember visiting the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort, and walking down to the water with my friend “S” in the middle of the night. Looking out across the water with no light pollution around, the sky was filled with stars more vibrant than I’d ever seen. The ocean was pure black, the night was quiet, and we were alone. As I dipped my feet into the water, it felt like we were on the edge of the world. Even now, I look back on that as my fondest memory. You don’t need to go far to experience the best the world has to offer.

Or what about Pemberton, 75 miles north? Hiking around Nairn Falls, the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in, and the restaurant that served me life-changing pesto? Brilliant. It’s my happy place, and I can go there anytime. And then there’s Whidbey Island, 94 miles south. I went with “L” and caught a private Amanda Palmer concert there, shredding away on my ukulele despite knowing only two chords. Of course, I have even more stories within 100 miles of Vancouver, and that’s kind of the beauty of it: Every time I made the decision to travel local, my experiences didn’t diminish. My microtravel made it so I could travel more and form even more memories using up less time and money! It seems crazy to me that people fly halfway across the world without even knowing what’s just across the border. It’s equally nuts that people can blow $1,000+ on a single two-day trip when they can have five $200 microtrips! I’m not saying world travel is bad necessarily. I just believe if you’re looking for bang-for-buck, microtravel might be something you’d want to consider.

There’s less pressure to see all the sights and pack your itinerary full too. Most of my memories of Europe are marred by fatigue, and though I’ve technically visited some of the greatest cathedrals in the world, I was bleary-eyed for most of them. Microtravel means no jetlag, and less guilt for sleeping in. I’ve had vacations in the past that were more stressful than my day-to-day life because we were always rushing around. Remember how I said I’ve been to Mount Fuji? The truth is I was only there for 20 minutes before we all had to pile back onto the bus. My 100-mile tourism has always been more relaxed. For someone like me, microtravel met my needs in both leisure and frugality. Maybe it’s just right for you too.

In 10 days, I’ll be spending the weekend in Nanaimo in a private room for $10/night. 38 miles west, and it’s just a short ferry ride away.

What’s near you?

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