Other Travel Advice

How to Be a Tourist in Your Own City

You can hardly sit still in your desk, you’re overworked, underpaid, and just straight up exhausted. The only thing you feel could fix and rejuvenate you right now would be a vacation. But there’s an issue—you don’t have any vacation days left and/or you haven’t saved enough money to go away. What do you do?

Well shockingly the answer is probably right under your nose, literally. There are so many ways to be a tourist and get the satisfaction you get from travel in your own city or near enough to your city that you won’t have to go very far. Here are some tips and tricks to do just that…

Plan where you want to go – make a bucket list

I live in Toronto, and although I realize not everyone lives in a massive city with endless things to do, there are probably things to do in your own town, or a short drive or bus ride away. Do some research on must-do things in your area and read things you would normally read before a vacation somewhere away from home. Then, from that list, make a bucket list or a to-do list. What things look interesting or what are some things you’ve always wanted to do but just didn’t take the time to? For example: my Toronto bucket list includes going to visit Casa Loma, doing the Edgewalk on the CN Tower, and riding the double decker tour bus(to name a few).

Toronto Island

Explore areas you’ve never been before

If you live in or near a big city, there are most definitely places and areas you’ve never been before. The best part is, you can often explore on your own two feet and save yourself money. Take the bus to a different neighbourhood and just get out and walk, try a new restaurant, and let yourself get lost like you do when you travel. You’ll be amazed at the things you discover.

Take tours

I realize not every town has tours happening, but like I said, if you travel to a nearby city, you will more than likely find different tours you can go on. Do your research like you would do before a trip and find some fun tours you can do in your own city. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit of money, it’ll be worth it if it’s something you’ve never done before. In Toronto, our museum (Royal Ontario Museum) hosts free walks on a weekly basis around different areas of our city. Check out your local museums and library to see what they have to offer!

Medieval Times Toronto

Stop looking at things as being “too touristy”

The only way you can possibly be a tourist in your own city is by changing the way you think. Stop looking at things as being “too touristy” and start embracing them instead. When you travel, I’m sure that you go to places that locals would also call “too touristy,” so why not do it in your own town?

Attend events and festivals

Often I find myself unaware of the events and festivals happening around me almost every single week. Especially during the high seasons in your city, there will likely be several local events happening that only take place once a year. Look up a local calendar and get out there to attend some of these! Even the lamest sounding events can often be a blast, plus it’s a great way to interact with tourists that may be traveling from other places!

Toronto Pride

Ask questions and do research

You know when you travel you feel like you’re asking a million questions and constantly referring to your guidebook and Google to learn everything you can about a certain place? Do that for your own city. I think you’d be shocked about how much you’d learn! You may think you know a lot about where you live, but do you really? What is the history behind that old church you used to go to as a child? What is that a statue of down by your local park? Start stopping and asking the questions.

Show visitors and friends around

If you can’t get over being a tourist yourself, show other tourists around your city. If you have friends coming to visit, plot out all the places you think they should see and learn facts about those places to share with your friends. You can also seek out tourists to show around by joining some travelers Facebook groups and letting people know you’re available if they’re visiting your city. This can be an awesome way to meet new people, and makes it easier to see your city through a tourist’s eye.

A few Facebook groups to check out:
Girls Who Travel
Girl vs Globe
Part-Time Traveler Talk

Baliloca Purse

Take photos

This may seem like a weird tip, but start taking pictures when you’re out and about in your city. When you start to see your city through the lens of a camera like you would on your travels, you begin to see your city in a new perspective. Perhaps you’ll now notice things you’ve never noticed before, and since you are putting yourself in similar shoes to your travels, you’ll feel more inspired by the things around you.

The opportunity for exploration and adventure is right outside your door, you don’t need a fancy vacation to give you that recharge you need (although it is nice).  Learn to appreciate and enjoy where you live now, and you’ll begin to feel like every weekend is a vacation.

What are your favourite ways to explore your own town/city more?

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