Everyone I know has been bitten by the wanderlust bug and is constantly on the lookout for the next best place to explore. Money being the culprit binding our wings, we push our travel plans for later and invariably, it never happens.
Staycation, the latest vacation term brought out due to tight budgets, ridiculous air flight fees, stay costs etc. Just because we are the economy is going through a rough patch, we shouldn't have to hold back our desire to travel. So let’s see how one can get touristy in their own city! You don’t have to pay for stay, no foreign ticket prices at tourist spots, no flight charges, no hassle of packing and unpacking etc. etc.
Warning: For a successful staycation you will need to cast aside routine and be open to doing thing outside your comfort zone. When deciding how to spend your weekend, going to your ‘regular’ bar, shopping centre or just sitting at home is not allowed under any circumstances!Think like a tourist, be a tourist.
Get googling – Everybody has varied interests, some want to visit museums, some want to relax in the beach, some would like to try out the local cuisines, so get googling on what interests you. Use each search words like “Top 10 places to see in Pune” “Best sea food eateries in Cochin”, “ Famous museums in Mumbai”, “ Must go beaches in Goa”. I’d suggest buying one of those travel guides as they are handy and have maps( just in case your Google Maps gives up on you). Read up on Tripadvisor, Tripoto etc. how other tourists go about visiting your city.
Pen down what when how? - After you have penned down everything you intend to do, get down to the logistics of how you’re going to get there. The best part about being a tourist in your city is that the tour can go on for a year. Intersperse the travel plans weekly so that you get a break from work, you get the feel of travelling and the best part- you’re getting paid as you’re not on leave! See your city with fresh eyes. Don’t use your personal mode of transport firstly because public transport is more economical and secondly it feels more touristy! Walk. Walk wherever you can. It’s amazing what you can discover when you take the time to walk past it.
Go local – Local events are what give you a feel of the culture. Make sure you attend at least one local festival with the natives, preferably something you haven’t heard of or been a part of before. Sign up for a local bus tour and you can perhaps learn a lot about old buildings and other unexplored parts of the city from your tour guide. Go to flea markets, book fairs, auctions and make yourself feel like a part of the city. Buy yourself a souvenir to remember this adventure just like you would when you go somewhere abroad. Look up local blogs and check out local newspapers for event details.
Use seasons and topography to your advantage – So perhaps this idea strikes you during winter - Go hiking or to some local hill station and experience the misty mountains. During spring go to the local river and get fishing or paddle boating, river rafting, biking, fruit picking etc. During summer ,to beat the heat you can you can spend the day at the beach, going to amusement parks, trekking up forts etc.
Gorge on the native cuisine – Embrace the gastronome in you and eat all that your pocket allows. Break free from your comfort zone and experiment the diverse cuisines your city has to offer. Read up about the cuisines, why’s and how’s of why the locals use that particular ingredient etc. Someday you will get an opportunity to boast about this knowledge and experience. You can thank me then!
Embrace a bit of history –Every city has museums and monuments illustrating an exciting part of the city’s history which is definitely worth checking out. They say, memories created at a museum never expire. When you witness the past, the evolution and what made your city the way it is today, you will view your city differently then on. Old, rusty, dimly lit libraries are always a pleasure for pondering and reading. Moreover, they give you information that even google can’t provide, so make sure you pay the oldest local library a visit.
Last but not the least, keep your spirits high and fake the enthusiasm until you start to believe it. DON’T forget your camera. Take cheesy pictures next to the welcome board sign of your city, the monument your city is famous for or even a famous bridge in your city .Even if you've already seen a lot of your city's tourist spots, embrace them through a tourists eye once again and you will see what your city has to offer !