After careful consideration, it seems that the masses have come to a conclusion: traveling rocks. I love traveling, you love travel, probably even your great aunt Dolores loves traveling. But unfortunately there are some glaring drawbacks to traveling. You can’t, for example, travel all the time with reckless abandon. Things like ‘eating’ and ‘sleeping somewhere clean at night’ and ‘paying admission rather than breaking in’ to various locales seem to have a nasty little habit of tapping a hole in your wallet and draining the funds straight out of it. There are, however, remedies to said problems. One of the best remedies is traveling your home country.
Contrary to popular belief, exploring within the walls of your homeland can be just as, or even more rewarding than venturing into a foreign territory, especially if you don’t speak the language and aren’t planning on staying long enough to learn it. Another advantage of traveling among your compatriots and seeing how the other half live is that you are bound to have friends who will let you sleep at their place for free in at least a few destinations, and if you’re lucky they may even show you around and give you the insider’s perspective.
But is it really traveling? Does it just feel wrong? If traveling without collecting passport stamps is still leaving a bitter taste in your mouth, jazz it up a bit. Since I am from the states, and you may be as well, let me detail two ways in which you can travel this country and feel good about it.
The most popular way to see America is to take a road trip. When you speak to people who have traveled anywhere, they will undoubtedly tell you how amazing their time was and how much they loved it. If you speak to someone who has taken a road trip, they will surely fall into this category. However, the big difference here is that people who are speaking about their past road trip(s) invariably have a genuine and authentic way of detailing them that let’s you know they’re not just blowing hot air. Getting to know one’s homeland can be eye opening, particularly for those of you who are plagued with the patented American reverse nationalism.
Another great way to travel in your home country is to make it a point to see as many festivals as you possibly can over the course of a summer (or even just hit up one or two). Music festivals abound all summer long, but there are great food festivals, beer and wine festivals, and many random celebrations that exist for little or no reason other than putting your party hats on for a day or two. My personal favorite is Pirate’s Weekend which is celebrated in Alexandria Bay, New York, where people cruise around the river on boats soaking each other with super soakers by day, and head to the mainland to patronize the local bars by night. You truly haven’t seen a party until you’ve seen Pirate’s weekend, which actually lasts for two consecutive weekends in August (it was eventually determined that the mini holiday was far too amazing to be contained by just one weekend).
If you plan it well ahead of time you can manage to combine these two ideas relatively easily. For a comprehensive list of food, wine and other festivals in every state, see this website: http://www.foodreference.com/html/us-food-festivals.html.
My personal belief is that the best way to go about a road trip is to call all your friends, throw it out there on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other social medium you have at your hands, see who responds with hosting offers, and make your itinerary from there. For those of you who like to go by the book, or ‘plan’ a little more intensely, there are great websites that can help you pick an awesome route, like this one: http://www.roadtripusa.com/.
So remember, just because you don’t have the money to fly halfway around the world, just because you’re stuck living at home or working a desk job, does NOT mean you need to hang up your travel boots and dream of sandy beaches far away. A true traveler never stops traveling, no matter where they are.