Jeremy and I are among the hundreds-of-thousands of travelers who saw their spring and summer 2020 plans destroyed.
Due to visit Japan in April, it would have been my first trip back since moving from Kobe 15 years ago. Excited to see old friends and revisit my favorite places, I’d been planning the trip for months. It would have been Jeremy’s first visit to Japan, and I couldn’t wait to play tour guide.
Only as confirmed case numbers started to steadily climb again, did I realize it’s unlikely we will see Japan in 2020.
Countries around the world have travel restrictions or quarantine mandates on visitors. As well as over a dozen states doing the same.
Many tourist attractions are yet to open. Those opening are using strict social distancing practices, including requiring masks, and restricting visitor numbers. We’re finding the majority of attractions are only opening outdoor areas at this time.
Shifting Attitudes About Travel
Though the world is eager to get out of their houses, various surveys, like the May 2020 survey done by The Vacationer, show many of us remain cautious about traveling too far from home this year. Specifically, there’s a hesitancy towards air travel, especially abroad.
In addition to catching Covid-19, our friends have cited fears about travel restrictions being implemented while they are away, not being able to find appropriate insurance, and some just don’t have the finances for a lavish vacation this year.
Through Disappointment, We See An Opportunity
Few will disagree on the benefits of travel, on the mind and the soul. However, we don’t have to get away to the far reaches of the world to gain those benefits.
An Opportunity To Support Your Local Community
The world is hurting for travel dollars right now, that includes your local city, county, and state. When you spend your vacation money locally, you’re helping your home get back on its feet.
Whether it’s staying in a boutique Bed & Breakfast, grabbing a few pastries from the local bakery, or playing a round of putt-putt golf. There’s never been a better time to show support in our own communities.
With many restaurants now doing take out, it’s easier than ever to grab food for a picnic in the park.
What local businesses can you support?
An Opportunity To Visit Places You’ve Never Been
All of us are guilty of thinking, it’ll always be there. A local attraction, historical site, a park, or maybe a restaurant.
In Kobe, there was a little restaurant I walked past every day. Ahh, I need to try that place, I always thought. It wasn’t until my last week in the country that I went. The food was fantastic and the owners were lovely. And shame on me, I only went once.
Where’s that place you’ve always wanted to go?
An Opportunity To Learn Your Local History
A prime driver for travel is to learn about other cultures. Though few of us know much about our own local history. I would bet there’s historical sites near you that you’ve never been.
The best part is, as historical sites are typically located in parks, practicing social distancing is often easier than many larger attractions.
We’ve started a list of of all the local sites we have yet to visit. I couldn’t believe we are so close to the site of the first authenticated discovery of gold in the U.S. and we’ve never been.
How can you learn more about your town’s role in history?
An Opportunity To Do More With Your Time
Instead of spending a day or two in airports, spend less time getting to your destination and more time enjoying your time off. Consider a road trip, where your journey is your destination.
Or, break your time off into extended weekends. Instead of one two-week trip, you could have 5 to 10 extended weekends.
What attractions are within 2 to 3 hours drive from your house?
An Opportunity To Do More But Spend Less
Traveling locally is a great way to save on the cost of a flight and a rental car.
Though gas prices increased as the world began to open again, many market experts are predicting prices to stay below pre-lockdown levels. At least for the next few months. Sounds like an opportunity for a road trip to me.
It’s also a great time to look for local resident discounts. Especially, if you live in an area dependent on tourism, you are likely to find some great discounts. This is something North Carolina does not do enough of; I sure do miss my Florida resident discounts.
What businesses are offering discounts in your local area?
Celebrating Local Travel
As restrictions start to ease in our neck of the woods, we’ve been taking the opportunity to do a little local travel ourselves.
Inspired to visit more national and state parks, we’ve stumbled across several interesting finds, including the Pee Dee National Wildlife Reserve. Surprised to have the park to ourselves, we spent hours wandering the large reserve. It’s a picture perfect spot for local travel.
We asked out readers to share photos of their favorite local destinations. This could be a favorite park, walking trail, beach, or a lesser known local attraction.
We got back some great off the beaten path locations, from as far away as Australia and Japan, to as close as Pennsylvania and Florida. Check out these local’s favorite spots.