Forever a Tourist
A few years back, I saw a card that seemed to express my life perfectly. It said, “We don’t go on vacation, we just move all the time.” I remember laughing because it really did sum up our life. We tend not to take huge, elaborately-planned cross-country trips (with the exception of going back to see family if we are living far away), but we try to maximize the region of the country we live in at the time and see as much as we can while we are there.
The idea of always exploring is really at the core of our lives. One of my strong beliefs is that our lifestyle of moving often really isn’t worth it at all unless we get to experience new things, meet new people and see new corners of the world. So, our family tends to have the mentality that we are forever tourists.
But, when you know you will only be in an area for a limited number of months or years, you really have to be strategic in order to see and do as much as you can (and to try and not break the bank account.) Here are a few tips on what to do when you land in a new area to make sure you see everything your new town has to offer:
Head to the Visitor’s Center – Most towns will have some sort of visitor’s center or chamber of commerce and they are treasure troves of information for people new to the area. These locations are geared toward advertising the best things the area has to offer, so they are a great place to start. Pick up some brochures, talk to the people working or volunteering there and ask them the top five things they would suggest you do first in the area. I’m sure they will give you their top five and then a long list of other places to add to your list later on.
Ask the locals – I’ll be honest, I’m an extrovert, so I love making new friends in the areas we move to. There are so many neat people we have met through our moves and so many friends we still keep in contact with after years of moving away. I think some of the best tips we have received on what to do, where to eat and what trips to take have come from our local friends in an area. Who better to ask about the best of the best in a town than the people who have grown up in the area and called it home for a big part of their lives? And usually, they love to brag on their town and share what they have learned through the years.
But… don’t act like a local – I can’t tell you how many locals I’ve talked to will say they have never taken the time to see the sites around where they live. They have the mentality that it will be there next summer, or next weekend, and they never actually get out there and see what is around them. Don’t do that!
Pick up free magazines/newspapers – I know no one needs more paper to clutter their house, but don’t rush past those stands near the door at the grocery store or gym. The free local magazines and newspapers from an area can include a ton of articles about cool local events. We’ve found great festivals to check out and neat restaurants to try from our local free magazine in the town we live in now. Each month, when a new issue comes out, I can’t wait to open it up and see what they are talking about.
Check out the events calendar in the newspaper – Local newspapers are usually great resources for seasonal events that are big in the area. Be sure to check out what the newspaper features and see if it is something you want to check out.
Find local social media pages – I found with my last move that when I started liking a local place or event page, Facebook automatically suggested other pages that I might like that relate to my area. This helped me find a ton of other local attractions to explore. Also, using Twitter or Instagram, hashtag your new hometown or nearby areas and see what it brings up. This is a great way to find unbiased opinions about what people love in the area.
Make a new hometown bucket list – Once you do a little research, map out a list of the things you would love to see and do before your next move. Be sure to include some local things, some items that may be day trip sites, such as neat state or national parks and some fun long weekend trips that would be an easy drive from your home.
So remember, while moving is definitely stressful and tough at times, it also gives you the opportunity to see the new world around you. Get out there and take advantage of it!
-by Emily Robertson