Travel your home: How to experience your city in a new light

by Lillie Forteau /
Lillie Forteau's picture
Jan 22, 2024 / 0 comments

A man at the front desk of a hotel we were checking in at was making light conversation. I don't remember what my mother asked, but I remember he responded with, “traveling to the place you live will change your view of your home.”

He then told his story of how he gets to know his new hometown, to get a hotel and look up the sights to see. 

Travel your home: How to experience your city in a new light

I don’t know why that stuck with me, but it did. 

I remember thinking about how much money that might be; where would you even stay? So many questions. I’m grown now, and I feel like I’ve come to understand the basic concept, at least, of what that man was saying. I was too stuck on the impossibilities for me that I didn’t see the possibilities for everyone. 

Traveling your town can be as simple as taking a walk, or as complex as a vacation with spa days, four course meals, and a resort to follow. I do think there are some elements that make the experience meaningful, no matter the cost. 

So what’s the point? 

For me, it was getting a new spark from a place I’ve been for a while. It was to see the arts and culture again with something eventful, instead of a dreary walk. But it can also mean getting to know your community more, connecting to new things you may have missed, or just getting some fresh air and a break from your life.

Kehinde Wiley exhibit at Detroit Institute of Art. From Travel your home: How to experience your city in a new light
Kehinde Wiley exhibit at Detroit Institute of Art

How can you start? 

Well, you can start by just leaving your front door, if that’s all you can do! But now that I’ve done this a few times, I’ve made sure to do these things:

Assess your budget
Even if it’s a very vague amount, know how much you want to spend, and how long you’d like it to last. You could set a budget of $200; what do you want to do with that? Get a hotel and see a few things, maybe go to a cafe? Or would you rather have a day trip, pay to visit a museum, go to a show, maybe eat out at the local hotspot restaurant? 

Chihuly chandelier, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. From Travel your home: How to experience your city in a new light
Chihuly chandelier, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Research
Find out everything you can about your place. Where are the parks? Do they have significance to the city? Is there a favorite, well-known spot? Can you go there? What is this place known for: Beer? Theatre? Holiday lights? Look up terms that you would use when you’re traveling across the world.

Laptop research. From Travel your home: How to experience your city in a new light

Take out your bias and ask around
Don’t overlook certain things. I think the best way of doing this is asking people you know. Maybe your coworkers or close friends have hidden gems you’ve never heard of or been to!

Plan
Plan out your day. Easy enough, right? Well, when I have done this (twice now), I make sure to account for how much energy I have, and have a backup plan. I made a whole day out of exploring Lansing with my partner when we first met, so I could get to know his city and he could see it with new eyes. 

We ended up not having much energy after a long walk and stopping by a cafe. Instead of doing the rest of our plans, we sat in a small garden for a while and observed the natural beauty before us; we stopped by a playground to and took turns on the swings; and we went home pretty soon after. It was a lot better for us to do a little bit and be spontaneous than if we had stuck by the book and really worn ourselves out. I look back on that day and it’s one of my fondest memories of the early days in our relationship. 

At a local coffeeshop. From Travel your home: How to experience your city in a new light

Don’t stress yourself out, don’t overextend your budget
Put yourself first! As mentioned, do what makes you most comfortable, what's most accessible to you, and never put your daily life or health at expense.

Street art at Detroit’s Eastern Market. From Travel your home: How to experience your city in a new light
Street art at Detroit’s Eastern Market

 

I really hope that you feel inspired to go out for a meaningful walk, look at some art, shop local, or fully plan out a getaway…all in your hometown.

 

Lillie Forteau is the Music, Arts, and Culture Editor for Wandering Educators