Looking for a way to travel more in 2021 while supporting your local community? Look no further.
This article will discuss 8 reasons why it is better to travel locally (they are difficult to argue with!) and give you 6 suggestions and ideas to help inspire your next local adventure.
Listen to an episode of The Solo Female Traveler where I discuss the importance of traveling locally with the wonderful host, Lu Colmenares
8 Reasons it is Better to Travel Locally
1. Travel locally to support your local economy (and neighbors!)
Did you know that supporting the local businesses where you live has a positive impact on your life? Local businesses invest far more of their revenue locally through hiring local employees, using local vendors, banks, and service providers.
Local businesses have been documented to circulate far more of their revenue into the local economy which has many positive effects. It also means more taxes being paid locally translating to better infrastructure and local services.
Estimates say that when you spend $100 at a local businesses approximately 70% stays in the local economy compared to non-local businesses with around 30%. This is the local multiplier effect or local premium.
2. Gain a deeper understanding of local culture and history when you travel locally
Local history is much more personal and interesting – if you ask me! This is where you can learn about the human side of policies, conflict, societal changes, and other large scale events. While an event could have taken place across your country, how was your individual town impacted? What are the stories that people share?
It can be easy to take your surroundings for granted. Driving past the same buildings every day for years you might not have given them thought, but maybe they were part of the underground railroad , or the street art you walk past was once part of the Berlin Wall.
I join historical societies’ Facebook pages to see photos of places I lived or read the stories people share in the comments. I am always learning something new whether it is about my birthplace or my current home in Ljubljana.
Learning about local history and culture improves community pride, fosters tolerance, and encourages engagement and participation. It contributes to one’s local or national identity allowing them to feel connected to their community and its outcomes.
3. Local travel is more eco-friendly and sustainable
Automatically your carbon footprint is reduced if you are not flying across the planet or taking a 10-hour train or bus ride. Traveling locally also means less time traveling and more time enjoying your surroundings.
Not only is local travel more sustainable due to less travel distance and supporting local businesses, but also because there is less waste involved. Think about all of the small things that add up. If you are flying you will be getting a blanket – wrapped in plastic, maybe earbuds – wrapped in plastic, you will receive your drink – in a plastic cup. And as much as I love a good hotel buffet they are documented to have incredibly high food waste.
4. Travel locally to connect with other communities of people
Another positive benefit of traveling locally is connecting with your local community. Earlier I discussed learning about the history and individual experiences of your neighbors, but you can also learn about different cultures. Maybe there is a community of people from a different country or religion that you are not familiar with. Here is an opportunity to learn more about others around you.
Prejudice is grounded in fear of the unknown. Putting a human face and personal connection is one way to bridge the gap. Exposing yourself to their cultural events, food, festivals, or language can help build these blocks of understanding.
5. Traveling locally is more affordable
Overall, traveling locally is more affordable. Not having to pay for travel insurance, visas, plane tickets, accommodation, and anything else you might need quickly saves on travel bills. Traveling to a local museum might just require a short bike ride or a cheap bus ticket plus an entrance fee.
When traveling locally you can also take advantage of doing a picnic which can reduce eating out costs, walk or bike to your destination, and because you are more likely to be flexible about visiting days and times you can take advantage of free entrance days or reduce priced hours. These can be difficult to catch when you are visiting from far away (or abroad).
6. Local travel is easier to plan and more flexible
Local travel is just plain easier to plan, and you can be far more flexible. You can wake up on a Saturday morning and think the weather is great, I’d love to go on an adventure and just go. No need to book a plane ticket, hotel, check if you need a visa, get time off of work, the list goes on and it is exhausting.
Local travel gives you the flexibility to just pick up and go with a moment’s notice. You most likely speak the language, are familiar with current events, know the local spots and even hidden gems.
When travelers visit a new place they often hit the main sights. With limited time there is only so much that can be done, and the most popular sights are popular for a reason. Once you have ticked off that list, now you can dive even deeper! Find the hidden bakery with the best-baked goods or quirky architecture in a neighborhood you rarely visit.
7. Travel more frequently through local travel
Who doesn’t want to travel more? Due to the lower cost of local travel, you can now stretch your budget to travel even more often! Instead of a 2-week excursion abroad, you can do a day trip every other weekend or once a month.
8. Travel locally means no luggage limits
Okay, this is limited to those who have a car or maybe taking a train or bus to a nearby town. No weight limits on luggage is a dream! I love a good road trip and bringing anything and everything I want. Yes, that means I have packed several cameras, more outfits than I could possibly wear, and most importantly – all of the snacks.
Ideas for How to Travel Locally
Now that we have learned eight benefits to traveling locally I wanted to share some ideas to inspire you to take your next local trip. Here are all very easy ways to find local activities, events, or tours that I use to help me plan my trips.
Take a walking tour
Do a Google search to see if there are any walking tours or tour guides in your area. Some tour guides specialize in certain aspects of history or culture so you are bound to learn something new! Check with a local tourism board if there are any local tours available.
Bonus Tip: Virtualtrips is a great resource for doing virtual walking tours around the world from the comfort and safety of your home. All tours are conducted by local tour guides and are completely free – although it is polite to tip your tour guide!
There are a shocking number of museums in every little corner of the world. Some of them might be right under your nose! The last time I visited my hometown I did a search for things to do and found several museums I never visited. I was in for a treat and learned so much about my heritage and my ancestors’ experiences.
Go on a hike at a local park
Nature is healing! A study from Nov 2020 explored how a regular dose of nature may improve mental health during the pandemic. Another study from July 2019 also discusses the relationship between nature and mental health. Check out local green spaces to see if there are any nature walks or hikes that you can do on your own or with a local walking group.
Check local calendar for cultural events
Local calendars are full of cultural events to attend and oftentimes they are free. Local town or city websites, local tourism board sites, or websites like In Your Pocket or events on Facebook are great places to start. You can usually browse by date or topic to find upcoming events of interest in your area.
Take a cooking class or food tour
You can’t really go wrong with food. There are tons of food tours and cooking classes taking place across the world. There are many things that can be learned and experienced through a cooking class or food tour. You can learn how to make a traditional dish from your hometown to help carry the tradition and knowledge, or you can taste the latest craft beer or sweets available in your area.
Pro Tip: Eventbrite offers food and drink-themed online events from cooking classes to virtual dining parties. Some of which are completely free!
Visit an art gallery
Differing from museums there are many private art galleries scattered across the world. Some of them being run in dedicated spaces, pop-up galleries or events, and sometimes within small businesses. I have visited a lot of cafes that also double as art galleries that change out the work every few months. It is a good feeling supporting the local cafe as well as familiarizing myself with local art – and if it sparks an interest maybe even purchase it.
Save this article for later!
Save this article to Pinterest to share with friends or to access later.
Why Buy Local? An Assessment of the Economic Advantages of Shopping at Locally Owned Businesses [link]
Think Local! 7 Reasons Why Supporting Local Business is Good for Your Community [link]
Locally Owned vs Chain: The Local Premium [link]
Biting Off More Than They Can Chew: Food Waste at Hotel Breakfast Buffets [link]