Have you ever considered becoming a tourist in your own hometown as if you were seeing it for the first time?
One of the things I love about being an expat is that you can feel like a tourist by day and return to your own bed by night.
Being now in Lisbon, my hometown
, made me think on ways I could get that tourist feeling back and stop taking for granted the awesome travel experiences I have available right on my doorstep.
1. Embrace Your Inner Tourist
To embrace your inner tourist you firstly need to shake off any notion that being a tourist is somehow wrong. You’ll need to forget everything you know about what is cool in your hometown, cast aside routine and be ready and willing to get tacky if necessary. When deciding how to fill your weekend think, “what would a tourist do?”
2. Turn Off Your WI-FI
Most importantly, try disconnecting from your smartphone. It may be more difficult to unplug when there’s a Wi-Fi connection everywhere you go, but ignoring work emails and social media updates will help you feel like you’re truly on vacation. Have real conversations. Don’t rely on a GPS to get you where you need to go – when was the last time you got lost in your hometown? Perhaps it’s for the best.
It’s hard to meet new people these days. But if you’re like me and have friends living all over the country, you miss being able to pick up the phone (or walk next door) to make last minute dinner plans. Be proactive in creating opportunities to meet new people. Take the time to talk to local business owners and residents walking the streets. Ask them about their favourite spots to visit in the city.
You can also join a Meet Up
group which is a great way to meet different people passing through the city. Search their website for list of events happening in your local area.
Do you hire a car for every new city you discover? Forget it Leave the car keys at home and get on your feet. It’s amazing what you can discover when you take the time to walk past it.
5. Bring Your Enthusiasm
This one can be tough if you have lived in the same town for many years but you’re not going to be able to get into the mindset of a traveller unless you rustle up some enthusiasm for the area in which you live. Fake it until you start to believe it.
6. Carry Your Camera
It wasn’t until I left Lisbon that I realised how little photos I had of my favourite spots as carrying a camera and snapping snaps is not something you do as part of your regular home routine. But it could be. Carry your camera and you’ll immediately feel more like a tourist, plus you’ll end up with a collection of great photographic souvenirs.
7. Do ‘The Must Do Things’ In Your Area
You’ve been hiking in New Zealand, snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef, gambled in Vegas but what’s the thing to do in your area? It could be a good hike, a particular dining experience or simply take in the view at a well known lookout. Just do it.
8. Join A Tour
I never knew how much I didn’t know about Lisbon until I took a walking tour
. Joining a tour with a professional guide can provide insight into the history and culture of your home city that you never knew before.
When you’re a tourist in your home city, you have to be willing to get creative and try things you normally wouldn’t do. Why not book a walking or biking tour? Head to a park, museum or market you have never visited before. Challenge yourself to look beyond the main tourist attractions, and dig up the hidden gems of your city. When you’re travelling in your own town, you’ll feel inclined to stay in your comfort zone. But the best memories are often made through a willingness to draw new boundaries. Don’t be afraid to explore.
9. Go back in history
One aspect of travel is learning about the area’s history so do the same for your own home town. Dust off your history books and see how your city came to be what it is today. Then go visit all those spots. Plus, you get to look super smart and show off when you do have friends or family visiting from out of town.
10. Show Around
The best way to see your home town through the eyes of an outsider is to show them around it. It wasn’t until I met Paul and start showing him around the best parts of Lisbon that I really began to appreciate my own hometown.