Around the world, many countries are still in lockdown. Others, like Germany, are now looking to relax Covid-19 restrictions; but it will be done in tiny steps. As it now seems clear, among the last to reopen will restaurants and hotels. In addition, travelling for leisure is likely still many months away.
Even once hotels will reopen, we might still face restrictions crossing borders for some time. Realistically, we could face a period where travelling means taking trips in your own country as the only option.
On the positive side, travelling only domestically for some time will help to reduce our own carbon footprint, be less expensive while supporting the local communities and it will give you the opportunity to experience your country in a completely new way.
As I am starting to put together a plan to travel domestically as soon as possible, I thought I would share what you could do as a tourist in your own country.
Revisit the main tourist spots in your country
Yes, you should act like a tourist in your own country.
In fact, all the tourists want to see those iconic places for a reason. They are usually beautiful, dramatic or have an intriguing story to tell.
With mainly domestic travels for some time, you will now even get the opportunity to revisit the main tourist spots in your country without large crowds.
Therefore, make a list of all the main tourist spots in your country and go.
Explore your country’s history
As much as you might be aware of your country’s history, when has been the last time you’ve really taken a trip down the history line?
From archaeological sites, understanding more how people lived in you country in the early days of settling, during the middle ages or just at the start of the 19th century, there are most likely still various places where you can explore life in those times. Or take a trip around the various architectural styles in your country.
Alternatively, you could also put together a trip following some of your country’s most famous writers, visiting the places where the stories they have written about are playing.
Explore your country’s heritage sites
There are currently more than 1,100 World Heritage Sites across 167 countries. They include important landmarks or areas of important cultural, historic or scientific importance.
Among the world’s most famous World Heritage Sites you will find places such as the Taj Mahal, the Acropolis in Athens, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China or the Palace and Park of Versailles. Just check out the list of global World Heritage Sites to find those in your country.
In addition, it is also worth looking up the list of national heritage sites in your country. Like the World Heritage Sites, these are places of significant value of cultural heritage or historic in a country.
Visit the smaller cities in your country
You love city breaks and already have visited the main cities in your country? Great for you. But chances are you have not given much thought to the smaller cities in your country.
To tell the truth, this description is true for me as well. I have been to Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, and yes, I have also been to several smaller cities like Cologne or Düsseldorf. But there are so many more so called ‘secondary cities’ I’ve never bothered to put on my bucket list.
I am actually not talking about small rural villages (they are beautiful too) but rather the so called ‘secondary cities’. Those cities which are smaller and lesser known but still offer the full range of city activities.
Great examples of secondary cities are Girona in Spain (instead of Barcelona), Porto in Portugal (instead of Lisbon), Utrecht (instead of Amsterdam), Lyon or Bordeaux (instead of Paris). The list goes on and on.
So now is the time to make a list of the lesser known smaller cities in the country and go out to explore them.
Go on a culinary tour around your country
Food is a great way to learn more about a country and its culture and you can now book food tours where you will be able to dive into the food of a place nearly everywhere. But how often have you done that in your own city our country?
Use the opportunity to travel more domestically for some time to learn more about the traditional local food of your own country.
Different cities and areas will have their own local specialities. Therefore, find out about the local traditions. You might be surprise how many of your country’s traditional dishes you have never tried before.
You should also check out if there are specific food trails to be discovered in your country. For example, in Germany, there is the (nationally) very famous ‘asparagus route’ which will lead you through one of the asparagus-growing areas with many opportunities to try the vegetable when it is in season from April to June.
Elsewhere, one of the likely most known food trails around the world is the Kentucky Beer and Cheese trail, the Apple Pie Trail in Ontario, Canada or the Camembert Route in Normandy, France.
Visit your country’s national parks
National parks and nature reserves are great destinations to explore. They offer beautiful nature, often interesting indigenous wildlife as well as lots of hiking and other outdoor activities.
Most countries in the world have areas declared as national parks. Many are not as well known as the world famous like Yellowstone National Park, Banff or Jasper National Park, Kruger Park in South Africa or Chiles Torres del Paine National Park.
However, when you go on your country’s official tourist site or your government’s site, you will find several areas in your country declared a National Park or Nature Reserve well worth visiting.
Explore your country’s vineyards and wineries
Though vineyards do not exist everywhere in the world, the wine-growing map has tremendously expanded over the recent decades and you will now find wineries in many countries and regions.
Where there is a winery today, there most likely also is some opportunity to visit, taste the wines and eat either on-site or somewhere close by.
Therefore, check out local wine-growing areas for opportunities to visit. Many countries also have specific wine routes that let you explore wineries, local food and beautiful landscape.
Alternatively, you could also go on a distillery tour (ideal if you live in Scotland, Ireland or the US but there are now many more countries producing excellent spirits).
Enjoy frequent weekend trips
The great thing about travelling domestically is, you do not have huge distances to cover; and in many cases can travel with your own car. Unless you live in the US, Canada or Australia but travelling domestically in these countries post Covid-19 likely means either trips around your own state or going on a road trip, still avoiding air travel.
As a result, you can explore your country on various weekend trips. Pick a nice destination, either a city or a rural area offering small towns or beautiful landscape to discover.
This is a great way to see many different places without having to plan a lot. Instead, take it leisurely and just head to one place. This could even be only a hotel where you can relax, go to the spa and enjoy a nice dinner.
Revisit the places you have been to as a child
I have travelled a lot with my parents when I was a kid. Many of these trips were to other countries. However, I still remember some lovely holidays when we stayed in Germany and there were also many short weekend trips close to home.
I have not been to many (OK, most) of these places for a long time but I would love to re-visit some of them. Although re-creating fond memories can be difficult, re-visiting a place you loved to stay as a kid can be a fantastic experience and it will certainly offer you a completely new understanding of the place.
Do you have a favourite destination or activity travelling around your own country? Let me know.