How to be a traveller close to home
Whether it's an empty wallet, a heavy workload, or a young family tied to the school term that's preventing you from travelling, the situation doesn't have to extinguish your wanderlust.
Follow our tips and tricks to see a familiar world with fresh eyes. From camping trips in the back garden to claiming back the commute, there are myriad ways to experience your home as a traveller would.
Create a bucket list for your area
Imagine you're moving house next month, never to return. Make a list of 30 things you need to do or see before you leave and check something off your list every day. Visit that museum or stately home you've always longed to explore, have a pint in a pub you've never been to, eat in that Michelin-starred restaurant, go to a church service, fly in a hot air balloon...whatever takes your fancy, but just do it.
Get a guidebook
Seriously. Just because you've lived in the same town for 10 years doesn't mean you know all about it. A well-written guidebook will help you discover the background behind famous attractions and reveal hidden gems you've never even heard of. Once you've done the sights you can follow the walking tours, eat your way through the restaurants listed, and drink and dance in every recommended pub and club.
Take a tour
Yes, you'll be exploring familiar streets, but you'll be in the hands of someone who knows every quirky detail about a place you probably take for granted. From open-top bus tours to ghost walks and literary-themed wanders, you'll get to see, and know, your city in a whole new light.
Camp in your own back garden
Pitch your tent, roll out your sleeping bag, and fire up the barbie – in your own back yard. Once you lock the door, unplug and escape to a night under the stars you'll immediately be transported to another world. The kids will love it and you may actually talk to your partner far into the night rather than surf side by side on the sofa. Reconnect with nature a little bit, bring a guide to the night sky and listen to the dawn chorus, all in the knowledge that you can retreat inside after breakfast for a nice hot shower.
Let a dog (or child) take control
It's rare to walk out of your front door without knowing where you're going, but relinquish control for once and - within reason - leave your destination in the hands of your youngest child or even your wiliest dog. If it takes two hours to walk to the corner shop or your route brings you over fences, through streams and across wasteland, all the better; you'll surely end up somewhere you've never been before.
Get up at dawn
Photographers wax lyrical about the "magic hour" – that hour before sunrise when the light is soft and golden, the ground is steaming and the hills seem to glow. And they're right: everything looks different at dawn, so haul your butt out of bed and go see it (after checking the forecast!). Head for a local beauty spot or just go to work really, really early to see even the most mundane location basking in a Hollywood glow.
Enjoy some wild swimming
Take the plunge at a swimming hole near you. Let the mud ooze between your toes and the silky water envelop your body as you lie back and gaze at the trees overhead and the clouds skimming by. Wild swimming is taking the world by storm so there's bound to be a group near you that indulges in some al fresco bathing or can recommend a good spot to go. Needless to say, it's not entirely without risk; do a little research beforehand, find a safe swimming spot and bring a buddy.
Check into a hostel
Pack a rucksack, leave home and check into your nearest hostel. Invent a new you for the duration of your stay. Where are you from and why are you there? Swill beer, play poker, hang out and swap stories from "your travels". Briefly see your home town through travellers' eyes safe in the knowledge that you can retreat in the morning to a haven you won't have to share with strangers.
Take a culinary tour
Tour your town or city guided by your stomach. Visit farmers' markets, delis, bakers, fishmongers, greengrocers and pick-your-own farms assembling the most indulgent picnic ever. Then find the perfect spot to enjoy it.
Experiment with alternating travel
Choose a starting place, ideally in an area you don't know, and take alternate left and right turns until you can go no further. There's excitement in not knowing your destination or even how long it might take to get there, and a wonderful sense of discovery as you explore places you'd never have planned to visit. Alternatively, you could just flip a coin at every junction. Either way, you're guaranteed to experience something new.
Claim back your commute
Claim back that lost time on your commute to work by swapping the daily grind for some alternative action. Can you walk, run or cycle to work instead? Could you kayak there? Don't discount it straight away, study a map and really look for a way to approach the journey in a completely different way. Yeah, you may have to get up a lot earlier but there's a chance of a mini adventure along the way.
Have a cash-free day
Leave your wallet at home and plan a day without dosh. Pack a picnic, walk out the door and just see how far you can get without spending a penny. From parks, museums, galleries and churches to scenic walks and river wanders, you'll soon realise that good days out needn't cost the earth. Take the kids along and revel in the joys of giant muddy puddles, easy-to-climb trees and wide open spaces. Once they understand the concept, the endless calls for treats will simply fade away.
Travel A to Z
Create a bumper list of villages in your area covering every letter from A to Z and work your way through it over a series of weekends. Alternatively, find a city map, mark the first and last places in the index, draw a line between the two and follow it across the city on foot or by bike. Who knows what you'll discover.
Take a thematic trip
Scour a map, pore over a guidebook and plot a route to visit all the stately homes, national parks, Gothic churches or Brutalist tower blocks in your area. From literary connections to Tube stations or pubs sharing the same name, it may well be a tenuous link but it's a grand excuse to explore.
Let the kids take control
How often do you really let the kids plan your day? Let the little ones decide where to go, what to do and how to get there. Let them loose online to research the best day out and before you know it you'll be heading off on a heritage railway to an enchanted castle, flying down zip wires, scaling the tallest trees in the forest and eating gallons of ice cream.
Put your boots on
Slow down and see the world on foot and you'll discover back lanes and scenic spots you never knew existed. If you've got a long-distance walking trail nearby, break it into sections and do a bit each weekend until you've covered it all. Follow a towpath well beyond your normal limits, take to the hills or catch a bus to the city limits and simply wander home on foot.
Take to the water
If you live anywhere near a river, a canal, a lake or the sea it's time to dip your toes in the water rather than just walking along the shore. Hire a narrow boat, a canoe, a sea kayak or a paddle board and you'll see familiar areas from a whole new perspective. Bring friends or family, pack a picnic and you're all set for an adventure.