Australia is a long way from the rest of the world. Visiting other countries requires time; flying (or boating) across large expanses of ocean, and (for me, anyway) many months of hard work and strict saving; no drinking, no eating out, no fun. The one-way, two-stop flight from Melbourne to London takes approximately 21 hours, not including time spent in transit. The flight from Adelaide to Buenos Aires takes an hour longer, and requires up to five stops in five different airports (yuck). From Sydney to New York, it’s 20 hours across fifteen different time zones. Did someone say jet-lag?
I’m very fortunate to have had many opportunities to travel overseas. I’ve seen many parts of our amazing world, and have met all sorts of amazing people along the way. Many of the people I meet have travelled to Australia, and are eager to discuss their experiences with the rarity of a travelling Australian (note my sarcasm – the diaspora of travelling Australians is so large that I’m often left wondering whether there are any left in the country). I’m constantly embarrassed because these travellers have usually seen much more of Australia than I have, and I’ve lived here for all of my life. “Isn’t the West Coast stunning?” “Haven’t been.” “Hobart’s a pretty cool city!” “So I’ve been told.” “Wasn’t too sure about Canberra though.” “Yeah, I’ve heard it’s a shit hole.” It makes me sad to realise that I’ve seen only a very small portion of what is no doubt one of the world’s most beautiful countries (all bias aside).
So here’s to embracing the art of travelling local. ‘Travel’ simply means ‘to make a journey’; who’s to say that a short journey is any less valuable than a long one? Travelling local has all the same benefits of travelling far: you meet new people, see new things, and gain new experiences – in other words, all the things that make someone ‘wordly’. But what local travel provides that long-distance travel doesn’t, is an opportunity to learn new things about the place you come from; the place you thought you knew like the back of your hand. The places you’ve seen, but haven’t seen.
Recently, I spent eight days on the coast just a four hour drive south of my suburban home (by Australian driving standards, four hours is a very modest distance). Those eight days felt like months. Despite my close proximity to home, I could not have been further away. I saw some of the most stunning beaches I’ve seen in my life, and they were right on my doorstep all along. I returned home rested and ready to take on the New Year. This holiday mode has lingered; I continue to reap the wonderful benefits of travel and adventure…and a suntan to boot!
My point isn’t to brag about the beautiful country in which I live (although I’m not completely opposed to bragging – Australia really is beautiful). My point is to encourage you to travel local, and to explore the places close to home that you’re yet to see. You may be surprised. After all, people travel from all corners of the globe to visit your country, so why shouldn’t you travel it too?
Now, there’s a whole lot more of Australia for me to see, that’s for sure. And the best bit? No visa required!
Happy trails, friends!