5 Reasons You Need to Become a Tourist in Your Own City
I love traveling to new countries and experiencing new cultures. Fortunately, I've had the chance to travel for many years for study exchanges, internships, and now as an experience leader with Under30Experiences.
But something happened when I came back home last year after spending a year in Los Angeles: I felt the urge to explore and know more about my hometown, Lyon, France.
As I started exploring in my own backyard, I realized how much there was to learn about my own city. Further, I learned the importance of truly understanding my own country and culture and how it better prepared me to understand other countries and cultures.
So, here are my top 5 reasons why you should explore more your own city or country...
1. You’ll Get New Eyes
Whether you want to explore more your own city or travel in your home country, it will push you taking roads and corners you’ve never taken before. Getting lost in streets you’ve never been to and seeing new and beautiful things you never realized were there make you see your city in a new light.
While exploring more the city of Lyon, I visited neighborhoods I was not used to traveling to and I took pictures as if I was a tourist in my own city. I would raise my head and open my eyes just to appreciate the magnificence of the beautiful Renaissance buildings that surrounded me.
So why don’t we feel the urge to explore and visit our own city or country?
Well, because we are so absorbed by our daily routine that we become blind and don’t pay attention to the little details that are right in front of our eyes.
Sometimes beauty is right in front of us and we don’t even pay attention to it.
2. You’ll Learn About Your City's History And Heritage
You’ve been driving, taking the bus and have passed by this building, church, or statue thousands of times...
But do you know the name of it or the story behind it?
Take the time to learn about the history and secrets of your city! This can range from reading a book about the founders of your city, or going to museums, exhibits and tours.
By exploring your own city's history, you will get a better understanding of its heritage and be able to bring this with you while traveling abroad and share it with the people you meet.
While scouting Burgundy, I was surprised by all the things I learned about the history of the region, the wine, and gastronomy.
3. Meet New People
Have you ever played the game, “Talking to Strangers”?
The rule is simple: you have to engage a conversation with a complete stranger somewhere while exploring your own city. Okay, this might sound a little bit weird to just talk to someone randomly but believe me, you’ll be surprised by how interesting some conversations can be and how they can have a big impact on you!
One of the best places to play that game is in coffee shops because people tend to be more relaxed. That’s how I met a Chinese student doing a semester at the University of Lyon giving me her impressions about the city, and the American tourists from Seattle visiting and asking me where they could find good French pastries.
Some conversations can be short, others can be longer. What matters is to meet new and different people in your own city; whether they are locals or tourists.
4. Go To the Top
After walking and exploring the streets of your city, it is time to experience the top of it!
Go to the top of the highest building or to a viewpoint at the highest level to get a panoramic view of your city. Then, for a completely different experience, do it again at night!
My favorite spot in Lyon is on the top of a hill where you can see the whole city but also the Alps and the Mont Blanc (the highest mountain in Europe).
I also found this space to be one of the quietest places in all of Lyon. A perfect getaway after a busy or stressful day.
5. You’ll Feel Refreshed!
No more boredom!
Exploring your own city can be very refreshing since you will see new things and get a completely different perspective about the place you live. You just need to remind yourself that you can find beautiful things right where you are.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to travel to other countries...but traveling in your city will change your entire perception of your home and everything will look new when you're done.
I wouldn’t have imagined traveling and exploring more of my own city was going to be such a great experience but it made me realize how beautiful it is and how much I want to share all this beauty and history with people coming to visit my home. Not to mention all the new information I have to share about my city when I travel abroad...
Keep exploring. Keep learning. Stay curious.
And whether you are exploring your own city or visiting a new country, keep discovering.
P.S. Want to come explore the world with me? Check out our awesome trips!