Should I Stay or Should I Go?

‘Staycation’ – what is it and why should you consider one? defines a Staycation as “a vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions”. 

Is being a ‘tourist’ in the city you live a bad thing?  People come to your city every day to visit, so why is it ok for them to be tourists and go see the sights but you can’t?

Why not find a cheap hotel in the city (or even a luxury one and treat yourself) and see the place you live with new eyes. You don’t even have to spend the money on a hotel, though it does add to the fun. Go on the tourist trap observation wheels, get on a hop on hop off bus or go visit the museum just for the sake of it. Don’t think about the fact that the building you work is just down the road, but think about the things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the chance.

When I first went to London I was surprised to hear that so many people who live there haven’t been to St Paul’s Cathedral. This kind of astounded me. I mean, it’s isn’t hard to miss!! People walk past it every day on their way to work but they don’t stop and smell the roses, so to speak. I had the same experience in New York City, when every night I was there I would take a photo of the lit up Empire State Building. People who lived there said, they didn’t even look.

Being a tourist/visitor allows you the luxury of time. You have time to duck into that out of the way bookstore that people say you must visit and spend hours perusing the shelves. You have planned to go to the ‘must see’ attraction and know what time to beat the crowds because you’ve done the research. I appreciate that we are all busy with ‘our lives’ when we are at home but that doesn’t mean you can’t make time to get out and explore your own city.

I live in Brisbane, Australia which has the Brisbane river running through the middle of it – like many cities around the world do. I know people who have lived in Brisbane their whole lives and have only ventured to the other side the river a handful of times. If I were to stay on ‘my side of the river’ then I would never experience Southbank and take in the festivals that have all the time. I would never visit any of the museums or go and see comedians and concerts at the Convention Centre.

One of my favourite things to do in the city is to go on the City Cat ferries.  They are pretty cheap and take about an hour and half to go from St Lucia in the west to Hamilton/Portside close to the mouth of the river. Plus, you can get off at any of the stops inbetween like New Farm Park, which is a great place to relax on the huge lawn or catch an exhibit or bite to eat at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The other really awesome thing about these ferries is that there is a free one!!  The cute little red City Hopper does a smaller loop in the CBD but is great to catch – even that takes a good 45 minutes for a one way trip. I will often grab my camera and jump on a bus or train and go somewhere just because.

We are forever planning our next big trip (me included) but we forget there are great things to do in our own backyard.

I don’t understand the stigma about being a tourist in your own city, or hometown. I moved to Brisbane from Christchurch, New Zealand in about 2002. I have been back to Christchurch numerous times over the years and every time I go back I take hundreds of photos of the city. People would laugh at me and ask why I would take photos of a place I grew up. Well that question was answered in September 2010 and February 2011 when earthquakes tore through my hometown. Now about 80% of the CBD has been demolished and whole suburbs have been razed to the ground, my childhood home is now nothing but overgrown grass and weeds. Buildings that I grew up with are no longer anything but memories, some of which I went to a lot over the years including the Central Library. People don’t ask me why I take so many photos anymore.

My point is, you don’t have to go to some fancy destination to be a tourist you can do that easily for the price of a bus trip from you own home to the city you live in. Ask yourself “why do people come and visit this place?”. You might be surprised by the answer and in the end you might learn something about the place you live that you never knew before.

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