Is Backpacking Just About Travelling The World?

In all our travels around the world and our quest to discover new countries and all the amazing sights, sounds and experiences more exotic destinations have to offer, we can often forget that there are just as many awesome destinations and attractions in our own backyard with a staycation. Yet in our excitement to see the far away destinations how much of our own country do we leave unseen and undiscovered?

When people think of travel or taking a gap year, they generally think of tropical beaches in south east Asia, dancing in carnivals in Rio De Janeiro or uncovering fascinating cultures and cuisines in India or China.

But travel is much more than that.

Travel is simply about exploring somewhere new, and you don’t always have to travel half way around the world to do that. Sometimes there is so much to see and discover in your own backyard too.

My own country of England and the United Kingdom in general has had a magnificent run of world class cultural and sporting events over the last 18 months, and I have been lucky to be able to see and experience some of it. With the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, the Royal wedding and the Diamond Jubilee just for starters, England has been a non stop celebration over 2012 and 2013, and the Visit Britain campaign has been in full swing, promoting our rich natural history and heritage.

But it isn’t just the national celebrations and spectacular events. The UK has some of the most spectacular scenery, a ton of award winning beaches and amazing coastlines in the world, but a lot of it is understated, hidden away. National parks like the Lake District and the South Downs are consistently named as some of the best in the world, the coastlines and beaches of Wales and Cornwall are always on top 10 lists of world beaches. The UK’s national heritage is second to none, and it is filled with everything from traditional seaside towns and museums to ancient castle ruins and spectacular cathedrals. All of these reasons have led to a huge rise in people choosing to stay at home for their holidays instead.

Gavin and Stacey Filming Locations Barry Island Whitmore Bay Beach

I don’t just mean people taking that annoyingly persistent part of the new travel lexicon,  – the staycation – the term that some braniac at an advertising firm thought of, I mean actually having a real adventure discovering some of the best towns and cities, history and heritage and attractions your own country has to offer. It doesn’t matter whether it is a day out, a weekend away or weeks at a time, it is all about seeing what is right under your nose.

Discover Your Own Back Yard Through Travel.

Economically this makes sense. Not everyone can afford to take the time or has the immediate funds to go on extended backpacking trips around the world at the moment. The last decade has seen more upheaval and uncertainty in society than many decades before, and this isn’t helped by the constantly mind boggling flight prices pushed up by rising fuel costs and ridiculously punitive taxes.

When you have little money to spare, taking advantage of the local tourist attractions instead of taking a short holiday or snap year in another country seems increasingly attractive. 

London Horse Guard Changing of the guard

Of course it isn’t as easy as that in Western society. Britain is still one of the most expensive countries in the world, with extremely high accommodation, transport and general costs, and Europe isn’t that far behind.

It has been a long held truth in the UK that it is actually often considerably cheaper to fly abroad than it is to have a day out!

A recent day trip to a local zoo cost close to £100 GBP with transport, admission fees, food and everything else! I could have a week at least in Thailand for that! Minus the cost of getting there of course. The same is true for any Western developed country, Europe, the USA, Australia, wherever you are from it is hard to deny that we live in expensive countries. That is one of the reasons backpacking to places like South East Asia, Africa or South and Central America has been so attractive to many of us for a long time.

But by travelling for short weekends or weeks away in your own country – especially in an area relatively local to you – or by having a string of days out near our own home and taking advantage of free or cheap attractions such as museums or world heritage sites, you can save a lot of money too, especially when you consider you haven’t forked out for flights, insurance and everything else associated with backpacking. This is a really good option if you can’t afford the whole lump sum payout of getting to your backpacking destination or you want to satiate your travel desire slightly whilst you are saving up.

Enjoying Your Own Back Yard.

But it isn’t all about money either, it is about enjoying the country you live in as a backpacking destination as much as the places you visit on your wild and varied travels. How many times have we all arrived in a place, usually a stunning tropical beach or a nice, laid back town and though ‘it would be really nice to stay and live here’? If you’re anything like me it will be a lot, but guess what? People have probably thought that about your own country too, and guess what again? You already live there!

The UK has some amazing places to see and visit that are often overlooked by people who live here, after all so many tourists come here every year to see the sights that are essentially just a short bus or train ride away for us. The same is true for whatever country you happen to live in. Australia, America, Europe, how many of your local or semi local attractions have you seen or taken advantage of as you dream of flying off to somewhere exotic? As someone who is very proud of the fact I have travelled to so many amazing countries, I am almost slightly embarrassed to admit there are still a few significant places in my own country I have yet to see.

There are so many wonderful and amazing attractions and experiences within easy reach, it is so easy to overlook them as you dream of those exotic far flung destinations. Of course backpacking the world will always have its obvious attractions and benefits, and of course I will never stop my quest to discover new locations and different cultures, but it is also nice to take a little time out once in a while to explore my own back yard too.

Ethical zoos responsible tourism Michael Huxley
“It was THIS big! Honest!”

So if you have the urge to go travelling or backpacking, but don’t quite have the time or the money to do so at the moment, or maybe you are saving up for your big gap year adventure and just want to do a little travelling to sate your wanderlust, then exploring the sights and attractions of your local area may be just the answer you are looking for.

Grab a guide book for your own country and look at the top 10 or 20 things to see and do, how many of them have you actually seen and done? What’s stopping you?

Get a train or a cheap coach ticket to a town or city close to you that you have never visited before and book yourself into a cheap place to stay, see the glorious United Kingdom through a tourists eyes. It is much easier for you to jump in a car or get a train than it is for a tourist to fly half the way around the world. So if they can take the time and effort to see it, why can’t you?

Did you enjoy this article? Have you ever taken a staycation? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

40 Of The Best Days Out In The UK.

15 Awesome Things To See And Do On A Newcastle Upon Tyne Staycation.

A 48 Hour City Break In Manchester, England.

A Great British Seaside Holiday In Southport, England.

Fall In Love With Liverpool On A 48 Hour City Break.

Going Back In Time At Blists Hill Victorian Town, Shropshire.

The Best UK Staycation Ideas For An Ideal Summer Break.

The Ultimate Guide To Hiking The Hadrian’s Wall Path, England.

Visiting Time At Shrewsbury Prison.

Why You Should Make Shropshire Your Next Staycation Destination.

Why Zoos Are An Important Part Of Responsible Wildlife Tourism.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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7 comments on “Is Backpacking Just About Travelling The World?
  1. Steph Lathom says:

    Definitely agree that there is so much to see and do here in England, but whenever I think of a holiday I automatically think of somewhere abroad. The prices in England tend to put a lot of people off I think.

    • That is definitely a factor in the UK, I have had many occasions where a train ticket to London was as expensive as a flight to Europe or even Asia in some cases. The curse of living in a ridiculously expensive country I suppose.

  2. AWESOME post and you are so right about having amazing attractions/experiences close to home, yet not taking advantage of them. I would ask myself “why do people come from all around the world to visit Chicago?” That was until I spent some time exploring my own backyard! Now I know!

    Great post.

  3. 2girlsandabikini says:

    I totally agree. It’s so easy to miss all of the amazing things to see/do right in your own city. Especially when you always have your sights set on destinations such as the UK. But I also recently spent some time exploring my own backyard (Chicago) and now I know what all the fuss is about!

    Great Post!

  4. Shikha says:

    Completely agree! Recently done a couple of trips to Norfolk, Malvern etc & they are really beautiful areas but like you & others have said, if I’m looking for anything more than a wknd break, a UK staycation inevitably ends up costing more!

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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