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Squeaky Beach. Wilsons Promontory National Park. Victoria, Australia.

Recently, I was talking to someone about travel. We were chatting about how so many people rush overseas without first looking at their own country. Travel bloggers are particularly bad at writing about overseas destinations and all the quirks of foreign travel rather than acknowledging the influence of their own backyard. In fact I know several who rushed off overseas before even considering leaving their own state.

I am no different, really. I write about aspects of overseas travel, ignoring facets of my home country and it’s idiosyncrasies that make it as a nation stand out, for better or worse, when we travel.

So with that in mind, I will attempt to relay some of the benefits of staying local.

Local knowledge

Local travel is beneficial beyond belief. Being able to explain your own country to others by experience is paramount. For example, as an Australian I want to be able to sell my country as more than the place Foster’s came from but nobody drinks or where Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray.

So many people rush away overseas before even exploring the place they call home. The thought of having a conversation about places I haven’t even been in my own country is about as comfortable as drinking a warm, flat beer.

“Oh you’re so lucky to be Australian. The Great Barrier Reef is amazing don’t you think?”

“I’m sure it is. I saw a good picture once.”

Mt. Feathertop. Victoria, Australia.

Mt. Feathertop. Victoria, Australia.

“So you’ve never been?”

“Ah, no…”

“What about Ayres Rock?”

“Well, a cousin of mine went there once…”

“Bondi Beach?”

“That’s the beach where the tourists drown, yeah?”

“Have I seen more of your country than you?”

“Hmm, how about this weather…”

Cost

Travelling to Southeast Asia seems relatively cheap. But when you do the sums, the dollars start to add up. Taking into account elements such as flights, accommodation, tours and visas, it doesn’t matter how cheap the beers and cocktails are. You’re still paying through the nose. I mean, sure, $1.50 beers sound like a treat but if you have thirty of them, the hangover remains the same no matter what continent you’re on.

Barmah Lakes. Victoria, Australia.

Barmah Lakes. Victoria, Australia.

If you stay in your home country to holiday though, you can save some serious coin.

From where I live in Australia, I can get to the Murray River in one hour. I know how to get there and the best places to go. I can load up my camping gear and use one of the many free camping sites and not spend a dime. If I want comfort instead, I can call up some accommodation on my mobile and not be stressed about receiving a $20,000 phone bill due to international data roaming gouging my wallet to within an inch of my sanity. (A quick Google search shows that last year an Australian tourist received a phone bill of $541,000 after travelling overseas and forgetting to turn this feature off. That’s 120,222 beers or, for you non-drinkers, 77,841 pizzas had the person stayed in Australia. Just saying.)

No expensive flights. No taxi rides. No ATM fees. No street hustlers trying to scam you or sell you family members (this has happened).

Cha-ching!

Time and ease

Deciding to go for a jaunt down the coast is easy. Generally, you only need a few days and you can enjoy an escape without hassles. This is simple compared to some aspects of overseas travel.

“I need a break. I’m going to go away for a few days. See you on Monday.” How easy is that?

Now here’s the overseas version.

“I need a break… How much do the flights cost? What dates work? I could go away in a couple of months I suppose… Imagine how tired I’ll be then… Is it peak season then though? Maybe I should wait… I have a little bit saved up… Is that enough? What is the visa situation? Who will feed the dog? Could I sell the dog to help pay for the ticket? It will be cheaper if I don’t take my girlfriend…

It’s easier to stay at work.

Familiarity

Walking into an Australian pub, you will usually be met with by an older bloke behind the bar, probably named Doug, and at least two bar flies whose nicknames will be either be Dogga or Robbo. If the place doesn’t have race gambling facilities it will have Pokies (slot machines) instead. The soothing tones of coins being fed into machines or the mesmerising sound of the race caller remind you that you are still very much at home. A quick check of the juke box in the corner will reveal the most played tracks are Kenny Roger’s ‘The Gambler’ or any Cold Chisel song ever written.

Without question, this could be a description of any pub/bar/bistro across Australia. And I love it. Knowing that wherever you travel throughout this vast country you will find something this familiar is grounds enough to stay local. Even though it is the same everywhere, it still feels like an adventure. Guaranteed you will describe at least one drinking hole to your friends as a “Classic Aussie pub”, neglecting to mention that it is exactly the same as the one down the road from your house. Maybe it’s the safety of being able to have the chicken and not worrying about getting the trots for the rest of your trip. I’m not saying you can’t get food poisoning traveling local, but I will happily order the chicken breast here based purely on refrigeration and butchering standards. When Gastrostop becomes a viable meal option because you have watched butchered chicken meat stored uncovered, below a table in a hot, Asian alleyway, your ability to order said meat is slightly compromised. At least you don’t have to worry about negotiating the squat toilet at home, I suppose.

Familiarity is safe, though. I’ve been to bars across Asia where wasn’t sure if the barperson was male or female, the music was limited to Bob Marley’s greatest hits, the beers were warm and I’m pretty sure I was just drinking at their house. Doug seems like a safer bet.

Bithery Inlet. Tanja, New South Wales.

Bithry Inlet. Tanja, New South Wales.

Local travel will not stop you from having an adventure, limit the amount of fun you can have or be less meaningful. The idea that overseas trips are the be-all and end-all is just not true. The fact is that more people will travel locally more often than any international trip. I managed to travel the majority of Australia before I even set foot on foreign soil and I think that it is an underrated experience. Just because there is no new stamp in your passport doesn’t mean your trip means less.

Wayward Tip: travel your own country. It might seem like an anticlimax compared to going overseas but at least you can use as many slang terms as you want when speaking to people and they still know what you’re talking about. Priceless.

Article featured on news site crowdink.com as “Aussies should travel Australia this summer

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