I love to travel and my wife and I do quite a bit in our travel trailer as we write the StressLess Camping RV Blog and record the StressLess Camping RV podcast. But there’s nothing more frustrating than asking someone a question about the area and you can tell they have absolutely no idea what the answer is.
They haven’t been a tourist in their own neighborhood.
Years ago, I was driving around with a friend in LA and saw the Watts Towers. I asked that friend when the last time was that he was there was and he had never been, despite having lived in LA his whole life to that point. Wow.
Lots and lots of people spend lots and lots of money and time traveling to the far corners of this planet to eat in restaurants they haven’t eaten in before and shop in stores they haven’t shopped in before. But the funny thing is, there are lots of restaurants and stores they’ve never stepped foot in in the past right in their own communities.
Ironically there may be people who travel to your community looking for new restaurants and shops and experiences because they’ve heard that you live somewhere special and they’ve planned their vacation around visiting your community. And then they get to your shop and ask what’s the best place to dine or ask about golf or shopping or whatever it is and you and your team have no concept of what to tell them.
This week I’d like to advocate shopping, dining and visiting your own community. We have a friend who does this - they go on vacation without ever leaving their community. They will stay at a local hotel, eat in local restaurants and visit local attractions.
If times are tight, they’ll even skip the hotel and do all the things they would do on vacation without leaving their community.
They shop in the local stores and walk around the community. The funny thing is - they’re doing what others do who have traveled from faraway places to see their community.
Oh, wait. You’re saying there’s nothing to do in your community? Interesting.
I live in a small rural community in Northern California. Our towns are small and our shops are local and a lot of people who live in those very towns denigrate those same places they’ve chosen to live. Are you scratching your head as well?
They wonder why people travel from any distance to see incredible natural geology, breathe the cleanest air in California and drive on streets that are so uncrowded that the locals get angry when ducks cause a traffic jam.
As many of you know I used to own a resort in this community made of vintage railroad cabooses and I have spoken to people who had no idea this was even there. Yet people from Europe and Asia traveled halfway across the globe to stay there.
You’d be amazed what’s in your own community. Give it a try.
And shopping and playing within your own community also helps the local economy. Instead of sending money to a billionaire who couldn’t find you on a map, buying from the local merchant further allows them to support local charities, local organizations and their family. They then buy gas at the local filling station and groceries in the same market as you. And everybody does a little better as well.
Perhaps their store gets a fresh coat of paint or some new planters out front. When more people shop there instead of on line they might give the employees a raise, or even hire on additional staff. That’s good for the community too!
When tourists come to the community you live in and ask you a question, instead of a blank stare, you now can be a wealth of local information. And that means they like the place you work better as well because you were helpful. In fact they might be so impressed with how helpful you were, they tell their friends when they go back and those friends want to come and visit your community.
Oh, wait. Isn’t everybody connected nowadays anyway? Surprisingly, no.
On a recent travel I did something dumb enough that it required a visit to a pharmacy. Don’t ask. But I checked my phone and it told me there was no local pharmacy. So I asked a local and he told me about a great local pharmacy. And it was great - the advice was spot on and the place was wonderful.
If this local guide, who was just a man on the street, hadn’t been so informed I would have packed up my trailer and left the community altogether to go to the distant pharmacy. Instead, I stayed and spent more money in that community because, well, the dumb thing I did got resolved there.
Yes. That pharmacy should also own their Google Business listing as well.
So next time it’s time to eat or visit or just goof off, try something within your own community that you haven’t tried before. You might change your mind from wondering why someone would come there to wondering why they wouldn’t.
Need more? Here's another great article about shopping locally.