Travelling in Your Hometown

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that it’s been a bit of time since I last wrote an entry.  I’ll be honest, this isn’t how I intend the blog to continue and I do feel badly that this has been the routine over the last month – non-existence.

However, sometimes life gets in the way of travelling.  Sometimes you visit friends expecting a baby, you return to your home country (go Canada!), your mom retires (after 39 years of teaching!), you go to your best friend’s wedding, you meet your new (and first!) niece, you …and life just gets in the way of travelling.

my beautiful hometown Orillia

Or does it?

The thing I’ve realized over my little one month hiatus is that there shouldn’t have been a hiatus at all.  Not just because I should have been blogging (let’s be honest…you should always make time for writing and blogging) but because you should always be in the mindset of an experiential traveller. 

My first big trip overseas was a 9-month school/internship experience in Ghana when I was 22.  This was pre-digital cameras so I didn’t see any of my photos until I returned home to Canada and physically printed them out.  I was mad at myself to discover that the 12 rolls of film I took were predominantly loaded with the trips I took while in Ghana.  That is, instead of having pictures of my every day life – the people I met, the houses where I lived, the friends I made – my photos were inundated with where I travelled to on weekends or Christmas vacation.

When something becomes too familiar, we stop appreciating it for its experiential potential.

My hometown is just my hometown — I don’t take pictures of things, I don’t write about it…it becomes so familiar.  It’s on 3 weeks, has the quaintest little shops and cafes, and is visited as a major tourist destination for many throughout Ontario’s beautiful summer. 

Here’s how to “travel” in the most familiar places to you…

Reflect on the cultural adjustment.  I have been living in Dubai, one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.  Orillia, in contrast, is 30,000 people with a very small town feel.  Rather than simply going through my day to day life here, I need to embrace the cultural adjustment for what it is – reflect, write, enjoy.

Crossroads at Front St. and Church Street, of my favourite places in my former home.
Crossroads at Front St. and Church Street, Toronto…one of my favourite places in my former home.

2) Get outside everyday.  Practice yoga on a deck (like me).  Wander through the downtown (even if it’s one street, like Orillia).  Search for nature like you would in a new city.

3) Find ways to be a “part” of the culture.  Whether it’s the weekend Scottish Festival or joining an exercise class…be a part of the community.  By meeting new people who live here, you’ll find out the new culture of your old community.  TIP: like exercise? look for free gym trials.  I just signed myself up for a 14 day gym trial which is an amazing opportunity to meet locals, get out into the community, and exercise!

4) Go out of your nostalgic comfort zone.  When I was in high school, I wasn’t drinking wine on patios or writing in little cafes.  Don’t just visit what is familiar – find the new and unexpected.  Adjust, adapt and, in the process, discover your “adult” or “new” version of your old stompin’ grounds.

5) Force yourself to write and take pictures.  I have been doing this poorly of late, but enough is enough.  Write about your new experiences.  Take pictures.  Forcing yourself to really reflect will help you see what is new about the community…what has changed or how your own perception of things has changed.  Instead of simply thinking about what’s been memorable to you, find new things to view and reflect upon.

exploring Toronto Island on Canada Day...why do we rarely take time to explore the city in which we live as if we are tourists?!
exploring Toronto Island on Canada Day…why do we rarely take time to explore the city in which we live as if we are tourists?!

6) Create a new experience.  I haven’t once been to Brewery Bay and I’ve been in Orillia for over a week.  I can’t possible explain to you how horrific this fact once seemed.  Brewery Bay is THE bar, THE restaurant, THE place to frequent in Orillia.  It’s where we went Friday nights.  It’s where we came back when we went off to university and just wanted to go out and see people from high school.  It’s where we had my high school grad. lunch.  But I’m not in high school anymore…I need to create a new experience with the new pubs, new cafes, new places.

I have a very special place in my heart for my hometown, Orillia.  Simply seeing “Orillia” in writing brings a flood of nostalgia and loving feelings.  But there’s a new Orillia – an Orillia with beauty I never appreciated, cafes I never visited, wine I never drank…

When life gets in the way of travel…realize that you can travel everywhere!

Happy travelling…even in your hometown!



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