When I decided to leave my executive job last year, I had to make a lot of personal budget cuts so I could self-fund my company.
These constraints forced me to be more creative and scrappy. “Vacations” used to mean trips far from here. I would use this time to travel to Vietnam, Burma, England, the East Coast, the mid-West or at least California. I now “vacation” by reconnecting with friends who live 10, 20, at most 40 miles away.
Through these trips, I’ve deepened my appreciation for the natural beauty of local parks and waterfronts, as well as for the familiarity of long-time friendships.
I’ve put together a list of easy, low-cost hyperlocal travel tips, including guest-room hopping (i.e., upscale couch surfing). I hope they help you both rest and reconnect with yourself and with your friends.
- Don’t over schedule/overbook
My natural impulse is to try to do and see as many things with as many people as possible. I constantly have to remind myself that running to meet back-to-back visits is stressful. Also, leaving open space on my schedule allows for spontaneous activities. Recently, I went on a walk with a friend and then she asked me if I was available for dinner that night. And I was free!
- Housesit for friends
I recently house sat for a friend in her charming Columbia City home. It was a great way to change scenery for me, and I used it as an opportunity to visit with many of my friends in the area. She thought I was doing her a favor by watering her plants on a daily basis but I really felt like she was doing me the favor.
- Invite yourself over for a meal or coffee
I contact friends who live in the area where I’ll be vacationing and I invite myself over. People often thank me for initiating and breaking us out of the cycle of saying, “we should get together sometime.” For more, read my essay on “Being a bit rude can deepen relationships.”
- Local sleepovers and guest room surfing
My friend and website designer, Stacy Nguyen, and I have an annual summertime tradition of me coming over for a sleepover at her place in Lynnwood. I have since added more cities on this “Northern tour” of Washington by visiting friends in Edmonds and Marysville. I also do a 5-day long West Seattle trip so I can easily visit my friends out there. Fortunately, many of my friends have guest rooms, so I don’t have to couch surf. Bonus: Sleepovers allow for late night conversations.
- Take walks
I often suggest going for walks at local parks with friends whose neighborhood I’m visiting. It’s a free and healthy alternative to Happy Hour. I just discovered how delightful the illustrated Seattle Walk Report guides are.
My hyperlocal vacations usually involve me asking for friends to pick me up or drop me off at the bus stop or at another friends’ place, to plan a meal, to host me. These are not just people I’m visiting, they are helping make my vacation possible.
Let me know which tips you found helpful! And please share with me your own tips.