Local, for those who don’t know, is travel jargon – eat local (locavore), sleep local, do like the locals – but it’s also the travel industry’s biggest buzzword.
Local travel comes attached to the idea of more self-awareness and consideration when travelling, and the desire to spend your well earned money with the little guy, rather than with the Starbucks of this world.
The local travel movement defines local as a chance to get under a place’s skin, and let it under yours, while saving money by spending locally.
Photograph: Visit the historical stock exchange in Barberton, Mpumalanga
But there are two ideas of local travel.
One school of thought says that you travel local when you use tour operators local to the country or city you travel to. In this way you get a bird’s eye view, or ‘get under the skin’ of a place.
The other view holds that instead of getting on an aeroplane and jetting miles to another part of the world that you simply cross the near invisible province border to another part of the country in which you live.
I’m in favour of the latter type of local travel. And here’s why:
ONE: IT’S CHEAPER
Do you need another reason? Cutting out the cost of an airfare will save you enough to warrant the odd ‘splurge’ when it comes to your accommodation in South Africa. And there is no exchange rate to contend with (let’s face it there are not many places left in the world where the Rand compares favourably).
TWO: MORE THAN ONE FOR THE SAME PRICE
The cheaper aspect also translates into a number of mini holidays, rather than one big, expensive annual ‘trip’ that suffers from the pressure of the ‘trip of a lifetime’ syndrome and never quite lives up to expectations.
THREE: IT’S FAMILIAR
No new language, no culture shock, no nasty food experiences. Travelling in your own country means you know exactly how it all works, but you get to experience a totally new part of the country that adds to your version of ‘home’.
FOUR: YOU DON’T HAVE TO RENEW YOUR PASSPORT
A lot less planning needs to go into a local holiday – no visas, no passport control, no change of currency. And nobody minds if your passport is out of date.
FIVE: NO JET LAG
If you’ve ever suffered the effects of crossing several time zones twice within the space of a couple of weeks (the average overseas holiday), then you will know that this is a major plus.
SIX: YOU BOOST THE LOCAL ECONOMY
By spending more of your money at home, you’re increasing the flow of revenue in your own country and boosting local business. By then also electing to spend money with smaller, family-owned operations you’re helping build awareness of the local culture.
SEVEN: YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO FAR
Going on long distance holidays means saving your annual leave, possibly taking unpaid leave and manoevering around children’s holidays etc. But to have a break in your own country can be as simple as three hours’ travel in a car. You could do it over a weekend.
EIGHT: IT’S REALLY SIMPLE
Pack the boot, book a destination accommodation venue, and go. It can be as spontaneous as deciding to leave a couple of days before you do.
NINE: YOU CAN HAVE COMPANY
Travelling local means you can take friends and family along, which makes for a more relaxed experience all round – your children have company and so do you. If you’re single, the trip becomes a whole lot more fun, and cheaper, with your friends along.
TEN: IT CHANGES YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Seeing the country through the eyes of other people always offers a fresh perspective on life.
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