To continue the discussion of travelling around your own backyard, I‘ve gathered some steps that me be helpful in getting you out there. It seems to me that the best way to start exploring in your local area is by deciding on a distance you are willing to travel (20 miles, 80 miles, etc). Then, draw a circle out from your own backyard using a protractor and map, or go online to a website like Free Map Tools (see instructions at end of blog) and let them plot it for you. This will show a more limited range of places to travel, and perhaps help to narrow the decision and increase the chance of making it happen. Hopefully you will also realize how much is actually around you.
The next step is to study the area within the boundary created, and look for points of interest, such as cultural or historical sights, interesting restaurants, hiking and biking trails, nature preserves and mountains, bodies of water like lakes, rivers or the ocean, and so on. Look for items that interest you personally. Write down, or type into your smart phone, computer, iPhone, etc, everything that catches your eye or your interest even if it seems like a silly idea. Then add anything that may have already been on your “must do” list. As you are searching on the internet, gather the pertinent information at the same time: websites/addresses/phones, opening times, admission fees (note any discounts and coupons), events, directions (though MapQuest may assist at any time). This is the age of technology – make it work for you – bookmark ideas, make calendar events in Outlook, and so forth.
Another option is to contact your local tourism office. The Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory is “a guide to official tourist information sources: government tourism offices, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, and similar organizations that provide free, accurate, and unbiased travel information to the public.” I actually hadn’t done this myself until writing the Blog, so I made contact with my local office through the TOWD website, and will stop by to pick up brochures on local activities, businesses and happenings. They also said there are coupons for discounts off activities from the theater to dining; another benefit of contacting them! If you cannot take the time to visit in person, the Tourism Offices are usually able to mail information… but I would rather not wait. And, if you did draw a map and write down places of interest, then I would take this with you to the Tourism Office or have it handy when you call so that you may ask specific questions about those places.
Once you have your points of interest list, rank their order to suit your present circumstance, such as if you only have an hour, a day or a long weekend. Again, this depends on the distance chosen for your circle. Perhaps you rank them by time it will take to complete, such as an hour, ½ a day or a weekend. The choices may also be based on the time of year; the lake you were hoping to kayak may now be a skating rink instead. Your current funds could be low as you are shopping for Christmas gifts so something like a walk on the beach or a hike in the mountains (unless there is a park fee) that doesn’t cost any money may be your best bet to spend your extra two hours today.
And, don’t feel you have to rush through the list. This is where you live, and unless you plan to move any time soon, this list could be good for 6 months, a year, two years, etc. However, if you do wait some time then check to make sure the information is accurate before making the hour drive to find out the horse ranch closed. Now you are inspired and prepared… get out there, and after, share your finds and adventures with friends and post on the XplorMor Facebook page for the community to experience the fun too. Happy, safe travels.
Instructions for using Free Map tools:
Click on www.freemaptools.com and on the left sidebar, select “Radius Around Point Map”. Then follow these instructions:
- Put in the zip code closest to the area you’d like to zero in on (box on bottom left side of map) and then zoom in to get to the right address on the street, then zoom out enough to be able to see the radius when it is drawn.
- Decide the radius distance.
- Click on map
- Decide on Line Thickness, Line Color, and Fill Color.
- Click on “Draw Radius”
- You may need to adjust the Zoom to move in closer or further away.
- Use your favorite screen capture tool to convert the image into a JPEG file