I know readers don’t visit this site to learn about trends in travel blogging or “inside baseball” information about my career as a journalist and travel writer. And I won’t start today. But as I stand here in a beer garden in the awesome Tennessee Brewery property in Downtown Memphis, I can’t help but reflect on what I see a lot on other travel blogs: the desire to escape something. If you’re like me, you have roots in a particular place, probably with family obligations and, while you enjoy traveling, you also enjoy where you live. Sometimes, travel at home can be enough. Why do we have to escape something?
Why do people travel? Why do you travel? Do you even make travel a priority in your life? Travel is a big priority to my family, so much so that I’m struggling right now to get my travel plans for the remainder of 2014 to match up with my remaining vacation days.
I recently had a discussion with the PR director of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau about how a large number of Memphians don’t use their allotted vacation time each year. That’s a topic for another day, but I do wonder if those people are so happy with their career that they don’t want to take a break, or they just don’t feel the need to travel. I feel the need to travel – constantly. I have a travel blogging friend, Cacinda of Pointsandtravel.com who has a mission of traveling every six weeks. I think that’s awesome. But not everyone can travel that much. So that brings me back to the idea of travel at home.
Yes, I have a day job in addition to the travel writing I do here and for other publications. I get a healthy amount of vacation time, especially for Americans: Three weeks plus a few floating days. I can’t complain. I wish I had more so I could fulfill my desire to see other places.
But sometimes I have to remind myself that the desire to travel can be met at home. I’m not a fan of the word staycation. It’s not a word, at least not in this journalist’s vocabulary. I live in a really awesome city, one that has an endless amount of things to do. In fact, my city is a major travel destination, especially for European travelers. It has a little something to do with Elvis, blues music and the city’s rock ‘n’ roll legacy. But that’s not why I love my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.
I’m writing this as I stand at a makeshift table in the courtyard of the Tennessee Brewery, a building that has sat abandoned since the 1950s and is scheduled to be brought down later this summer. But a group of Memphians thought it would be pretty cool to throw this old place a going-away party of sorts.
So they came up with the idea of Tennessee Brewery Untapped, a beer garden/food truck party/awesome hangout coolness that takes place every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from late April to early June.
Memphians from all over the city – Downtown, Midtown, the suburbs – congregate here for a drink, a meal, to listen to the live music or just to hang out. THIS is exactly the type of thing I seek out when I travel.
Who knows if this wildly successful gathering spot will change this building’s prospects. But it’s just the latest happening in this city, where locals are taking pride in what we have. Whether it’s the monthly South Main Art Trolley Tour, the Levitt Shell Summer Concert Series, the parks, the mini-festivals, the awesome restaurants popping up all over town or any number of other things, we have an awesome city to experience.
So how does all that relate to travel? Well, I’ll go back to that thought on my lack of vacation time. Having a three-day weekend like what comes with Memorial Day would be the perfect time for a getaway. I’m trying to plan a baseball trip with some friends, and a three-day weekend would be huge in making that a reality so I don’t have to use those precious vacation days.
But we made the decision to stay in town and hang out with friends. Hanging out at Tennessee Brewery Untapped is an obvious one, but the kick off of the Levitt Shell summer series, Zoo Brew and the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony are all awesome events, the type of thing we travel to other cities sometimes to experience. And I can experience them all at home. Yes, travel at home is a real idea.
So do I think I need to escape home to enjoy travel? Not at all. I believe travel at home is one of the most rewarding travel experiences I can have. I have nothing to escape. Travel is part of who I am. And I have no desire to escape who I am.
This summer as you consider what to do with your vacation time, keep your hometown in mind. Travel at home can be just as rewarding as travel to the big awesome destinations if you’ll let it. You might just find that travel at home is just the type of life experience you’re desiring.