My Life As A Tourist
I lived in Ohio from the time I was born until I got married at 24. All of those years living in a place that I decided was ‘boring’ made me complacent in my view of my options. I assume the majority of teenagers feel trapped in their hometown. Even if you grow up in the world most incredible place, all you can think of when you get your first taste of freedom at 16 is going as far and wide as you can without the supervision of your parents. While I do feel lucky for all of the things I got to see growing up and even when I got that freedom, I feel like there was so much of Ohio and the surrounding areas that I missed out on. I see now that one of the biggest reasons I missed out as not that I lived in a “lame place” but because I refused to explore it in an intentional way.
I was very much engulfed in the snowboarding world as soon as I could join my big brother in our schools ski club, and I got to see a lot of fun places within that world. While living in Ohio I traveled to Vermont, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and even California on snowboarding trips with my friends. For anyone that does not know this, there is actually some really wonderful mountains (and hills) full of heart and drive in those states. Not every rider gets the pleasure of riding monster mountains their whole life. Those places raised me. My home hill was one of the most influential places of my life, it shaped me and filled me. I don’t want to take the power away from those memorable trips, but they served only as a way for me to begin my exit from my home.
Like any youth, my hometown was the worst. I never felt like I fit and I never gave it a chance. Moving to Utah sparked a joy in travel that I began to accept more fully and really embrace. I came out here with a laundry list of places that I felt like I needed to see and explore. My husband and I chose our must-see places out west and we wrote them out in huge black sharpie and framed it. As we saw these places we would take down the frame and cross off our Western Adventures checklist.Coming out here forced us to live simultaneously with more intention and also more spontaneity. When we started camping with friends they would give us a hard time about all the pictures we would take, always calling us tourists. Our eyes must have been so wide at every turn, I know my jaw was almost always on the floor when we would pull up to a new place. While calling us tourists was supposed to be a school-yard jab at how “uncool” we were being I really started to love the title. We were hungry to explore our new city and we really tried to discover our it in a way I never even considered back home.
When you grow up in one area for so long you can get comfortable. You can assume you know all the fun things to do and all the good places to eat, and you stop trying to find new things. While we were gone most weekends on some crazy camping adventure, we also wanted to spend our weeknights seeing what our new city had to offer. I would grab the City Weekly, scour Facebook and go to the Salt Lake City websites to try to find fun things to do close to home. Every major city has some sort of way to connect to the community and show off their top destinations. Go find your version and actually read through it, there is so much to be seen and experienced all around this country. Remember, we had no kids, no family, and minimal friends at this point, so besides work we had no obligations and complete freedom to really see what this new exciting place had to offer. We saw summer concerts, went to farmers markets downtown, went to ski and snowboarding video premiers that actually had celebrities of that scene attend, tried all sorts of restaurants and really did live like tourists. We were fully immersed in our city, and we barely even touched the surface of what was available.
If you are feeling bored or trapped where you are I cannot recommend living like a tourist more. Trying new things can expose you to new fun and more importantly new people. Talk to them, try to connect with new people when you go to places that are out of your comfort zone. As a true introvert, I fully appreciate how hard this concept can be, but if you connect to the people they can connect you an entirely new layer of things to explore. Making these connections can lead to friendships and help you grow your circle, or at the very least allow you to entertain good conversation for a few minutes. Connection to people will deepen your connection to your home, after all connecting with other people is the whole reason we are on this Earth, right?
During one of our list making exercises when we talked about moving back to Ohio we made a ‘must-see’ list of that area. Since living out west, we have discovered that a 6 hour drive was not really a big deal (even after having kids 4 hours is still easily doable, and will expand as they grow) and we drew a 6-hour circle around our hometown. As it turns out, there was a TON of Ohio and the surrounding states that one or both of us had missed out on, so we easily created a huge list of things to see and trips to make. This really opened our eyes to the idea that we could realistically live anywhere and make it work. Don’t get me wrong, Salt Lake City is still the best fit for us right now, but I am confident that we could live like tourists in or near any major city in this country.
I adore looking back on all of the pictures we took on our “tourist” trips and I highly recommend going all-in on the whole idea. Pictures do not have to take up a ton of space, and eventually I want to make books with all of these memories in them so we can look through them on a rainy day, or for inspiration on our next adventure. It is a great way to reminisce on all of the fun we have had without having to collect stuff in our home. Creating Shutterfly-style books of our adventures will also be a fun way to share with the boys what we have been able to do with them, really show them what they have seen before they are able to create those memories for themselves.
Traveling has also been a fun way for us to connect with family now that we have moved across the country. We have had the opportunity to meet up with family at a lot of fun destinations that we probably would not have done if we never left. We have seen Yellowstone and hiked in the Grand Tetons while camping with family, explored Florida beaches, and have had the unique experience of sharing our new home with many of our family. Since we have explored so much of our city, we have had a lot to share when visitors come our way. Showing family that we have really invested our time to connect in this world, we are able to hopefully allow them to breathe deeply that we are not alone out here and show them a little more about what we love about our city.
Living like a tourist is fun. If you think about how a tourist has to pack an incredible amount of activity into a small time frame you will begin to understand the power of living like a tourist. They seek out new and fun things with intention, fully aware of their limited time visiting a place. If everyone lived with so much intention then people would have a much deeper appreciation for all the beauty this country has to offer. Exploring your city like you have never been there can open your eyes to new spaces, food, and activities that you might not even know you have a love for. Open your eyes to what is around and you can begin to discover what really lights you up. Your interests might surprise even you, so get out there and try something new this week!