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How to Plan a Touristy Day in Your Own Backyard

By Nicole Bustamante

It’s hard not to feel FOMO when you see jet-setting Instagram posts left and right these days, but don’t fret! We’ve got just the plan for you if you’re not ready to hop on a plane quite yet or simply don’t have the funds saved up for a trip.


Dorothy said it best: there’s no place like home. While it’s easy to overlook the wonder and magic of your hometown or nearby city, you might find that your own backyard is full of unexplored sights and possibilities for adventure. And what’s even better is that you can experience it all on a budget. Subtract plane tickets and hotel costs from your balance, and you might be able to splurge on interesting attractions and restaurants closer to home. 


Of course, we’d never suggest that you blow all your money on a day in your own city, which is why we have compiled a list of things that you can do on a budget. Best of all, you can use Zip to pay for whatever fun excursion you decide to invest in. There’s no greater tool to help keep your budget in check than Zip, which allows you to split quite literally any payment into four and spread the total out over six weeks.


Ready to get started? You’ll want to begin by researching your local attractions and historical landmarks. You might be surprised what you find when investigating the history of your hometown. 


If you’re not sure where to look, we suggest browsing travel blogs that explore your town or city to see what other people call out as the must-see attractions. This may include places that you already know and love, or spots that you have consistently overlooked in the past!


Now buckle on your fanny pack, because we’ve got a journey of options ahead of us.


  • Bike or walk the area.

It’s easy to get caught up in the same old routine, driving to and from work or the grocery store. Changing up your mode of transportation will allow you to experience your hometown in a new way. If you have your own bike or easy access to a bikeshare program, this can be a fun way to explore your town’s nooks and crannies. If biking doesn’t suit you, you can choose to explore on foot at a slower pace—the better to take in all the local sights and sounds!


  • Go shopping locally.

We didn’t say spending was entirely out of the picture. If your willpower allows, you can opt to limit your browsing to window shopping. But if you’re feeling a little flush, consider the benefits of supporting your area’s small businesses. The fun of the experience comes from walking into little boutiques and stores and chatting up local employees to get their handpicked recommendations.


  • Make a meal inspired by your hometown.

Whether your culinary craft is exceptional or, shall we say, in development, there’s no better way to honor your hometown than by cooking up a classic. This could be a traditional dish that represents the region or a meal that simply reminds you of home. Whichever cooking route you choose, we recommend inviting some friends over to dine with you!


  • Send postcards to out-of-town friends and family.

There’s nothing like receiving (fun) surprise mail—i.e., not just another bill to pay. Surprise your loved ones who are far away with a postcard from your town or city, complete with a heartfelt message and “wish you were here” sentiment!


  • Buy some souvenirs!

Lean fully into the tourist act by scooping up some classic souvenirs. We’re talking magnets, key chains, t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers…you get the idea! Go all out to rep your hometown spirit.


  • Cheer on a local sports team.

It can be fun to go all out rooting for your local team, even if you’re not a big sports person. Gather some friends, throw on a festive t-shirt and hat, grab some snacks and drinks and act like you’ve been a fan since day one. We don’t judge fair-weather fandom here!


  • Visit a lookout point.

If you’re looking for a new way to romanticize your city, then simply go to the highest point available. Nothing screams “coming of age movie” like brooding at the top of a beautiful vista, creating the perfect pretend montage and giving you a new appreciation for your hometown.


  • Join a guided tour.

Put on your incognito look and blend into a crowd of actual tourists by slipping into a guided tour around your city. You will be surprised by all of the interesting facts and history you may not have known (or that you skimmed over when doing your research). Seeing and hearing about your hometown from the perspective of a local expert can be a transformative experience!


Let us remind you that you’re the real pro here. While attending a guided tour is fun, you can put your personal twist on the experience by writing a city guide and sharing it with your friends and family. Not only will this encourage you to get out and explore every inch of town, but it will also help you share some of your favorite spots with your loved ones.


  • Book a staycation.

If you want to really experience your hometown in a fresh, new way, try taking a “staycation.” Booking a hotel room for a night or two in your own backyard can give you a whole new perspective. You’ll have all the sights nearby and can play tourist by truly committing to the role.


The best part about all of these options is that you’ll never have to break the bank, especially if you’re using Zip to keep your budget balanced. Here’s to happy (neighborhood) travels

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Zip’s editorial content is not written by a financial advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

About the author
Nicole Bustamante

Nicole Bustamante is a writer and journalist passionate about storytelling and the art of fashion. She has written for The Zoe Report, Angeleno Magazine, Modern Luxury Interiors California, and more in addition to writing for her personal blog.