For Americans, the toe-tapping anxiety steeped in wanderlust is a real problem in a time when travel is frowned upon, even dangerous. While many are perfectly content to stay put during the pandemic, many more dream of the day when they can seek adventure through travel once again. My wife and I caught the bug of international travel a year ago during our honeymoon to Scotland and Iceland, but the reality that it may be years before we can take a similar trip is slowly setting in.
The Urban Phoenix began with the concept of “intrastate exploration” and the idea that very few people look within their own backyard to find destinations that inspire a sense of weekend adventurism. In my home state of New York, no one highlights this better than my friend Chris Clemens of Exploring Upstate.
In a time when it’s probably best not to fly on a plane, exploring the beauty of your own state and its cities is more important than ever. Here in my home state of New York, most people still assume they know what Schenectady, Utica, Troy and Binghamton look like… but in reality, these cities are experiencing a tremendously powerful progressive movement that is transcending their dated identities as sleepy rust belt casualties.
Now is the time to see this transcendence for yourself. Whether you live in New York or any state in our nation, now is the perfect time to explore the places you thought you knew but haven’t actually seen in 15 years. Now is the time to look to your own backyard for the same adventures that I’ve found while traveling across my home state.
Every city or county has a local tourism website or office. Email or contact these resources and find out what’s new and interesting. There are people in every locale in our country waiting for tourists like you who want to explore the beauty that is adjacent to their own backyards. Before my first trip to Utica, New York, a trip that would change my life and the way I saw small urban America, I too was skeptical. But a quick conversation with the local tourism office had me immediately excited for something new.
On the other side, cities, counties and communities of all sizes must also be proactive in the creation of a collaborative miro-tourism campaign that encourages residents to explore close by. Cross -promotion of events and attractions between neighboring cities should encourage residents to take short trips to places they might not have considered when more lavish travel possibilities were safe options. Tourism agencies should work tirelessly together to ensure that each state has a strategic plan to reinforce recreational intrastate travel, including transportation solutions, destinations and marketing.
Now is the time to realize what we are missing just 20, 50, 100 miles away. Maybe it’s down Interstate or even a quick trip on Amtrak (which is selling at 50% capacity and implementing rigorous safety measures) the chance to explore your state is now. Maybe that tropical vacation or European adventure will have to wait, but the opportunity to visit places you thought you knew in your own backyard is a much safer and more approachable alternative. Visiting different cities in my state has changed my perspective, and I bet it will change yours too!