Back in summer, I wrote an article explaining why people should visit the Baltic states. It felt natural to write it as I have visited all three of them and been living in one - Lithuania - for the past 24 years.
But while I was writing the article, I realised how little I actually travelled within the borders of Lithuania. The country is so small, but it has so much to offer. And yet, I always end up going to the same places all over again - the capital, tourist attractions near the seaside, or nature parks that are within 100 kilometres from my hometown.
The most I travelled in Lithuania was in secondary school when excursions were a part of the curriculum. Once school was over, foreign countries started to become more interesting.
And going on two Erasmus+ exchanges made me visit more places in the Czech Republic and Slovakia than I had ever visited in Lithuania.
Have you felt the same? I am not surprised.
Perhaps it’s time we pause the world “exploration” and look back at our own countries. No matter how big or tiny they are, they are bound to have something we haven’t explored yet.
Answering the following questions can give you some ideas on what to visit and explore.
1. Have you visited all the UNESCO sites in your country?
2. How about national parks?
3. What are your favourite writers, singers, and artists from your country? Have you visited their hometowns?
4. Which town has the most distinct dialect (or even a different language)? Have you heard the locals speaking it?
5. Have you been on top of the tallest hill or mountain in your country?
6. Have you swum in the deepest lake? What about the biggest one?
7. Have you tried canoeing, kayaking, or rafting in the longest river in your country?
8. What is the “darkest” (least polluted) place there? Have you visited it for stargazing?
9. Have you visited more than 10 museums in your country?
10. What about at least 5 art galleries?
11. What is the most picturesque road in your country? Have you passed by it during a road trip?
12. How many castles are there in your country? Have you visited all of them?
13. Castle ruins included?
14. Which place has created the most romantic legend for itself? Have you been there with your significant other?
15. What about the place with the creepiest legend?
16. What is the weirdest place in your country? Have you seen it with your own eyes?
17. Where have your favourite music videos been filmed? Have you ever had the chance to visit them?
18. Have you been right next to the border of your country - apart from crossing it when going abroad?
19. What is the biggest or most beautiful forest in your country? Have you been there for hiking or berry/mushroom picking?
20. Finally, imagine this: your foreign friend is coming to your country for Erasmus and wants to visit a new town, city or place every weekend. He or she has 5 months, which is approximately 20 weekends. Could you make a list of the places that you would suggest for him or her? Have you visited all these places yourself?
In fact, you can use some of these questions next time you travel abroad, as well. But, before you do, think about all the places you are missing out in your country.
And visit them!
We often think that someday we will find the time to travel to the places in our home country. However, since we feel like we have years and years to do so, we end up never actually doing it.
Meanwhile, on Erasmus+ or similar exchange programmes, our time is limited and we want to explore as much as possible.
Treat your country as such an exchange, too. After all, we never actually know how much time we have for it.
So, have you chosen the first place to explore next weekend?