How to Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

“I don’t know man. I’m just bored here,” That’s most of us, isn’t it? So let me ask something about your hometown. And I bet not many of you would answer. Drop everything and travel the world doesn’t always work. Specially when you have a very tight budget and limited time. So it’s time you become a backpacker in your own town.

  1. Trust your feet

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A bicycle on the streets of Galle

The first and the most important thing. Drop your car keys. Forget the crowded bus. And walk! You’ll discover new things and see a whole new world out of mundane. Trusting your feet helps you see the beauty in little things. We live in Colombo, the bustling commercial capital of Sri Lanka, and we, often walk. It helps us discover little corners of the unloved city. For an example, we never noticed how aesthetically pleasing bicycles are until we stepped out and walked like two backpackers.

  1. Carry a camera

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Ginger tea from Diiyatha Uyana in Battaramulla

This doesn’t need to be a fancy camera. But if you have one, why not take it out? Otherwise, trust your phone camera. Take photos of unlikeliest places. And of places you never saw the real beauty. Or you never bothered of noticing. When we carry our Nikon, most of the people think us as tourists. Many of them ask if we’re from India. And sometimes we say yes, too. ‘Cause why not?

  1. Go to a hostel

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Clock Inn Colombo

Yep, step outside your home. Go to a hostel in your city and book two nights. Mingle with people around the world, listen to their stories and share yours. Nat lived in Clock Inn Colombo for almost seven months and we both lived in another small hostel for nearly two months. During our stay in hostels in our own city we met so many people and some we made friends with. Two of the Pakistanis we made friends with now manage a beautiful resort in Galle and we are always welcome for a vacation there for free.

  1. Be a guide

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A white tuk tuk in Galle Fort.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need formal training and join a travel agency. Often in hostels, you find people who need travel information. And tourists are more likely to rely on locals. Nat often took a few friends he met in Clock Inn for a walk around the city. Because, remember he’s always the talker. This way, you see your own city as something anew. Since you know the local language, it’s a great help for your foreign friend. Specially in Colombo, we help them escape the tuk tuks without a meter.

  1. Go on a date with your city

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Arthur’s Pizzeria & Pub offers some of the best pizzas in Colombo.

This might results in a fast-draining wallet but a good way to embrace your city. What are the five best places for cheesecake in your town?  Maybe a new Sushi place which you never tried out? Now is the time to discover them all.

  1. Learn your city’s history

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Passing Bauddhaloka Mawatha in Colombo

What about the iconic buildings in your town? Maybe there are some places you don’t even know the name of. When we roamed in Pettah streets, we came across beautiful buildings with a touch of Dutch architecture. Most of the temples and historical places sell booklets written about the history of your city. Buy one and learn.

  1. Eat street food

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Isso Wade in Galle Face Beach

This might be something you every day do. Or not. In Colombo, a lot of locals avoid street food for some reason. But they’re always mostly safe. We walked back and forth to Mount Lavinia beach from our hostel and we found a street vendor who sells sausages and tapioca chips for less than $1. And trust us, we wouldn’t mind having it for whole three meals. It’s that delicious.

Have you ever backpacked in your own town? Ever been a tourist in your home place? Is your town home to some of the tourist-y and cool spots? We’d love to know. Share in the comments below.

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We are Nathan and Zinara, documenting our experiences and stories for a lifestyle full of love and adventure. Currently based in Sri Lanka.

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