Back in 2014 I lived what you might want to call ‘the dream’. I had just finished my studies, started working as a freelance travel blogger, writer and social media editor, and traveled the world. Within 18 months I traveled to Norway, France, England, Scotland, Croatia, Israel, Spain – twice, Curacao, Germany, the Netherlands, Shetland, Zambia, Tanzania, India, Ecuador and the Galapagos; spending varying amounts of time in each country, collecting stories, taking photos, creating content, networking, meeting partners and having a bit of fun as well.

Then, Fall 2015 came round, I went back to uni for my PhD and found myself in a situation that was so utterly different from the past year, I didn’t really know how to handle it. I was still allowed 8 weeks of holiday as a postgraduate student, but with the pressure of finishing your thesis within three years and the constant imposter syndrome that comes with the course, there was no way, I could travel as long and spontaneously as I used to. Now, my work is not as flexible anymore; instead of just grabbing my laptop and leaving, I’d have to bring a wheel-barrel of books and a photocopy machine.

Traveling the world is a dream for many - and for some time, I've lived it! There came a point though, where I had to slow down considerably and resist the urge to hope on the next plane. Here is why today I prefer to explore my own backyard, instead of traveling the world.

Now, I know that this is complaining on a high level. I feel incredibly grateful for the privileges I have in life – being able to travel, to move abroad, to attend University and pursue a PhD. This is not supposed to be a post about how hard my privileged life is. There are many reasons why someone might not be able to travel and this particular case is just my story. I hope that the details won’t matter though, as you read on.

Ever since I went back to uni, I have had to say no to a lot of travel opportunities for the blog – and it doesn’t get easier. Yet, the writer in me can’t sit still for long enough, and so, I’ve found another way to cure my wanderlust. I explore my own backyard.

Do I miss the hustle and bustle of exploring a different country and immersing myself if a foreign culture? Would I rather be strolling down the busy streets of Buenos Aires or Kampala, than the sidewalks of Mount Florida in Glasgow? Yes, of course!

Well, kind of.

Maybe, not so much actually.

I’m fortunate enough to call Scotland my backyard, a country that has recently been named a top destination by every travel magazine out there – and they’re onto something. Traveling mostly around Scotland and nearby destinations, such as England or Ireland, I still get to choose from a vast range of destinations, activities and adventures. Seeing that my creative side business is a travel blog about Scotland, every weekend getaway or day trip I manage to squeeze in, even counts as being productive.

But that is not the only benefit of exploring my own backyard instead of traveling abroad. Here are a few other reasons why I love those micro-adventures that start at my doorstep.

1) It forces me to be creative

Travel blogger Kathi Kamleitner exploring her backyard by boat in Scotland's region Argyll.

Being a full-time student on a tight budget, without a car and a broke musician as partner, forces me to get creative. Not always, can I afford to actually go on a micro-adventure outside of the city; so instead, I often go on a tiny-micro-adventures within Glasgow.

I get creative with how I spend my time and how I can create travel stories with an impact without spending any money or leaving the city. One of my favourite ways to explore Glasgow, for example, is through the eyes of locals. I visit artists in their studio spaces, talk to independent shop owners about their curation process, meet cafe owners to hear everything about their local producers or simply ask a friend to show me their favourite place in the city. Not only does this guarantee me some pretty amazing adventures around the city, but it also helps me to write interesting stories that I can pitch to a variety of travel outlets.

Whenever I do get the opportunity though to venture further out, I get creative in terms of making a destination work for me. I try new activities, find little known locations and learn more about the history of a place.

 

2) It slows me down

Travel blogger Kathi Kamleitner sitting at the top of Goatfell, the highest mountain on the Isle of Arran in Scotland.

Being restricted to travel within a certain radius, enables me to go much slower than I used to. While once, I would try to see a whole country in a week, I now focus on small regions one trip at a time. Fast travel was never my preferred way to travel, and I think my best travel stories have always originated in longer trips and more intense encounters with local people.

With less days to spend on the road, I want to make every travel day count and not sit in a car or plane forever. Train journeys have become my favourite mode of transportation, because they allow you to get a sense of the distance you’re crossing, you can get some writing done while on it, and you see the beautiful landscape rush past you.

I also discovered trekking last year, and after a brilliant trek in Sweden and another one in the Highlands, I decided to make 2018 the year in which I will complete several long-distance walks in Scotland. The first one is already booked and the second one will lead me to the Outer Hebrides for three weeks – a region in Scotland, most schedule only 3-5 days for.

 

3) It gives me the opportunity to become an expert

Travel blogger Kathi Kamleitner on one of her guided tours through Glasgow, which also include a walk up the Necropolis for views over Glasgow Cathedral and the city.

As a travel blogger, it is all about giving your stories authority – and how could you write with authority about a place you’ve only visited for 5 days? Exploring my backyard has given me the opportunity to become a real expert when it comes to travel in Scotland.

Now, I not only write about my own trips, I also offer to plan other people’s holidays around Scotland and have started to take clients on guided tours around Glasgow. Having been to (almost) all corners of Scotland in the past 2.5 years, I have a vast knowledge of the destination, and can make suggestions that no travel blogger could make after a 10 day road trip through the Highlands. I know how to go off the beaten track, how to escape or beat the crowds, where to go for the most beautiful beaches and which hikes have the best views.

 

4) It makes me more grateful

Travel blogger Kathi Kamleitner taking in the view of Fort William and the Highlands from the Nevis Range in Scotland.

Ever since the Brexit vote, there has been a lot of uncertainty about my future in this country. Combining this with the fact that I managed to experience Scotland’s diverse landscapes and people, I am eternally grateful for every adventure I get to have here.

Scotland has been a warm and welcoming place for me, and has offered me a lot of opportunities to further my education, career and personal development. It’s not like I was ungrateful when I got to travel for work, but now I am certainly more aware about the little things that make my life at home better.

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Will I ever go back to the glamorous lifestyle of a full-time travel blogger who can work anywhere and anytime? Possibly.

But my experiences in the past have shown that for me sometimes less is more. I do look forward to the day when I hold that little scroll of paper in my hand, that will set me free and allow me to spread my wings once again. I will hopefully be able to seize more opportunities to travel abroad again, but I will certainly always appreciate what’s at my doorstep and keep exploring my own backyard.

What do you do, when you simply don’t have the time/money/opportunity to travel far and wide? Do you explore your own backyard?

All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.