How to be a tourist in your own town without breaking the bank

tourist in own town everyday budget copy

It feels like everywhere I look I am seeing the term Staycation. The idea of having a vacation in your own city has taken the internet by storm. If not a storm, then a well intentioned heavy shower.

And I just want to say two things – ‘called it’ and ‘why aren’t we doing this on a regular basis?’ Being a tourist in your own town should be a way of life, not something that we reserve for special occasions. You should go to museums and parks, eat ice cream at the beach and have breakfast at your favourite look out. But you shouldn’t save it all up for the one weekend when you make the effort to enjoy the world around you. Release your inner Vagabond and make the activities we often reserve for vacation a way of life. We do those things on vacation because we enjoy them and want our vacation to be memorable. It really stands to reason that we should do the things that are enjoyable and memorable on a regular basis instead of plodding through our lives waiting for the next designated fun time.

Unfortunately holidays can be expensive. It takes some of us all year (or longer) to save up to do the things we wouldn’t usually spend the money on because we’re determined to make the most out of every moment of our getaway. While the following list of ways to be a tourist in your own town is in no way definitive, it should give you a good place to start without having to break the bank and sacrifice your holiday savings.


Coffee to go

So often we have a cuppa with friends at home because it gets quite expensive to go out to cafés constantly. Or we don’t want the hassle of sitting somewhere crowded. Or our children are too young to sit still in a café. Or maybe you roast your own beans and prefer your own brew. Instead of sitting around the kitchen table in your well worn groove, grab a thermos and head to a spot with a gorgeous view. Not only will you draw energy and joy from being in the company of someone you love but you will soak in vitamin D, known to enhance your mood through endorphin release.


Instead of stepping out to the back verandah to throw a shrimp on the barbie (was that suitably stereotypically Aussie enough? That is the first and definitely last time I am likely to say that. I feel dirty.) Pack a basket and go out to a national park or waterfront barbeque area. Daylight savings gives you the perfect opportunity to prepare dinner in advance and then head out to a public barbeque area to enjoy each other’s company and chat about your days. Whilst on holidays in the Snowy Mountains we barbequed in the snow at the highest village in Australia. It was a magical experience. Recapture the fun and care free feeling of holidays by barbequing where the tourists go, or a lesser known spot that the locals keep a closely guarded secret.

Breakfast/lunch at your favourite lookout

You know that lovely, decadent feeling of eating breakfast in a hotel while you watch the waves crash on the shore below? Or the sensation of a warm breeze on your face as you watch the world go by at a café over lunch? There are no rules as to where you have to eat on a daily basis. We’re grownups and our Mum’s can’t tell us to sit up at the table and eat our brussels sprouts. Pack your meal and a yoga mat or picnic blanket in the car and head up to a local lookout to eat just like you would when on a road trip.

Visit a museum, gallery or garden – or cemetery.

A great deal of museums, gardens and galleries are free or gold coin donation. Take time out to soak in the beauty of art, the splendour of nature or the enormity of the local history. Tourists know to do that when they come to your town, make it a habit to keep an eye out for little gardens and galleries to explore at a later date while you’re out running errands. Or spend a moment wandering around an ancient, tumble-down cemetery. Imagine the stories of all the lives that have lived before you and worked together to create the city you see around you.

Go for a drive to a place you have never been

You know there’s one. A place people visit when they come to your town, but you live there so you’ve never bothered to go. A spot you’ve often thought ‘I must go there one day’. A scenic drive that goes nowhere in particular but has majestic ocean views that you’ve never taken because it is quicker to go the direct route. Look in your local tourist information bureau and you might be lucky enough to find a brochure full of scenic drives you never thought to take.

Grab your camera

Chanel your inner tourist by grabbing your camera and heading out to take some photos. Be mindful in the way you view the world. See the changing of the leaves, the pebble that is shaped like a heart, the way the sun reflects off the lake and the soft downy fuzz of the saltbush leaf. Get all macro function on the world around you. Or use the rapid fire ‘sports’ mode to capture the perfect wave break. Embrace your inner teenage girl and photograph footprints in the sand (unless you are a 50 year old man, then it is best never to embrace random teenage girls). Practice your panoramic shots across ripe wheat paddocks ready for harvest. What photos would you take if you had never been there before and wanted to show friends back home?

Use your lunch break

Look around where you work. You might be surprised to find walking trails to explore, nature reserves with the ideal clearing for a spot of yoga, an art gallery. A break to clear your mind and walk away from the stresses of your job can make the work day go faster and have you feeling less weighed down by the end of the shift.

Google free things to do in your city

Chances are there is a free walking tour, art exhibition, or pelican feeding. Think you’ve seen your city? Try seeing it through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time while you learn about a history you’ve only scratched the surface of. If you’re on the Central Coast, Edogowa Gardens and the Friendship Walk is a great place to start.

National Parks

National Parks are a wonderful resource that we often take for granted. When we drive to the Blue Mountains for a day trip we always head to the waterfalls, look outs and scenic bushwalks. But we don’t need to go nearly that far to find natural beauty. Jump online to your state’s national parks website and see what wonders await you. Exploring local Aboriginal sites, bird watching, wildflower walks, boardwalks and historic sites is a wonderful way to enjoy your town as a permanently entrenched tourist. Somersby Falls is a particular favourite of ours.

Break the mould

Usually go to your closest beach for a swim? Drive an extra 10 minutes to find a new cove to explore. Usually drive directly to your in-laws for Sunday lunch? Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and take the scenic route. Stop off at a lookout for a hot drink to ward off the winter chill and watch the clouds roll in.

Day camping

Now I know that you can’t do this everywhere, but if you live somewhere with free camping spots or a National Park that has facilities for you to set up for the day, try a thing I’ve decided to call day camping. I made the name up just then as I was trying to think of other ways for you to enjoy life. Bring your camp chairs, firewood (as long as it is not a fireban), portable barbeque, hiking shoes, frisbee, footy or whatever you would normally want during the day whilst camping. Get your natural high out in nature, it’s camping without the leaky air mattress’ and missing tent pegs.

Have a Bruch Fuelled Vagabond style staycation

Feeling tired and run down? Dreaming of a holiday not because of the things you can do but because of the things you don’t have to do? Try unplugging and unwinding with a Brunch Fuelled Vagabond style staycation.






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