How to See The World in a 5 Hour Drive (or less)

I love musicals. I love them so much that in high school I performed in them, despite being quite mediocre at singing, dancing and acting. Classic Sam. I knew without a doubt I wanted to see my favorite shows on Broadway when I “grew up” (whatever that is supposed to mean)

I’ve never been to New York, but I’ve been to at least 7 Broadway productions. I’ve watched all of my favorites in the same glory I would have witness them in, if I was in the Big Apple, but most were seen in a day drive’s distance.

This past year, I’ve realized there is a lot of world to be seen less than 4-6 hours from my house, and while I think I’ve always tried to take advantage of that, I feel like I have this year especially.  I’ve seen Picasso and The Chinese Terra-cotta Warriors, I’ve been on Game Shows and explored National Parks. I’ve seen all of this in less than a 5 hour drive.

I often times feel like the internet and social media tries to convince us that we have to go far to be amazed or to see something extraordinary, but it’s closer than you think.

So without further ado, I want to present my guide to seeing the world in a day:

STEP ONE: Determine “What Your Are After”

I think the first thing you should do when trying to plan an adventure, is determine what your over-arching goal is. Do you want to see art? Live music or theatre? Do you want to plan or be spontaneous? Do you need to budget? (Yes everyone does, even Beyoncé) Deciding “What you are After” well help you figure out what the next steps are.

STEP TWO: Set a "Range”

So, lets say you want to see some awesome art and try a new type of cuisine, for example, Himalayan. Chances are, you aren't ready to hop on a plane to Paris to explore the Louvre or likewise you aren't planning on traveling to Nepal within the next month. However, you are willing to drive. At least, for a little while. It’s important to decide how far you want to go. 2 hours? 3? 5 and an overnight stay? Before any concrete planning takes place, I think its crucial to determine how far you are willing to go and for how long.

STEP THREE: BUDGET, MY DUDES 

HEAR ME OUT. I know you're wondering, Sam, we literally haven't even decided where we are going. Well, if that’s your thought, then you need to take a seat because I am about to drop a travel truth bomb. I think it can be SO helpful deciding what you can or what you are willing to spend before even determining a destination. For one, you avoid the disappointment of planning a vacation you realize you can't afford. SECONDLY, You have clear boundaries as to what you need to spend, and you are less likely to get caught up once you arrive in spending money you didn’t plan on, and then ending up eating ramen for the next two weeks after because you accidentally blew your paycheck on a crappy tour and a less than delicious fancy dinner. And lastly, it allows you to evaluate all options within your budget, rather than make a budget fit to one option. So, set a budget. Say, I want to spend $200 over the course of three days, or I want to spend $40 in an afternoon. Set. A. Budget.

STEP FOUR: SEEK OPPORUNITY!!!!

This is probably the most important part, after you have decided where and when and how far and how much money you want to spend on finding your adventure, then FIND IT. Trust me, its crazy the things that are closer to you than you could ever guess. Google “what you are after”. I mean don’t literally search that phrase, but look for things you want to experience. Be it traveling art exhibits, or tours for concerts and performances, even your favorite game show. Search for TED talks and book tours and even architecture. If you want to see wildlife, google rescues and zoos and sanctuaries. I used to think I would have to go to Australia to pet a Kanagroo. This summer, I did it in Kentucky. Spend time researching what you want and trust me, you might not find the exact thing, but you will find something that will probably exceed your expectations. Pay attention to local events too, see who and what’s is passing into town. That’s how I met the voice of Mario and Luigi back in college. Once these types of things are on your radar, you will notice them more and more and it almost becomes an addicting scavenger hunt for finding fun and amazing things that are nearby.

If you’re planning on staying overnight, search Airbnb for fun lodging opportunities. Tree houses, Yurts, Tee-Pees, you name it. See, you don’t have to visit Mongolia or Thailand to stay in these types of exotic places. Look it up for yourself, and you will see what I’m talking about. SEEK IT. Think of locations outside the box, I highly recommend Atlas Obscura for researching unique locations near you. Research until you are surprised and excited by your new destination for the day or next few days.

THEN DO IT.

That’s all it takes, at least on the East Coast, but I would be willing to bet it would apply for anywhere in the US. You will be amazed at how easy it can be to knock off bucket list items in a matter of a couple days. And most important, in the matter of a couple hours away.

Day trips are how I’ve accomplsihed a large number of items I had been day dreaming about since I was a kid. As much as the world or the country can seem bleak, we are lucky to be able to seek out opportunities from our phones, research those things, type that in our GPS and go.

I urge you to try this process tonight, no matter how unrealistic you think it might be. Just take these steps and plan it.

I think you might be surprised with what you find.