March 07, 2014

"Heads Carolina, Tails California"

It stands to reason that you learn to crawl before you walk, walk before you run, and all of the above before you sign yourself up for the Boston Marathon.  So before you book your flight to the Andes, the Alps, or the Aleutians, you probably ought to have some experience in traveling locally, regionally, or domestically!

Planning a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation regionally requires the same ingredients as planning an international vacation, but with the added bonus that it's generally cheaper to vacation closer to home.  Be a tourist in your own state!  If someone were visiting your state from another country, what sites or activities would they see?  Have you done or seen those things yet?  If not, here's your chance to do it and gain some traveling experience along the way.

Kilmarnock, Virginia
© Thrifty Gypsy

For those of us in the Mid-Atlantic states, there are many historical, cultural, outdoorsy, and "foodie" things to do and see.  Virginia is arguably the birthplace of our nation with the founding of Jamestown in 1607, many Revolutionary War battlegrounds, Civil War history, and former residences of many U.S. Presidents.  The Chesapeake Bay and the coast lines of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and the Outer Banks in North Carolina are a mecca for beach lovers and outdoors-men alike.  The Appalachians are the backbone for these states as well, providing winter sport activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, and is also a playground for campers, hikers, and kayakers in the summer.  Prefer to spend quality time in a museum?  The Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. are world-class and free, and there are many beautiful, iconic monuments to enjoy in the district, too.  Washington D.C. can also offer your palate nearly any kind of international food you could possibly desire.  Richmond, VA, is also emerging as a destination for foodies, and both Asheville and Chapel Hill in North Carolina appeared on Livability's 2014 "Top 10 Foodie Cities" at the number two and seven spots, respectively (  Virginia's wine industry is growing in quality and popularity, and Delaware's wine and ale trail is a fun weekend event ( for couples or groups.
What I've mentioned above is just a small sampling of things to do and see in a handful of states in the Mid-Atlantic.  Take a look at your region to see what captures your interest for a short vacation.  Once you've settled on what you want to do and see, think about what it'll take to make it happen.  How are you going to get there?  Where are you going to stay?  What are you going to eat?  Do you need reservations for any of the activities?  How much money do you need?

Even for experienced travelers, a local or regional weekend getaway can often take the edge off your hunger to see new places and do new things.  The United States is a wonderful place to live and visit; don't become so inured to the beauty of our country that you forget to see it through the eyes of a tourist!

In my next post I'll go into more details of how to find the best deals for a regional trip by drawing on my personal experience planning a girls weekend from Richmond, Virginia, to Atlantic City, New Jersey.

But until then, keep pinching your pennies and enjoy being a tourist in your own backyard!

~ Just A Thrifty Gypsy 

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