I could go into how it’s important to visit family and friends for the obvious reasons of staying in touch, they will/should always be there for you, and, well, how it’s always good being around just that, family. All that should go without saying though.
I can admit that I am not the best at following my own advice here. Like many others out there who will say they want to or will come visit a family member or friend who just moved to a new city or country, I put off doing so for a number of years. Yes, they might be there indefinitely, but what’s the wait? Just because something seems as though it will always be there, doesn’t mean it will. There could be a sudden move or event that no longer allows you to visit them or the place in which they live. Until my recent trips, I’ve put off visiting my cousins in New York and Boston for three and two years, respectively.
Why did I put off visiting them? No reason in particular, other than what was the rush? They would always be there, and I could always visit go them. While I never openly admitted it to myself, this had been my line of thinking. This past Christmas, I was informed that my cousins in Boston would be moving to Atlanta in January, so I immediately decided to plan a trip. With New York and Boston being so close together, I decided to visit both. And I cannot even begin to tell you how worthwhile these trips were for numerous reasons.
As I alluded to earlier, you are visiting people who care about you and will enjoy seeing you. They want to have a good time, and you want to have a good time. It’s a win-win. You can explore together some of the time and discover new things on your own while they are still going about their day-to-day tasks. While I love traveling, exploring, and discovering on my own, I enjoyed exploring and venturing around with my family and friends just as much. Heck, I even took my cousins, who live in Boston, to Paul Revere’s House and the North End Church, which all of our first times seeing them.
While there are some things that those you are visiting have not seen – probably more of the touristy things – there are plenty to which they have, especially stuff that’s not in the guidebooks. We get a peak into local life by visiting family and friends in different cities and different countries because you are essentially visiting and staying with a local.
Now, most many travelers will say that they want a “local” experience and to meet “local” people. This is most often thought of as living with a family in Spain, volunteering at a school in Jamaica, or meeting strangers who become friends out at a bar and going out with them the next night. These are all great experience, and ones that I have personally had. However, do not forget that your friends and family are in fact locals of the place in which they live. They can show you restaurants, sights, bars, and interesting, fun facts and stories about the place that you are visiting. Most importantly, though, is that you can see how a local lives, and not just any local either, someone you care about and know well.
As any traveler knows and look forward to, you will be able to see what their life is like and how it differs from yours. You will learn about life elsewhere, and learn how there are other and sometimes better ways to do things. You broaden your horizons.
Traveling and being on the road can sometimes get lonely if you’re doing solo travel or a little annoying and chaotic if you’re traveling with a large group. I found that traveling by myself to visit family and friends was a happy medium to the two. Although, don’t get me wrong; I love all kinds of travel and will jump at an opportunity to travel. In visiting friends and family, I was able to explore on my own and satisfy my quench for solo travel and the freedom associated with it, while getting the chance to be shown around and explore places with those I’m very close with. Keep this in mind, especially if you aren’t too keen on either solo or group travel or if you’d like to try out a little bit of solo travel while not being completely alone.
It was just in recent years that my family really began to spread out across the country, so taking advantage of the opportunity to be able to visit them is something new. I couldn’t be happier that I decided to go visit them, and I highly recommend it to others, whether you are looking for time with family and friends, a local experience, or some time to experiment with solo travel. I know that I definitely plan on visiting more family and friends in the near future, both in Spain and back in the US! So that means, Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, northern Wisconsin, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Omaha in the United States and Málaga (Danielle), Madrid (Julia), Sevilla (Cat), and Galicia (Trevor). Not an exclusive list either, of course!