I’m wearing a chic-robe that’s downy soft, the color of creamy butter. A soft-spoken attendant approaches, directing me to an inviting lounge chair, set in the middle of a spacious room. She smiles as I make myself comfortable and tells me she’ll be back for me in an hour.
I’m about to experience halotherapy—a hot new-ish trend popping up in numerous resorts and wellness centers—for the very first time. And I’m not in Wieliczka, Poland or Berchtesgaden, Germany. I’m in a 7,000-pound Himalayan salt cave environment, 25 minutes from my Saratoga Springs, New York, apartment.
Later today, I’ll settle into my luxurious king suite, on the third floor of a historic hotel only three miles from home. I’ll join friends for dinner and drinks downstairs in the bar. In the morning, after stretching myself awake from a dead sleep, I’ll enjoy a hot breakfast and coffee in the hotel’s four-star restaurant. Checkout time will be here, unfortunately, before I’m ready to leave.
As a travel writer, I get plenty of opportunities to see the world…in a way I never could as an ordinary tourist. I’ve visited sunny Fiji and mythical Ireland; I’ve climbed castles in England, I’ve explored the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I’ve enjoyed the cultural richness of Germany.
But what you might not know is that you don’t have to trek across the world to get freebies; you can start right from your own hometown.
I’m able to visit places nearby where I live and have the costs covered for me. Sometimes, I only have a day or two free to travel, and local travel is a life-saver when it comes to time constraints. I can experience new things in my life without having to dip into my own bank account…and without the commitment of a long overseas journey.
One day might be devoted to four or five museums within a 50-mile drive. Another might find me enjoying breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a hole-in-the-wall dive or five-star restaurant no one’s even heard of before.
In a few weeks, I’ll jump in my car, drive a few hours West of Saratoga, to the village of Chittenango, New York. It’s the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, so I’m looking forward to being emersed in ‘all things OZ.’ (I adored that movie as a child). And I’ve already found a way to make sure all the expenses will be covered.
While I have international adventures planned for the next few years. I’m thankful that I don’t have to wait for another bucket-list trip, or my retirement, to feel alive. Experiencing the joy of travel from home enriches my everyday life. It helps ground me and fills me with a sense of wonder. Getting paid to travel overseas…and sometimes just a few miles from home…gives me the best of both worlds.
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