Joy of Discovering New Places Close to Home

Chincoteague Virginia

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Enterprise, but all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. And yes, I really did use the Enterprise rental location mentioned in the post, completely unprompted by the company.

If you spend any time perusing the digital travel space you will no doubt chance upon a multitude of posts about traveling slow or living like a local or blah, blah, blah. While the pieces are fine and sometimes even well written, they’re tone deaf. They’re written for people who have incredible amounts of time to spend traveling which, for the vast majority of the world, isn’t realistic. Most people do not have a month or two to spend traveling and even if they did, they wouldn’t want to. I know I don’t and I never have. Even though I’m now self-employed and theoretically have all the time in the world to spend traveling, in reality I do not. I have responsibilities here at home but more than that, I also really enjoy being at home. I don’t think I’m alone in my feelings and in fact I know I’m not thanks to Enterprise’s annual weekend getaway survey. They discovered that 85% of respondents plan to escape on a weekend trip this year, an increase from last year. That’s huge and so today I want to share a few reasons why short-term travel can be just as impactful and meaningful as long-term travel. At the end of the day, I don’t want people to feel like they shouldn’t bother with traveling because they don’t have the time required to reap the benefits. That’s simply not the case.

Incredible spots close to home

No matter where you live, I guarantee there’s something interesting within an easy drive. Living in Maryland, I know there’s an over-abundance of great places to explore within a 3-5 hour drive. This is actually pretty common around the country and according to that Enterprise survey, Americans are prepared to travel farther and spend more on those important getaways. In recent years, I’ve made it a mission to do more of this close-to-home travel. Whether it’s Colonial Williamsburg or Hershey PA, the experiences have been fun and not at all what I expected, but none more so perhaps than a visit to the Eastern Shore. Picking up a rental car at the Enterprise location close to my house, I then hit the road for a quick trip I know that I’ll never forget.

Chincoteague Virginia

Ponies and beaches

Even though I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area for 18 years, I had never before visited Chincoteague because I imagined it was far away and hard to reach. Almost immediately while researching my trip to this island along the Eastern Shore of Virginia, I realized how very wrong I’d been. Whether you’re coming from DC or New York from the north or Virginia Beach or North Carolina from the south, the drive along U.S. Route 13 will be as important a part of your off the beaten path experience in Chincoteague as those famous ponies. An old highway, U.S. Route 13 is one of the most scenic in the country, crossing the coastal plains of the Mid-Atlantic and the Delmarva Peninsula itself. Before highways and bridges connected the Eastern Shore of Virginia to the rest of the world though, this was an isolated area and for generations families lived simple lives, depending on their farms and the sea to provide everything they needed.

One of the earliest settlements in the future colony of Virginia, Chincoteague was first settled by the English in the 17th century, starting what has become a unique culture and tradition of doing things that is unlike anything else you’ll find in the country. Shifting barrier islands, oyster catches and a salty breeze all define this part of the state and while it’s all undeniably Southern, there is an otherness to the counties along the coastline, but it’s that laid-back attitude that has been attracting visitors for decades.

Tens of thousands of people make the trek to Chincoteague every year to see the famous pony roundup, but that’s not the only way you can experience nature and the horses. Originally, the Chincoteague ponies arrived with the early English settlers and over the course of time, became free and wild horses. To raise money, the Volunteer Fire Department every year rounds up the ponies to check their health and to auction off the younger ones to the highest bidders. The auction is important not just to raise money for the fire department, but to also make sure that the herds don’t become too large. Several hundred horses roam along the Eastern Shore, descendants of the original herd that have unwittingly become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state. Even if you don’t visit during this busy weekend, there are always opportunities to explore the shore and even catch glimpse of a horse or two. Like millions who have come before me, I left this rural part of the state happy and content that I had found a small piece of paradise, and one that is close to home.

Chincoteague Virginia

Value of short trips

Even though this remarkable part of the country is just an easy three-hour drive from my house, I had never visited before and I can’t exactly tell you why. I bet I’m not alone in that phenomenon; I think it’s human nature to overlook those amazing places closest to us. But there’s a lot of value in taking these short trips. These adventures are easy to plan, they don’t take a lot of time or money but can offer the same joy and benefits as a longer trip, especially helping us be healthier people. Studies have shown a whole host of benefits including a lower risk of heart disease and coronary death in people who take annual vacations. No surprise there really, taking a vacation helps us relax and calm down in what is an increasingly stressful world. The act of travel itself is also healthy, I know I get much more exercise when I’m on the road than when I’m at home.

Chincoteague Virginia

There is also a lower percentage of depression amongst people who travel, so getting out there and seeing the world helps us be happier people too. Happier people are of course healthier people, so the act of travel helps us physically and mentally. Most Americans do not use all of their annual vacation days, a shocking statistic given how few we get in the first place. Trips don’t have to be long or expensive for you to realize health benefits, the simple act of taking time off and leaving the house, even on a short trip, yields tremendous benefits. My own trip to coastal Virginia was easy and fun, made possible thanks to how close the Enterprise location is to my house. I’m not alone in enjoying this convenience either – Enterprise is nearby with more than 5,800 offices located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population, so it’s easy to find a location. I prefer not to add wear and tear to my car no matter how long the trip is, so this neighborhood location is key to my own weekend adventures.

No matter where you go, travel is always a great idea whether it’s an around the world journey or an easy drive to a fun destination close to home. For some inspiration, please be sure to check out the Pursuits with Enterprise page.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

1 thought on “Joy of Discovering New Places Close to Home”

  1. We always take for granted the destinations closest to us! It’s always because it’s just there and we don’t really have to make an effort to go.

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