It’s been exactly 21 days since I returned home from Singapore.
That’s 21 days since I’ve been in an airplane.
And I’m OK with that.
See, I love to travel. I love seeing something different — the cobblestone streets in London, the department store food courts in Tokyo, the stunning sunsets over the endless surf in Malpais in Costa Rica — but there’s nothing like being at home.
I realize I’m lucky to live in a place considered to be a coveted destination for travelers. I mean, look around. I’ve got some of the best beaches, hiking trails, restaurants and shopping in the world just a few minutes away.
It’s easy to get bored with your surroundings, even in Hawai‘i, but that’s true no matter where you live. You want a chance of scenery. You want snow, you want skyscrapers, you want casinos! But I find there’s so much to do wherever you are. There are so many restaurants to try, trails to hike, boutiques to wander through, places you never knew existed — and you’ve lived here your whole life!
Hawai‘i is such a magical place. There are ranches and farms that you can tour. There are charming boutiques filled with jewelry, bags and apparel made by talented local designers. There are all sorts of restaurants and cafes serving innovative dishes using the bounty of local ingredients grown here. And the natural beauty has no bounds, with long stretches of sandy beaches, stunning coastlines, lush rainforests, and the kind of sunrises and sunsets photographers dream about.
Why travel anywhere else?
When I started working at the newspaper, I met a few young coworkers who, like me, didn’t have kids or mortgages. So we traveled. We would go on weekend jaunts to the Neighbor Islands, checking out hole-in-the-wall eateries, hiking new trails, or just playing tourist at the hotel. (Don’t Lava Flows taste so much better on vacation?)
I realized then that there’s a lot to see, do and eat in my home state. And there are a lot of neighborhoods I haven’t even explored yet.
I’ve been really lucky with my work as a writer. I’ve been able to — sometimes forced to! — travel within the state for stories. I’ve walked through a noodle factory, visited an aquaponics farm, hiked through a forest filled with native ‘elepaio (monarch flycatcher), followed a Hawaiian Electric meter reader on his rounds through Pearl City, even hitched a ride aboard the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa.
And from that experience, I’ve decided to keep exploring.
For my husband’s birthday, we hiked and fished on Moloka‘i. Right after my trip to Okinawa, I hopped on a plane to Maui and toured the vineyards at ‘Ulupalakua Ranch. The other day my mom and I drove to Waipahu and ate at several restaurants, including the new Honolulu Kitchen — fried manapua! — and the old-school bento-ya Kay’s Bento.
Don’t get me wrong: I have a long list of places in the world I want to visit — Italy, Iceland, New Zealand — and I’m almost always down for a trip anywhere.
But I don’t need a passport or even an airline ticket to fulfill my wanderlust.
I just jump in my car and go somewhere new. Because traveling, to me, is about experiencing. And there’s a lot to experience right here at home.