As you know, we’re not really fans of short, expensive vacations. Our preferred method of recharging is to disappear from home into fantastic, faraway places for months at a time, exercising our minds and keeping our wallets full with an enjoyable amount of freelance work along the way.

Each time we leave our home state of Florida for a while, we find excitement everywhere we look — “Florida sucks” becomes our daily mantra. And yet, Florida is the second-most visited state in our country. Is everyone else just wrong? Or is there something messed up about the way we’re looking at the place we call home?

The Hawaii Treatment

Several years ago, out of boredom and curiosity, we packed up and moved to Hawaii for half a year without having ever set foot in the state. Because we were there for such an extended period of time, we set up what you might consider a pretty normal life. We had a no-frills apartment and didn’t spend much of anything on typical “vacation” stuff like entertainment.

Despite this, we found ourselves enamored with the state, and we took pleasure in exploring something completely new almost every single day. We actually stuck a handwritten list of places we wanted to go and things we wanted to try on our refrigerator, and we referenced it regularly.

Photo of our handwritten refrigerator list
Every time we heard about some cool spot on the island, we added it to our list.

A lot of the fun we had in Hawaii really just amounted to driving (or biking) around until we ran into something interesting, and then getting out and exploring it. Some nights we just went for a walk into town, but without fail, we always found something to climb, swim to, or just stare at and appreciate.

Photo of starry night sky in Hawaii
I snapped this shot when we randomly hopped out of the car for a breath of fresh air in front of the US Army’s Pōhakuloa Training Area on the way home one night — not a tourist destination by any stretch. When was the last time you just found a quiet spot to look up at the stars? If you want some motivation to do so from time to time, you can grab a print of this photo to remind you.

Reflecting on our experiences in Hawaii, we often wonder why we feel so bored at home sometimes. Florida has plenty to offer, and so does just about any place. For example, in the United States, there are over 400 National Park Service units, along with over 8,000 state park sites to choose from. They’re everywhere! And they don’t cost much (or sometimes anything) to visit. So why shouldn’t you give your home state “The Hawaii Treatment” and explore something new every week?

Take the Staycation Challenge with Us

For the moment, we’re back in Florida, working part-time and finishing up saving toward our long-term financial goal. But this time, we want to do things a little differently and appreciate what we’ve taken for granted in the past.

Photo of Lauren in snorkeling gear at Ginnie Springs
I have no idea why it’s been over a decade since we went snorkeling at Ginnie Springs, which is less than an hour from our house.

Over the next six months or so, you’ll probably see a few of Florida’s hidden gems show up over on the Destinations page. You can expect to see more images of our home state’s natural beauty on our Instagram, too. Feel free to follow along. As we learn to fall in love with where we live, maybe our photos and stories can remind you to get out and enjoy your own local scene too. You shouldn’t have to travel far to enjoy life every day.

Here’s the start of our new “refrigerator list” for our local area and state as a whole. It includes a few spots we’ve been in the past along with a bunch of undiscovered frontiers. What will you put on yours?

I’m sure we’ll find plenty more to add as time goes on. Have fun out there!

— Steven

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