I could use a trip to Iceland. Or to Brazil. Or Italy or Japan. Thailand is about to start getting into tourist season in a few months — that would be nice. I’ve seen the Instagram posts and hear the stories of friends or family who seem to be making these sorts of trips all the time, and I’d like to experience some more of that myself.

There are ways to make trips like these without spending a whole lot of time and money. A couple of years back I spent around a week and a half in Nicaragua, spending only around $500 total (airfare included). Still, sometimes time and money aren’t on your side, and either $500 is still a lot of money for a struggling young family, or even just finding a week off seems impossible.

I’d recommend that people make time to travel whenever they can. My family moved overseas when I was three; my brother’s family moved from Thailand to the United States with their infant daughter, and they were certainly not rich. I knew a girl who paid for herself to backpack across Europe, and she didn’t spend a whole lot. It’s possible, but it’s definitely not always plausible.

However, that does not mean that you cannot enjoy the fruits of travel and exploration — especially in the United States. Not only can we freely travel across state lines and go from a desert to mountains to a beach in a single day of driving, but we even have an endless amount of attractions in our own backyards. The only people who can’t enjoy this are those without any days off — even then some of them only take an hour or so.

I currently live in Tampa, and this is a little easier here. I live within driving distances of world-class beaches, and there are a few national parks with some pretty cool attractions, including an alligator-infested swamp with catwalks hanging above them, or a long-running trail through the Florida wilderness. I’m only a few hours from endless outdoor activities throughout Florida, not to mention all the attractions that aren’t nearly as expensive as Disney World or equivalent theme parks.

But this isn’t only true in major cities like Tampa. In fact, most of the places I tend to enjoy exploring are a good drive away from the city. I’m in the process of moving to a small town in upstate New York, and during my visits there I’ve already begun exploring. It could be a small barn converted into a personal art gallery or a hiking trail that is relatively unknown — it could be a memorial site for a handful of veterans who served their country in the various wars of the United States. These things are waiting to be discovered, and I’ve found that they are everywhere. I’ve lived in Arkansas, Georgia, California and Florida, and all of them have endless corners to explore — some big and glamorous (the Golden Gate Bridge), and some smaller but profoundly refreshing to discover (a kayak rental on a random river in Georgia).

Of course, like everyone else it seems, I often fall into that familiar trap — not actually exploring these things until someone comes to visit. But why wait?

What’s near you?