Tonje Lilleås

Explore locally

I believe everyone should explore locally.

As a child I loved it when my parents took me for minibreaks and trips around our local community. I loved to see all the beautiful nature that was so close to our doorstep, visit new shops and places to eat. I enjoyed watching the landscapes roll by my window as we drove, listening to my parents talk about this and that. Even though we visited the same places more than once, I always found there was something new to discover.

Growing older I travelled further. The year I turned fifteen I went abroad with my friends to attend a summer school. We got to visit Paris, London, Isle of Wight and Bournemouth among other places. Coming from a small village in Norway we felt like true explorers. For some years I travelled every time I had the chance, always trying to explore new places. And even though I really enjoyed seeing new places, I soon found that I preferred packing my hiking gear and exploring local nature.

Deciding to explore locally

Since becoming an adult I have not followed the trend of travelling the world. In fact I haven’t been outside Scandinavia since 2012. It’s not that I don’t dream of visiting a lot of the amazing places that I’ve read about or seen pictures from. It’s just that I want those places to still be there when our grandkids, or even great great grandkids grow up as well. And if I am going to contribute to that being the truth, I can’t fly all over the world.

I have set a few rules for myself to make sure I do what I can to make sure the environment and nature don’t suffer because of our need to explore and experience.

1. I don’t use airplanes unless it’s an emergency

I can get to almost any kind of activity I’d like to fill my days with without stepping into an airplane. I prefer traveling by train whenever I can. Slow traveling gives me an opportunity to rest, listen to music or podcasts and just be. And trains and kids are a perfect match. We can’t keep flying all over the world, and I’ve decided that I can help reduce emissions by cutting my traveling by airplanes to a minimum.

2. I don’t have to see everything live

I dream of Alaska, Canada, Japan, Iceland, the Alps and New Zealand. But I don’t have to visit all those places to see them and know they are amazing. I have seen how polluted areas that become popular with tourists get. The first time I saw the blue smoke from the cruiseships covering the Geirangerfjord, I was horrified. This is a fjord on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We should really take better care if we want to be able to pass it on to our inheritors. So I feel it’s ok not to see everything with my own eyes. And I feel lucky that I’m able to see places through the eyes of locals that make great internet content.

3. I won’t contribute to the Instagram-hyping of locations

I see images on Instagram every day that makes me want to visit all the amazing places around the globe. Problem is that everyone else wants to go there too. And a very big amount of people actually do go somewhere just to be able to take that exact same image they saw on Instagram for themselves. I try to avoid the popular spots for two reasons; I don’t want to contribute to wearing them down and I don’t find it particularly creative.

Exploring locally makes me have to work harder and be more creative. I don’t compete with every other photographer, and I don’t go home with the same images as everyone else. There’s so many amazing locations out there to explore. I say let’s show more diversity in our images by exploring more locally. It will help both our creativity and to preserve the nature we love to shoot.

If you liked this post I would be very happy if you left a comment about how you explore locally down below! Make sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. New posts are published every other Wednesday. In the meantime make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter so you don’t miss out on my local explorations!


  1. Reply

    Randi Grethe Skotte

    January 31, 2019

    Veldig flott Tonje !! Gratulerer med flott webside !

    • Reply


      January 31, 2019

      Tusen takk! Så gøy at du liker det du ser!🤗


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