For many – and when I say many, I mean most – people, traveling on the regular is, unfortunately, not an attainable reality. What’s more often the norm is people traveling a couple times a year if they’re fortunate enough to, and that typically is what sustains them until their next big adventure. However, for those with an especially nasty case of the travel bug, it is often difficult to fight off that feeling of needing to spend your life savings and booking that ticket already – the next getaway often feels too irresistible to hold off for – because we crave that wild adventure already.
However, when travel is too far in advance to get you excited with planning and the mere idea of how far away your trip gets you more down than uplifted, then it’s time to stave off that wanderlust by other more immediately tangible means. Below I have outlined several things I personally resort to when travel is not close enough on the horizon for me to start planning delightfully detailed itineraries for.
I hope these ideas can inspire you to get busy living a life of travel while temporarily staying planted!
LEARN A LANGUAGE
One of my favorite aspects about travel is the interaction it allows me to have with people of varying cultures and backgrounds. I enjoy taking in all the details of my new destination, and that includes better understanding how its people choose to dress, eat, socialize and shop, among other things. For me, this is one of the best ways I can distance myself from the stereotypical tourist bracket and attempt to better and more closely experience a new culture. The reason being that a very integral part of culture that should never be overlooked, of course, is language. So, when I am feeling my typical wanderlust-y self (but for a very far in advance trip) I typically resort to teaching myself languages.
Learning a language allows you to more authentically engage with another culture. And if you say to yourself, well, I don’t really talk to locals when I’m traveling anyway, so why would I even bother going to all the trouble? Well, this engagement can be both direct and indirect. Because, by knowing another language you therefore familiarize yourself with the signs, menus, you can hear passersby intimately conversing. It allows you in on many little nuanced things those without knowledge of the language simply miss out on, which is a shame, but it’s of course to be expected and happens to even the most language inclined among us since of course with over 7,000 living languages in the world, we can’t know them all.
However, if you have a favorite part of the world or somewhere you’re heading in the upcoming weeks/months/years, why not create a fun challenge for yourself of learning a language? Not only will it facilitate your time abroad, but while you’re still at home you can get all excited about your trips through my next tip, which is to follow bloggers (which now you can in the language you’re learning, too!)…
This one is a no-brainer since it’s something I know you do already, since you’re here reading this blog aren’t you?
Therefore, you already know that a way to immerse yourself in travel while not traveling is through reading about it, watching it, looking at pictures of it. Using any of a number of resources, really, you can easily access an abundance of new material daily, which allows you to travel vicariously through the people creating the content you’re enjoying!
It’s a great option to take advantage of since it is available in a way that simply wasn’t even possible ten years ago!
The only advice I have is to not get jealous or depressed, and if you find yourself heading down that path – change course. Do something else. It’s important to not get swept away by jealous feelings, but to instead take the best of all the resources available and experiment to see what reaps you the most enjoyment. Find a less flashy travel blogger to follow, possibly. Find someone who doesn’t put your self-worth down as you watch or scroll.
Travel documentaries are a great way around this conundrum, since it is on the more educational side! But for anything, just make sure to ask yourself what precisely you’re learning from a source. If it’s only hearing complaints and seeing people show off – which unfortunately a lot of the travel industry is revolved around right now – then recognize that it’s time to move on. Instead, choose to follow authentic content creators that you feel are relatable, and try to learn as much as you can from them.
MAP IT OUT
It is simply astounding how little people know about geography. It surpasses not knowing state capitals to simply not knowing what country belongs on what continent even! Portugal in Asia? Boston in Europe? England touching France? These are just some major flubs I have recently heard, and I’m sure there are much worse! But geography knowledge – despite how little time is dedicated to the subject in American high school – is crucially important in my eyes, especially if travel is something you are a fan of. Knowledge on it shows dedication, education and interest, and it’s something highly useful.
It not only helps you when you’re out and about asking for directions from a local, but it’s even helpful before your trip when making your initial plans. You’ll know what countries are neighboring your destination, what some practical route options are, and generally allows you to plan in a more strategic way. You will know what cities are not to be missed and where some important sites are, which is beneficial to know.
And planning aside, having a decent grasp on geography makes you a more well-rounded person, since you will at the very least have a baseline idea of where something newsworthy is happening in the world.
Another very achievable way to literally get a taste for a new culture you’re intrigued on traveling to is by experimenting with new-to-you recipes from said culture! I say this is highly attainable since we all must eat. And with a possible three meals a day? (I say “possible” since I usually only ever eat two, but that’s just me!) Those are three opportunities for you to get crafty in the kitchen. Dabble in new dishes. Experiment with ingredients. You get the point!
It’s a fantastic and authentic way to learn about another country and the traditions of its people and additionally, a great way to get you out of a food rut! It’s incredible how limited some grocery stores can be – mostly catering to very Western type foods – so a great way to get away from that is to simply see all the other options available.
A start is to peruse the “ethnic” food aisles. There you can likely find some great sauces that will be sure to spice up your everyday meals without completely overcomplicating things. However, an even better way is to go to the smaller more independently run markets, where they likely have many more ingredients for you to play around with. Going into a European or Asian market, for example, provides a plethora of new foods you may very well have never seen since they simply are not mainstream. With more options, you can better prepare full meals and simply see the types of foods people from different parts of the world cook with.
Experimenting with new, more off the beaten path cuisines is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in cultures you wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience. Additionally, it expands your culinary knowledge and makes for some interesting conversation with friends and family, too, if you decide to share your latest creations!
So, whether it’s Poland or Tanzania you’ve been itching for, do yourself a favor and research some of the country’s most popular dishes! One of the best ways to experience a culture is through its food, and since you can do so while at home? Why not? And finding that new favorite recipe to add to the rotation while you’re at it? An added bonus.
This one is self-explanatory, but it’s one of my favorite ways to travel without ever leaving home!
Last year I finished 55 books as part of completing the book-a-week challenge I’d been meaning to cross off my bucket list for a while now, and a fair amount of those were about travel.
I say, “about travel” since I usually don’t read guidebooks casually (for me they serve as last minute resources before leaving for a trip), but I do read other books that relate to the topic of travel – nonfiction and fiction alike! About expats. About travel writers. About whimsical stories set in real destinations. I love it all as an avid reader, since some of the most talented writers can completely transport me to the destination at hand, which is always magical.
How mind-boggling is it when you travel to an exciting, new destination you’ve been madly researching about and waiting to visit for seemingly ages and you meet a local who hasn’t been to fill in the blank highly historical place??
I remember when I was in London for the first time the taxi driver who took us to our hotel had told us he had never been to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. Okay, fair enough. Shocking. But fair enough. It’s known to be busy. But not to any of the four or so museums I had rattled off to him when he asked where I was planning on visiting, either? Needless to say, I was surprised.
But I shouldn’t have been since I’ve been guilty myself. On a *slightly* lesser scale due to the fact that I don’t live in lovely London town, but nonetheless I was still guilty of taking my town for granted. It took me twenty years to visit my local mission (one of the famous 21 Californian missions) when it’s roughly a ten-minute walk from my home.
It’s easy to take the place you’re living in for granted, and sometimes it takes seeing an often-overlooked local site through the eyes of a tourist in order to better appreciate it. Therefore, I do highly encourage you to research away at some of the local attractions in your own neck of the woods. Maybe even some day trips or weekend getaways, too.
DECORATE WITH MEMORIES
It’s kind of funny how technology works sometimes. In a time when the average person is taking more pictures than ever before, we’re at the same time displaying them less and less. What used to be treasured photos carefully placed in hand-selected photo albums or painstakingly scrap-booked and/or placed in frames, are now a lot of times simply archived on the likes of Instagram or just our camera roll on our smart phones.
This is truly a shame as we ought to expand the enjoyment we get from our travel memories. Sure, we look at them every now and again scrolling. But it’s not the same sort of happiness as framing that especially beautiful photo on your wall. That wall you pass every day. Where your memories are truly working for you! Not only decorating for you but also reminding you of your happiest days on the daily.
Additionally, if you’re on the craftier side, another idea is to paint destinations you’ve been to! Paint, sketch, make a mod podge collage of pictures or even sew the route you took onto a map of a road trip you went on! Really, your options are essentially limitless, and they only extend the life of your travels by being something you continue to enjoy through your crafts.
Something else that I highly recommend but might have to wait until possibly your next trip if you haven’t been doing so already is to consider investing in art, décor and other longer lasting knickknacks instead of the more conventional pens, t-shirts, etc. as your souvenirs. This way, when you’re not traveling they serve as beautiful mementos.