Lately I have been feeling that familiar itch known as wanderlust.
The need to get out, explore, see new cultures and perspectives has almost taken me over. In particular, I am itching to go to the South of France. I’m not really sure what the reason for this is but, really, it’s France. Looking around at the crowded city of San Francisco, I feel jaded and conflicted. I live in a place that people travel to. I live somewhere where others satisfy their own bouts of wanderlust.
That’s just the thing though, wanderlust is not so much about where you go—it’s more about that you are going at all.
In my wander dreams I am sitting on the patio of a quiet cafe sipping an espresso and eating freshly baked bread with churned butter. The weather is perfect, sunset even and the little Parisian city is all aglow. A light breeze blows through as I sit, write and watch the locals laughing and living. They seem to know that they are part of my fantasy and act quite pleased about it.
A siren goes by and I am jolted back to my current reality. I am writing this at a Starbucks in a Target. Instead of a perfectly brewed espresso, I am making my way through a watered down decaf blend and watching tired and cranky soccer moms attempting to pacify their screaming children with yet another cake pop.
Here’s the thing: I can’t just pick up and leave. Not right now. I have a job and a puppy with a broken leg and a carefully balanced financial portfolio (mostly due to said broken puppy). Exotic travel is just not in the cards for me right now. So, what is one to do? After doing a little research, I have put together a guide for satisfying your lust for wandering all while remaining in the comfort of your own reality. Bon Voyage!
Before you embark on one of these close-to-home journeys, I urge you to take the following steps to ensure that your vacation is as vacation-like as possible:
Make sure that you have at least a couple of hours of uninterrupted time.
Turn your phone off (your cell doesn’t work in France or Tuscany or Cape Town or wherever you have chosen to go, right?)
Bring a journal to record your experiences.
Take a camera—extra points for a selfie stick.
Guide to Traveling at Home:
1. Spend the day in a nearby town or neighborhood that you have never been to before.
Even if it’s just a new neighborhood in your own city, the point is to really explore it. Wander around. See what you stumble upon and discover while you are there.
If you find a wonderful bakery or cafe, stop in and have a bite or a drink. Linger. Take in the energy of your surroundings.
2. Go to a museum or art exhibit that you usually wouldn’t have visited.
There is something powerful about trying some thing new. I don’t know about you, but I always feel more open to trying things when I am on vacation. These things usually make for the best stories, whether they turn out to be awesome—or not.
Take yourself to see something unexpected and relish the feeling of your unchartered experience. Did you love it? Hate it? Learn something new about yourself or the world? Write it down in your journal.
3. Head to a beautiful park with headphones and a language recording or book.
I want to be in France so I would take a French magazine with a French-English dictionary and make my way through an article. I might also take a language learning CD and let the beautiful phrases roll off my tongue. If you are lucky enough to have a native-speaking friend, let them in on your journey and venture to the park together to exchange phrases.
4. Drive. Just drive.
Load up your car with a blanket, picnic and great tunes and just drive. See where you end up. Just keep going until you find yourself somewhere new and beautiful. If you live by the ocean, drive up the coast. If you are landlocked, drive up a mountain or along an expansive field. Listen to your music, let the wind blow through your hair and relish the moment of pure, sweet freedom.
5. Eat something questionable.
Say you want to be in India. Find an authentic Indian restaurant (if there are none in your area, try making a recipe). Instead of ordering the thing you have heard of and had before, try something brand new. Take out your journal and write about the experience like you are a famous food and travel journalist. Would you recommend the dish?
Each of these mini-adventures can be as quick and cost-effective as you need them to be.
I want you to feel like you can take a vacation no matter what, because that’s what I need right now and I know I am not alone in this.
I hope you find the adventure you are searching for and discover the new worlds that are right outside your door.
Author: Kat Smith
Editor: Alli Sarazen