If you love the high you get when you travel, you probably anxiously wait all year for your next vacation. You research, plan, talk about, and dream about it.
Then, after it’s over, you’re depressed, thinking about the fact that you only have this couple of weeks to travel in a year. You think about quitting your job for travelling, but maybe you love your job or you just aren’t the type that wants to be a nomad. Maybe you just want more of that feeling you get when you travel. The feeling of waking up somewhere new, seeing new things, eating new things, doing new things, be far away from your office and your everyday life (international data plans are expensive!)
When we’re at home, we tend to take things for granted. We don’t try to pack as many experiences in as we can when we travel – because we know we’ll always have tomorrow. But many of us never get around to doing this stuff. Tourists come to our country and see more famous sites or beautiful places in a month than we’ve seen in 10 years.
So, how do we tap that energy, the energy of tourists? That feeling of excitement that comes when we experience those new things and new places?
1. Make a precious weekend or day off
We treat vacation time like it’s valuable time that must be spent doing meaningful things. But on the weekends, a lot of us tend to just hang around at home, get stuff done, or do the same old things week in and week out.
We see the weekend as a time to relax, to catch up on housework and laundry, or to see friends. But can’t we do this stuff during the week, leaving us free to fully enjoy each weekend to its fullest? Give yourself something awesome to look forward to every month — not just once or twice a year. Start with just one weekend a month and go from there.
2. Be a tourist.
No one said you have to leave the country or even your own state to be a tourist. However, you might have to leave your own town (unless your hometown is NYC, SF, or some other big city).
Why not pick a place an hour or two away that looks interesting and go there? Learn something about the place. Visit a museum or landmark or beautiful sight (private beach, great hiking spot, etc). Get that traveler feeling you get when you’re in a new city somewhere and you hit the supermarket to stock up your Airbnb. Look up what to see and do, and where the best places are to get fresh fruits, veggies, or any special items the area is known for. Stop at a farmer’s market if they have one. Buy stuff you wouldn’t normally buy and cook something you wouldn’t normally cook. It’ll feel like you really are a tourist on vacation heading back to your rental apartment with your spoils.
3. Change your midweek routine.
Instead of eating at your favorite Thai restaurant or organic pizza joint every Thursday night, try something new. Choose a type of cuisine you normally don’t eat (Ethopian? Afghani? Korean?) or a type of venue you normally don’t frequent (a food truck gathering? A divey taco shop or funky noodle house?). Instead of running in the park every morning before work, try hitting a different spot even if it’s a bit farther. Take a yoga class in the park and meet new people. Go to a movie or a theater production midweek and get dressed up.
4. Turn your home into a vacation resort.
Love the cucumber water they serve at health spas? The pretty way they cut pineapples at that one Caribbean resort you spend every other summer at? The sheets at your favorite hotel? Recreate some of this stuff at home! Cut up some fancy fruit and chill some mint-cucumber-lime water in the fridge. Splurge on some 1000-count Egyptian cotton sheets (believe me, you won’t regret it!). Plan an evening where you listen to some of your favorite vacation-holiday music (salsa music that reminds you of your honeymoon in Latin American? A soundtrack from your road trip in New Zealand?) and nosh on/drink some stuff you haven’t had since you were last abroad.
5. Talk to strangers.
One of the biggest differences between our daily lives (especially as Americans who drive almost everywhere and use GPS and Yelp or Siri for whatever we need to find and wherever we need to go) and our vacation/travel lives is the amount of time we spend talking to strangers.
When we are traveling internationally, we most often don’t have regular use of our phones, a vast knowledge of what apps or websites to use to find stuff (if they even exist), or any real idea of how to find the best food, drinks, or vista points without talking to locals or consulting a Lonely Planet guide. A lot of us don’t like to wander around with our nose in a travel guidebook, so we result to — gasp! — talking to strangers.
You might chat up that nice restaurant or bar owner you met or the guy who rented you your Airbnb. Maybe get chatty with the tour guide who led you on a city day tour. These exchanges often lead to some of the best experiences and sometimes even to new friendships. But you don’t have to be in a foreign country to feel comfortable talking to strangers. Just try it!