Finances, job circumstances or family crises can all hold you back from travel. When your current life situation prevents you from planning a new international adventure, follow these guidelines to temporarily satisfy your wanderlust until you’re able to book the next plane ticket!
1. Walk around and get lost
Get out of your home, get out of your office and get lost. Walk around a part of your neighborhood you’ve never been to before. Walk through a nearby park. Walk along a river or an ocean or a row of trees. Take your time and wander with the simple intention of seeing something new, beautiful or interesting.
2. Get an adrenaline rush
One of the best aspects of traveling is experiencing the high that comes from taking a risk and challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone. You can achieve this same high wherever you are by planning an activity that pushes your boundaries and gives you butterflies.
Go skydiving, bungee jumping or parasailing. Or rent a kayak and shove off in your local harbor. Take a hike, snorkel or learn how to skateboard. Jump into a freezing lake. Camp underneath the stars for a weekend. Do something that gets your blood pumping and your heart pounding.
3. Start a conversation with a stranger
Chatting with strangers is commonplace during travel, but it’s easy to become closed off to new connections when you’re in familiar territory. Instead of assuming everyone you meet will have a boring back-story or similar preferences to you, open up to new people in the hope that they may have an interesting story to tell.
Start a conversation by asking about someone’s go-to restaurant, favorite outdoor space or most enriching travel experience near or far. You may develop a new friendship, gain a better appreciation of the place you live or just have a few minutes of pleasant interaction.
4. Design your own food tour
Eating different types of food is the easiest way to transport yourself somewhere else. Despite the top-notch burritos, Pad Thai or seafood you might have access to, you’re bound to become bored with your options eventually. Even the most delicious food can become lackluster if it’s the only kind you consume.
So create a food tour of your city. Rule out the places where you eat on a regular basis and head into unknown territory. There’s that Italian restaurant with the scallops and the Malaysian food cart on the corner…add them to the list. You can structure your tour with a theme—best tacos, most innovative ice cream flavors, most delicious dishes you can’t pronounce—or wing it. Either way, just make sure your taste buds have the chance to sample something fresh and different.
5. Take a day trip
Seek out an intriguing locale near you and visit it for the day via car, train or bus. Escaping from familiarity—even if only for ten hours—can give you the impression of being in another world. Whatever you do when you arrive—whether you sightsee, experiment with new foods, explore or relax—make sure it’s something different than what your average day consists of.
6. Learn a new language
Get that intimidating and exhilarating feeling of being entirely out of your element by learning a new language. Choose a language representative of the country you’d like to travel to next. Always wanted to visit China? Learn Mandarin. Curious about Brazil? Take up Portuguese.
You can download an app like Duolingo, sign up for online classes or take a course at a local university. Once you have a basic grasp of the language, search online for local conversation groups and arrange to meet and chat with some like-minded individuals.
7. Shake up the structure of your day
Travel leads us to the unexpected. You might plan to visit a fine arts museum and instead find yourself sampling nine flavors of macarons at a French bakery. You could be on your way to scope out a famous cathedral in Spain only to find yourself napping barefoot in the park twenty minutes later.
Recreate the spontaneity and randomness of travel by doing something out of the ordinary during your day. Visit the beach during winter just to feel the sand on your toes. Steal into a tiny café and order a drink you’ve never heard of. Wander through an art gallery that caught your eye. Leave space in your schedule to do things you didn’t plan for.
8. Do something luxurious
Even if you’re traveling on a budget, you’ve probably splurged on at least one or two items or activities to enhance your experience in a new place. There’s no reason you shouldn’t occasionally do the same thing at home. Spend a little extra money or time to create an experience for yourself that feels indulgent and special.
Buy a bottle of nice wine and share it with friends as you watch the sunset. Treat yourself to a spa day. Surf instead of lifting weights at the gym. Go to a cheese shop and select all your favorite kinds to eat for dinner.
9. Host a foreigner
If you can’t be a guest in someone else’s country, make friends with a guest in yours. Host some travelers for a short stay via Couchsurfing or Airbnb. Or host a foreigner long-term with a church-affiliated organization or an academic exchange program.
Ask about your guest’s home country, traditions, customs and lifestyle. Cook together and swap recipes. Play tour guide and show your guest all the best parts of your city. Viewing your home with the eyes of a traveler will help you to see novelty in the familiarity around you. Plus, you may just score a free invitation to visit a new country next time you hit the road.
Any other tips for temporarily curing that pesky, persistent wanderlust? Is anyone else itching to travel right now besides me? If so, where? Do tell!
I originally published this article here on the Huffington Post.