Travel addicts are dreamers.
We long for the far away, picture ourselves on planes, and love to imagine strange surroundings. That is, until reality sets in and we look out the window only to see the same view we see every single day. For most of us, travel is a luxury we only get to indulge in a few times a year, but it just takes a simple shift of the mind to make the most of home.
When I returned to the UK and Ireland to explore more of my motherland, I set out to see it from the viewpoint of an outsider, and now I wonder why I hadn’t explored it much, much sooner. Below are a few things I’ve learned about how to be a traveler at home.
1. Commit to exploring just one area at a time.
Embrace slow travel and decide to discover only one city, region, or state, taking the time to peek inside all of its hidden corners. Spread this exploration out over months or even a year, using your weekends and days off to learn about different aspects of your chosen destination.
If you can’t go far, invest free time in getting to know more about your hometown – we often overlook new sides to the places we’re used to seeing every day.
2. Get into photography.
Developing your skills in seeing life’s moments, big and small, as photo opportunities will naturally motivate you towards getting out into the world. Buy yourself a good camera and go for a walk around your local neighbourhood or a park near home, and just shoot.
Start an Instagram account to showcase your pictures and follow photographers you admire to find some inspiration. Putting your creations out there will push you to head for pastures new to take fresh photos.
3. Use a map.
Maps are the tools at the very root of travel, and getting lost in one will reveal new places and possibilities. Take a look at a map of the area around your home and note anything you haven’t seen before. Pay particular attention to large patches of forest, parks, lakes, or coastline — prime locations for adventures in the wilderness.
I like to use paper maps for this, so that I can spread them out over a table or hang them on a wall and mark all the places I want to go. Having a visual representation of your intentions will encourage you to make them happen.
4. Experiment with food.
One of my personal philosophies is that food is the single greatest way to travel from anywhere; our taste buds are masters as transporting us across the globe. Over one meal you can be feeling the Middle Eastern desert heat with some falafel, then next you could be hearing mariachi music while chowing down on a taco.
Either try out new recipes at home (my preferred method because it helps us develop our skills in the kitchen) or try out different cuisines in restaurants across town.
5. Start a blog.
Even if it’s just for friends, family or yourself, a blog is an ideal way to document your exploration, and searching for stories for it will push you to find new adventures.
I’ve found exactly this with my own blog. I’m always on the lookout for ways to experience a place, because I need the unusual angles for my website. Having that motivation is like having new eyes; you begin to see things from an outside perspective. As a result, you’ll develop a new appreciation for the things you may have taken for granted in the past.
Become your city’s biggest fan.
6. Get active.
Sometimes we just need a change-up in physical activity to make us feel like we’re seeing a new side to a familiar place. If you’re used to walking, take up cycling and discover your home’s best bike routes. If you’ve never completed the hikes in your surroundings, make a list and work towards ticking them all off.
Physical exertion and travel go hand-in-hand. Conquering a challenge using our bodies not only keeps us healthy, but also allows us to see things differently and gives us that rush of adrenaline.
7. Stay curious.
The concept of travel is not solely pinned down to physical movement – it is a way of thinking and discovery in many shapes and forms. Whether you’re one or 1,000 miles away from your front door, you can have an experience that reveals new cultures and ways of life, which is the very essence of travel.
Keep your eyes open. Ask questions. Talk to people outside your circle. Take a different route for your usual morning walk. Become your city’s biggest fan. Welcome in new encounters around every corner, and show gratitude for the beautiful things in the place you call home.
Images via Gillian Stevens