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Anyone else going stir-crazy?
For me, it started the minute I cancelled my trip to Zion National Park. There’s something about having a trip on the calendar to look forward to that can make tough times easier to get through — and goodness knows right now falls under the umbrella of tough times.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to satisfy my wanderlust when I can’t travel (and even my own city’s attractions are closed up for the moment). Seems like every other travel blogger is sharing advice about watching Netflix travel shows or virtually exploring museums, but those are passive ways of exploration rather than hands-on sightDOING. Planning travel, or watching someone else travel, does nothing to cure my itchy feet right now. And apparently I’m an impatient person, especially when there’s extra stress in my life.
So what’s a girl to do when actual travel isn’t an option? I do the best I can to create a sense of discovery at home…and you know what? It works pretty well. While it’s impossible to entirely substitute these for an actual trip, these really do help keep wanderlust cravings at bay in-between trips.
Even when you think you know your city inside and out, there’s probably something new to discover. Geocaching is a fun way to explore because when you’re looking for small hidden items, you’re more likely to actively observe what’s around you. You’re basically forced to slow down and look at things from a new angle.
There are thousands of geocaches in any given city, so there should be plenty of options in safe, uncrowded, outdoor places that you can responsibly access right now. I’d find a park on a side of town you’ve never been before as an excuse to visit somewhere new. You never know when you might fall in love with a neighborhood and want to go back to explore when everywhere’s back and open for business.
Check out my geocaching guide for beginners if you don’t know how to get started!
Learn a New Language
Communicating in another language is one of the most rewarding ways to interact with your destination, but it takes lots of time and lots of practice. Might as well get started early! I know there are tons of free apps and software (lots of people swear by the free app Duolingo but I prefer Mango), but to step it up a notch, sign up for one-on-one Skype lessons instead.
Working with a real person is way more effective since you’ll have to think on your feet in a true conversational manner. It’s also a great way to still take part in a cultural exchange; I’ve taken Spanish classes with Ixchel and Utatlan and you can chat with your teacher about what life is like in Guatemala right now as part of your lessons (and vice versa). You’re also helping to keep someone employed when they otherwise might have lost all their in-person students. Win-win for everyone.
If your classes inspire you to later travel and study in person, read my guide on how to choose a Spanish school in Guatemala.
Prepare a Foreign Feast
I know so many people who will set aside four hours for a cooking class abroad but then complain about taking more than 30 minutes to make dinner. Guess what…I bet you have free time now, so pick an international cuisine to learn more about!
Start with a Youtube channel or cookbook, hit your local ethnic grocery store (hint: they’re cheaper and better stocked than big box supermarkets anyway), wash your hands, and start cooking. Make it a three-course meal and add a drink for good measure. Cooking can be very therapeutic!
Right now I’m addicted to Manjula’s Kitchen, which is all about Indian food (primarily northern India). Since I’m headed to Rajasthan in November, it’s a fun introduction to flavors and ingredients.
Teach Yourself Photography
Photos are becoming more and more popular as a part of travel (and sometimes as the entire reason to travel, in an Instagram age).
Take a Hike
Nature tourism is my favorite type of travel and I’m positive there’s somewhere near you that’s beautiful and unvisited. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve hiked somewhere without running into another person, which makes it a great low-risk activity this time of year.
The trick to hiking in solitude formal facilities — like a national forest trail instead of a national park. People tend to avoid trails that don’t also come with visitor’s centers and restrooms, but as long as you’ve prepared in advance with maps, water, and gear, you should be okay.
Combine this with camping (or glamping) for a mini-vacation.
Sign Up for Periscope
Periscope is a new live video streaming app (well, not so new unless you’re behind the times like I am). It’s cooler than uploaded videos because you can actually comment on and ask questions while the user is streaming the video. Curious what’s just beyond the frame? Ask them to capture something a little to the left. Have a question for them to ask the tour guide they’re filming? Go ahead, ask away!
It’s not the same as being somewhere new, but it’s not half bad. There’s two great ways to get started: follow your favorite personalities OR start searching by geotag. Get a feel for where you’re headed before you go there or simply daydream about places on your bucket list.
Embrace Your Spirit of Adventure
Why is it that we try crazy things on vacation but not at home? I’ve gone whitewater rafting all over the world, but I didn’t bother to sign up for the local version until this summer. My husband tried fencing in the Netherlands before going down the street. That’s pretty backwards, if you ask me.
Break free from your routine and carve out a Saturday to try something new. You’d be amazed how often there are deals on Groupon for activities you didn’t even know existed in your home city and some organizations let you try their group/class out for free. Start googling for capoiera workouts, sushi-rolling courses, or weaving classes.
Change your mindset, not your destination.
Host a Visitor
Couchsurfing isn’t just for a free place to sleep (or to return the favor). It’s an entire community of travelers who are passionate about meeting other people. Local hosts are usually more than a roommate: they provide local insight, show visitors around, or prepare a meal.
Guess what? You can participate even if you don’t want someone sleeping on your couch or in your guestroom. Create a profile and offer to meet up with travelers passing through your city. Show off something that interests you, like a favorite coffeeshop or a walk past street art. One of the interesting parts of travel is cultural exchange, and you can still participate when other people come to you.
It’s easy to go stir-crazy at home, but that doesn’t have to be the case!
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Tell Me About a Time You Suffered from Wanderlust. What did you do to cure it?
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Do you know someone who suffers from wanderlust? Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to help them out. It’s not a cure, but treating the symptoms can help!
14 thoughts on “Curing an Insatiable Case of Wanderlust”
Great article! We struggle with the same thing but in reverse. We have a house but we travel sooo much (and now even more for our blog), we are neglecting it and talking about downsizing significantly. We’ll have to try periscope. We recently signed up BeWelcome which is very similar to couchsurfing, but with cash involved.
Tom and Sheila
@Tom and Sheila, Thanks for the BeWelcome tip. I’ve never heard of it before, but it sounds like a cool option!
We have signed up for Periscope, but haven’t used it. It’s a little intimidating to post your first live video! But hopefully we get our first video up this year as well!
@Tarah, I was so intimidated also! In fact, I’ve done 3 or 4 now and it’s still a little scary. Good luck with your first one!
Honestly I cure my wanderlust by traveling more. But sometimes, I use air bnb or sublet my apartment.
@Olga, I totally hear you on that one. Sounds like you’ve got a good arrangement, though.
Agree on the homeowner side. After we bought ours, an upper fixer, we spent 2 years remodeling. No travel for us these years, unless the numerous almost daily trips to HomeDepot count, and our sense of exotism were the names of the tiles and paint colors… But now we are back on track, traveling as before (more or less – gotta enjoy the house now!). Same here, trying to learn Spanish and Duolingo is indeed a cool tool. Periscope – sign up, but haven’t used it yet – need WIFI or 3G to make it work, need to figure this out. Other 2016 plans: more travel and learning a new sport – I started to learn kitesurfing last year, need to do more hours on the water. Happy 2016 in any case!
@Patricia, You are more dedicated than I am (I’m not sure I could do 2 years of no travel!). Sounds like some awesome plans for 2016 and happy travels 🙂
I love Periscope. I’ve only streamed a few time so I guess that make me more of a voyeur. Do do like seeing people going about and doing things in locales where I have not been yet.
I might have to try the geocaching. Sounds fun and engaging.
I hosted an exchange student from Rome in my home. It is such a wonderful experience. Then a year and a half later we spent time with her and her family in Rome. This was our second time in the city and it was quite a different experience than the first.
Good luck with the new home!!
@Susan, One of my family member’s hosted an exchange student over the summer and also said it was a great experience. Must be something to it!
Great tips! I’m currently stuck at home, not entirely sure when my next trip will be so will keep these in mind!
@Nikki, Good luck! The not knowing where the next trip is is always the hardest part for me. I can wait months as long as I have the anticipation building.
Hey Becky, good luck with your new home purchase! One huge thing for travel addict to consider is buying a home that you can “exchange”. Even if we move to something smaller, we’ll keep that as a factor. We’ve arranged 13 home exchanges so far in various parts of the world and we really love it. This year we had a month in Edinburgh, Scotland, 3 weeks in Arizona and a week in Nevada. Next year Sweden and maybe France, then several months in Australia in 2017. You can find our stories about various exchanges and pro/cons on our blog. Makes the lodging (and sometimes car rental) budget go a lot further with all the comfies of home. Wish I’d known about this when I bought my first home. Good luck! Sheila
@Sheila, Great info on the home exchange and definitely something to keep in mind.