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Nourishing Your Wanderlust from Home: The Art of Exploring Where You Are

Usually, when you think of indulging your sense of wanderlust, it involves going away somewhere, whether that means hitting the road for a few days, flying to another part of the country, or venturing abroad. However, for any number of reasons, this can be impractical or even impossible—a lesson that has never been so apparent as it is in 2020. 

Maybe the cost is prohibitive, or your job or familial situation makes travel difficult. Or perhaps there is a looming societal emergency that makes traveling dangerous or forbidden (and I’m sure you know what I’m referring to). Whatever the case, you’ve still got a travel itch that needs to be scratched. Your wanderlust must be fed. The solution—exploring where you are.

Rediscovering Your Own Home

The idea of “traveling” without going anywhere might seem counterintuitive at first glance, but upon closer examination, you’ll find that it delivers a wealth of experience. 

When you give your hometown the tourist treatment, you provide yourself the opportunity to see it from a new perspective. You find new things to appreciate about where you are and rediscover enjoyable qualities that you might have forgotten. Perhaps most importantly, it allows you to exercise your travel muscle before it atrophies.

But getting the most out of your staycation isn’t quite as straightforward as more traditional travel tends to be. If you’re in Paris or Bangkok or Mexico City, all you need to do is walk outside and the adventure is there. But do the same thing at home and you’ll feel, well, right at home, which is exactly the opposite of your intention. 

To that end, let’s take a look at a few ways you can make the most of your reduced-radius exploration.

Do your research.

Just as you would before exploring any other destination, you’ve got to do your research. You might think that you know everything worth knowing about your hometown, but if you start looking into its history and quirks, you’re sure to find something intriguing.

Once you’ve found something of interest, follow where this new information leads. Maybe that means exploring some historic parts of your city or town. Or maybe it means visiting some specific site that you were hitherto unaware of. Whatever the case, so some digging, learn something new and interesting, the go check it out.

What would tourists do?

No matter where you happen to hail from, there’s almost certainly some highly touristic activity that you’ve never even considered doing. I’ve met Parisians who have never been up the Eiffel Tower. People from Seattle who have never been through the underground tunnels. Egyptians who would never dream of touring the pyramids. Sound familiar? Whatever the big attraction is where you are, now is the time to see it.

Under normal circumstances, these touristy engagements are the last thing you would do but think of how many fun activities of this sort can be when you’re far from home. That same enjoyment can be derived from your own local’s tourist hotspots, and you’ve likely never even given them a chance merely because they’re so familiar.

So drop your assumptions and check out your local tourist attractions. You just might learn why people who aren’t from your hometown find them so interesting.

Pick a date.

Part of what makes travel so exciting is knowing that you’ve set aside time for your adventure, then watching the date approach. It can be difficult to get this same enjoyment out of your staycation because you assume that you’ll get around to it at some point. Only you never do.

Open your calendar and set a date for your home-adjacent jaunt. Block it off so that you’ll have a concrete time to take off work and other responsibilities, and treat it like you would any trip abroad.

What’s in the (wider) neighborhood?

You might not be able to go far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go anywhere at all. Chances are there’s someplace close to home that offers something interesting, or at the very least something different.

Are there any towns nearby that you’ve never gotten around to visiting? Or if you live in the suburbs, maybe it’s time for a visit to the city? And chances are that within an hour’s drive there’s some form of outdoor space where you can romp and get a bit of fresh air.

Book a room.

It might seem like a silly idea to stay in a hotel in the same town where your home already happens to be, but this is a great way to break your routine and enjoy a change of setting.

Check into a hotel in a part of town you don’t usually frequent. Or head to a rural resort or hotel in a nearby town to put even more distance between you and your day to day life. And this might be a good opportunity to splurge. Remember that you’re saving a lot of money on airfare and other expenses.

Take yourself on a photo tour.

Arm yourself with a camera and spend a day (or days) exploring different parts of town to snap some quality photos. Take our time and be creative with it. This will not only get you out and exploring, but chances are that you’ll recognize a lot of beauty scattered about your hometown that you’ve never allowed yourself to notice before. 

There is an undeniable special thrill that comes with jetting off to some far-flung destination, but when that isn’t doable, your wanderlust needn’t starve. By finding opportunities for inspiration and exploration closer to home, you’ll discover a new appreciation for where you live. And when you finally get the chance to venture abroad once again, the journey will be all the more exciting. 

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