Wanderlust. It’s a serious condition. You’re not sure when it’s going to bite, but it always strikes with a vengeance. It gets under your skin, makes you fidgety, makes you feel like you’ve got to move right now. THIS MINUTE!
For a lucky few, they can satiate that itch at a moment’s notice, but for the majority of us, it’s not so easy. It requires a series of delicate manoeuvres – scrimping and saving, buttering your bosses up for leave approval, finding a decent length of time without a wedding or milestone celebration you’ve promised to be around for…
But the thing about wanderlust is that it just won’t abate until you’ve done something about it. So short of actually travelling, here are a few of my own tips for dealing with the travel bug when you’re stuck at home:
Start planning a trip
It is amazing how differently I feel when I have a flight booking in my Inbox or a road trip date written on the calendar. It’s a sudden liberation. I have something to count down to.
I have purpose – suddenly, work is about saving to travel and time is spent researching, scrapbooking ideas, calculating costs and just envisioning myself in these dream destinations.
Strangely, I get almost as much satisfaction out of planning a holiday as I do going on it. I’m in my element, my compass is firmly locked in place and I’m doing what I love – or working towards it, in any case.
Watch movies and read books set overseas
If you managed to watch the whole of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and not get wanderlust, you can’t have a travel bone in your body. In fact, what the heck are you doing on my blog?
You’d think that vicariously experiencing travel through books and movies would be depressing. But I find it inspiring.
Walter Mitty made me determined to visit Iceland. Before Sunset has me reminiscing of my various romantic adventures in gorgeous foreign cities. Hell, even The Killing Fields and Hotel Rwanda remind me that there are far corners of the globe I’ve yet to experience (is that weird?).
The Shadow of the Wind sends me right back into the Gothic heart of Barcelona. I get tingles down the spine when I read books like Heart of Darkness or The Year of Living Dangerously. And temporarily, these experiences immerse me in worlds I’ve explored or am yet to discover. And for a little while, I’m satiated.
Scrapbook your past holiday
The worst of your wanderlust often hits you when you’ve returned home after a long trip away. You get that strange air-headed feeling as if the trip never really happened.
Times like these, nothing makes me happier than to go through all my photos and create an album. It brings up all the memories you’ve forgotten and reminds you that it was real. You did explore Machu Picchu in the rain or brave the crazy maze of alleyways in Fez. It happened.
Be a tourist at home
In fact, this is the whole reason I started up a Melbourne-based blog; to learn about and appreciate my own city as much as I do others.
It’s such a common thing when you’re travelling to meet locals who have seen less of their own country than travellers have. I’ve always found it strange that people will travel miles out of their way to travel when they leave so many unexplored gems at home.
The fact is, it’s almost inevitable that tourists travel to your corner of the globe for some reason. Maybe it’s got incredible natural beauty. Or an unrivalled gastronomical scene. Are there hiking routes near you? Or a sporting event you’ve never given a chance?
Sometimes all it takes is one new experience to snap you out of your wanderlusting. It fires up all those parts of the brain that are craving stimulation and leaves you feeling totally content to be at home.
Hang out with tourists
This is one of those things that can be so hard to replicate at home. The fact is, the travel community is unique. You tend to see people are their carefree best. You meet people with likeminded interests, people who understand your deep desire to explore, to eschew the “settled” life. You don’t need to explain yourself.
Thankfully, these days it’s not that hard to immerse yourself in the travel community in your own home. There is undoubtedly a Couchsurfing group in your city, where endless events are arranged to meet newbies in your town.
You can always open up your home too – to couchsurfers or as an Airbnb. Or if you’re a total philistine, just head to the local hostel bar.
Learn a language
Learning a language is the first step towards truly understanding a culture. Not to mention you’ll feel suave and sophisticated practising your pronunciation.
This idea kinda fits into the travel planning/meeting new people categories too. Every city has group meet ups where you can practice whatever language you’re learning with a native speaker – and help them out with their English too.
It’ll also hype you up for whatever trip you’re going on and make the joy of arriving in that destination and finally getting to say those words you been practising in the privacy of your home to an actual human being all the more glorious!
Think about what you’ve got right now
One of the things I love most about travel is its ability to set you down right in the moment. Your senses are on high alert and you forget all about time, about tomorrows and yesterdays. About the things you should be doing.
But you don’t really have to travel overseas for that. With a bit of practice every day, you can learn to stop and sit still in your hometown, whether you’re commuting to work, staring out the window at a view, going on a walk.
It’s not as easy, sure. But if you can learn to do that at home, wouldn’t life be a hell of a lot peachier?
OK so all that aside, my last piece of advice is … why not just give in to the wanderlust? If you’re waiting to a catalyst, if your life’s become a little stale, if you’ve been thinking and dreaming of travel for years and you’re just putting it off for really no good reason at all…