One of the things I love most about traveling is that traveler mindset – where you feel limitless, want to explore everything, try new things, and meet new people. It’s an amazing feeling while out on the road, though I’ve found as soon as I get home it’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day routine that my carefree adventurer spirit gets lost. And while I love thinking about and planning upcoming trips, I’ve realized that sometimes I forget to cherish the present and appreciate the city that I live in. I imagine some of you feel the same, or maybe aren’t able to travel at the moment.
The following are ways to get into that traveler mindset without ever having to buy a plane ticket.
Be a tourist for a day.
Some of the funnest times I’ve had are days when I’ve pretended to be a tourist in my own town. I’m sure there are things you’ve always wanted to do or maybe have only done once. Make a list of these things and on your days off, start checking them off. When I lived in LA I once spent a day touring the city on a hop-on-hop-off bus. I learned so much and loved seeing the city from a new vantage point. Just push your ego aside, get in that carefree traveler mindset, grab your camera, and go exploring! You’ll see your city a new light and will have more respect for the tourists you see around town, since you know what it feels like to be one too.
Try to find the best local food.
When I’m traveling I love trying the dishes unique to each area. When I was in Thailand, I was always searching for the best pad thai. In Charleston, I had to try the shrimp and grits. In Paris I must have eaten my weight in baguettes and pastries, you get the idea. Whatever the local cuisine is in your area, try to find the best of it. Make it a point to do the research, find the hole-in-the-walls, the places off the beaten track. You’ll discover more of your city, gain local knowledge, and your friends will thank you when they come to visit.
Walking is my favorite form of transportation (time and weather permitting, of course). It really is one the best ways to see a city, as it allows you to get a feel for the people, the architecture, and the culture in an up close and personal way. I find that most people agree on this when traveling, though quickly jump back in their vehicles and forget about their feet once they’re back home. Try it out – take a day to just walk around your city and discover streets and stores you’ve never seen. Or next time you’re doing errands and they’re just a mile or two away, walk there. You’ll gain a new perspective, the exercise will give you endorphins, and the fresh air will invigorate you.
I love traveling by myself, as it gives ultimate freedom to do whatever you want and forces you outside of your comfort zone. When at home though, it’s almost shocking at how little most people will do alone. Try going to a movie, a restaurant, a museum or a concert alone and most likely, you won’t be disappointed. The first time I went to a concert alone I ended up making some friends from a different city who I’ve ended up going to more concerts with. Sure, it can feel a little awkward doing things alone in your own town, and there may be people who judge you – but who cares?! When someone judges you negatively it says more about them than it does about you. Just be the confident, awesome person you are and think of it as practice for when you take that solo backpacking trip you’ve always wanted to.
Leave your phone at home.
When you’re in a foreign country and you don’t have cell service, sure, it’s a little scary, but it also kind of feels amazing. It’s so liberating not to be tethered to a device that you want to check every few minutes. When you have some free time, try going to a cafe with a book or to a park with friends, just leave your phone at home. If you absolutely must have it with you, turn it off for a few hours. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels (after you get over the initial panic and withdrawal, of course).
Take a short road trip.
Look up places within a 2 or 3-hour radius from where you live and on a day off, pick one to drive to. Leave early in the morning and come back late at night. No need to spend the night anywhere, just have a fun day seeing new sights. Plus, who doesn’t love a road trip? Get snacks, blast some music, and really think of it as an adventure. I did this recently from NYC to Philly and once I got there couldn’t believe I was just 2 hours away from home. My friend and I had a fantastic day of trying new food, seeing historical sights, and singing out loud in the car – definitely more memorable than just your average day off!
Obviously a few of these are easier to do in larger cities or towns, but wherever you are, you can incorporate some of these traveler mentalities into your every day routines. It will make you appreciate your city in a new way and will also ease that constant sense of wanderlust and bring you to the present moment.
Travel on, and enjoy…