learn, unsolicited travel how-to's

How to suppress wanderlust when you must

Our world map dining room
Our world map dining room
It sounds terrible, I know. Why would you even click on such a title? Well, because all of us have things that delay travel–obligations, full-time jobs, family dependence, financial constraints, passport or visa issues, life… At some point, for some reason, we all have to sit still for a bit, and when you must: try these tips on how to not scratch the itch.

From a travel writer who took a travel editor job that somehow put my travel on hold, these tricks might just calm your anxiety or at least divert you from any rash decisions for a bit. They may even help you give where you are a chance.

  1. Embrace the staycation. I know it feels like you’re selling out. You wrote a staycation piece about a place you didn’t even live to inspire locals to see all you saw in their home. Find that hidden beauty in yours. Seek out the unknown, or finally try the very well known. There’s something in that city you haven’t done yet and you can explore without packing, going through security, spending a fortune, or sleeping in communal sheets for once.
  2. Make an adventure of anything. This goes beyond a staycation; this is about your attitude. With my most recent move, I’ve found every time I’m lost is a time I’ll never forget directions again, and every time I find a parking spot, I’m going to find something near there to do or go home. Practice being up for anything — it’s the best possible way to travel and will change how you live at home. If your park day’s rained out, take cover in a restaurant or cafe you’ve never tried. If you don’t know anyone, take a run or find a bench to read on. You never know what you’ll discover, but it will be more than if you sat at home watching TV.
    Where we're from

  3. Get bigger maps. Hell, set that beachy screensaver. Whatever it takes to carry you away from where you are — buy, post, hang or frame it. You have a billion photos from wherever you’ve been — print them! You love maps or globes or skylines or sunsets — surround yourself with them even from here. We bring photos of the people we love on our travels, tucked in journals or wallets so we can feed a longing. Now you miss the travels, so hold them close or display them visually. There’s no question when you enter our home where we each moved here from…and likewise, no question that we’re not done moving when you see our map.
  4. Let yourself be inspired. You may be used to instilling the inspiration, but any true traveler knows there’s always more to learn. Dive into other travelers’ books, blogs, sites, mags, Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown…I know you want to be telling the stories, but feel these, learn from these. That’s what they’re told for as you know. And ideas will spring up that may not have occurred to you otherwise. That secluded island bar you found, the secret bakery in an Italian alleyway, those gardens no guidebook had covered…someone’s sharing similar secrets for your next trip. Read, watch, follow, listen.
  5. Take this time to plan. I know, I know. You fly by the seat of your pants and have the best stories from the situations you went into blind. But at least make a wish list, get a sense of where you have left to go and what you don’t want to miss. Study that language you love but put off learning; play the CD when you’re in the car or on public transit or working out. That will truly carry you away.

Most of all…push yourself to be open to the concept of home. I know roots aren’t a wanderer’s thing and investments or commitments make you gag, but there’s something about these novelties that a million other people have found meaning in. Let people in; go back to the same restaurant; develop a laundry lady or deli guy. They may know someone who knows someone whose foreign couch has your name on it.

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