Those of us with wanderlust are born with the insatiable desire to move, engage in new ventures and experience unfamiliar territory coursing through our veins. Some of us are born vagabonds always waiting for the next big adventure while the yearning to leave one’s current locale ebbs so fervently it causes the spirit to ache. I know this to be true. I too am a wanderlusting nomad. And I don’t necessarily want to leave because I don’t like where I am but because there is a vast and fucking beautiful world out there and it consistently beckons me forward. Shouting adieu to the hometown when the the wanderlust kicks in (as it does at least every few months) isn’t always an option and I have to seek other ways to soothe the wanderlust when it emerges. So here I am offering my tips to ease the symptoms of wanderlust when it creeps into your soul and you’re too broke or otherwise too tied down by life to get up and go.
IF YOU ENJOY MEETING NEW PEOPLE…
Talk to strangers.
Yes, I know we were all taught to not talk to strangers, but now that we’re adults and not on an episode of the X-Files (best 90’s show ever!)… sometimes it’s okay to engage in conversations with people you don’t know. Just go to a place where there are a lot of people, approach someone, and start talking. Coffeeshops, downtown spaces, bars, and fancy hotel lobbies are all great places to meet new folks. I know, it seems like a difficult thing to do, but if it really makes you nervous, pretend to be a tourist and ask for recommendations. You can also check out a blog post I wrote for Kind Over Matter on the awesomeness of talking to strangers here.
Try a meetup.
If you want to practice a language, go hiking, or hang out with other food-aficianados check out Meetup.com to see if there are any groups in your area that focus on your interests. Check it out and you might meet some interesting people, make a new friend, or if not, at least you tried something new.
Host a traveler.
If you have a little more time on your hands and love meeting people from different places you can sign up to be a host on Airbnb or CoachSurfing. This will allow you to meet an array of people from all over the globe. Depending on who you host you can also serve as a tourguide to your town which allows you to see it from an entirely different angle. Also, if you use Airbnb you can also make a little money… you know, to fund your own travels.
IF YOU ENJOY TRYING NEW CUISINES…
Try a new restaurant.
Where would you go if you could go absolutely anywhere? Greece? All right! Find a Greek restaurant where you live and get your ass over there. Have some moussaka or some spanakopita. Try a restaurant that has different cuisine… or if you’re familiar with a particular type of cuisine, for example if you’re like me and really into pad thai, go to every restaurant that has that food dish, sample it, and see which you like the most.
Being a foodie, I find it easy to connect with others over food and I love going to restaurants in another place and trying the “local cuisine.”. It tells so much about the regional agriculture, the culture, and I’ve also found it’s often a great point of conversation (or maybe that’s because I grew up in New Mexico were food is like the weather… people are always talking about it). When I was a wee young ‘un, one of my favorite cookbooks was The Kid’s Multicultural Cookbook. Not only did it have easy and delicious recipes from around the world, but it also told stories about other kids who lived in different countries. It was amazing! Not only was I able to cook, but I was also able to learn about what life was like in other places and what kids my age liked to eat. So pull out a cookbook, search online, or look for a cooking class to get started on making recipes from around the world.
Take a food tour.
Just go to your favorite search engine and type in “food tour” + “name of your town.” Search for companies in your town that give food tours, sign up for a tour, and eat up.
IF YOU WANT TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SOMEWHERE ELSE…
Read a book that takes place in a different city/state/country.
If you’re a reader, like me, this is quick escape. Just grab a book from the library, your bookshelf, or download a digital one to your e-reader and enter into a new land. One of my favorite places to find books that take place in other countries is the International IMPAC Dublin Literacy Award website. They select readers from around the globe each year and many of the books take place outside the US.
Watch a movie that takes place in different city/state/country.
Similar to reading a book, this is another easy escape (though probably a little less time consuming). Look on Netflix or Hulu Plus, visit the library or a video rental store and check out a movie that takes place somewhere else. Be immersed in the language, see new scenery, listen to different music, it’s all right there waiting for you. A couple of my favorites (and yes, I have a lot more) are Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips) which is set in Venice, Italy and Veer Zaara which is set in India/Pakistan.
Pretend to be a tourist.
If you have a good imagination or you like acting, pretend to be a tourist. Visit the local attractions in your town- check out the museums, the landmarks, the restaurants, the neighborhoods that everyone says you should see. If you get stuck, stop into a local store and ask someone what he/she recommends doing. I’ve tried this once with one of my friends and it worked splendidly. We had a delightful afternoon.
IF YOU WANT TO EXPLORE…
Step outside your door and just keep walking. Don’t bother having a destination. See where your feet carry you. Often you end up where you need to anyway.
Have a photo adventure.
This goes along with wandering aimlessly. Sometimes you find the best photo opportunities (or sketch opportunities if you prefer that) when you’re not trying to go anywhere specific. Just take your camera or your i-phone and take photos of what catches your attention.
Go somewhere you haven’t been before.
I have never been to the Loretto Chapel. Gasp! It’s a very famous church in my town that has a miraculous winding staircase made without any nails… and the carpenter who built the staircase disappeared mysteriously. I grew up in Santa Fe and even though I’m 27, I have never been inside. I’m sure that you have your own places like that in your town that you’ve been meaning to go for some time but just haven’t yet thinking you’ll get around to it. If you’re feeling the wanderlust, now’s the time to do it.
IF THE WANDERLUST IS JUST TOO DAMN STRONG…
Learn a new language.
Maybe you already know where you want to go next. Maybe you have absolutely no idea. Either way language breaks down barriers and is always a useful skill to have. Once you figure out what language you want to learn, start learning it. You can take a course on the language at a community college, get language discs at a library (or buy them), join a language Meetup, find a language buddy (either online or in the real world), and immerse yourself. Fluentin3months also has some helpful hints for language hacking. Benny Lewis, the man in charge of Fluentin3months also just came out with a book of the same title and is currently going on a book tour.
Plan your next journey.
You know that’s all you really want to do anyway. Start looking at airline/train/ship prices, look at travel guides and mark down where you’d want to go, learn the local language/s, explore the hotels/hostels/airbnbs you could stay in, create your plan, make a budget, figure out how to get there, and go.
What tips do you have for alleviating the symptoms of wanderlust?