When Life Keeps You Down – How To Travel Without Leaving Home

 Travel at Home - Globe
Wanderlust by Send Me Adrift via Flickr CC

So it’s September now – the last trip that I made this year was back in end July when I popped up to Bangkok on a FAM Trip over the long weekend. In the grand scheme of things, it was just 2 months ago which is not a very long lull period for most people; with less than 3 weeks of vacation time, you’re bound to have long periods of downtime in between travels. But still, I love travel and I’ve had an insanely busy month of work, so all I want to do right now is pack my bags and go somewhere nice.

But if work and commitments keep you from taking your next vacation overseas, there’s no need to let frustration take over! With globalization and a shrinking world, it’s become much easier for you  to experience the joys of travel without breaking out your passport.

Here are some things I try to do in between trips, when I’m starting to feel a little antsy about not being somewhere overseas, various ways to curb (or alternately feed) my wanderlust:


Seek out the foreign at home

Travel at Home - Spain Pomegranate
Take home a little bit of international flavour from the market for a change – photo by nivekhmng via Flickr CC

I’m quite lucky to be based in Singapore, a multi-cultural country and a popular business hub with a world-class airport – we’ve welcomed the world with open arms, and you can feel it in the growing diversity of languages on the street, the exotic food selection available and the people you encounter in everyday life.

So do something a little fun – Pick a place that you really want to visit and research it like you’re actually going there. After that, try finding equivalents of these places and things to do right in your home town. With the internet, this has become extremely easy to do, and unless you live in a really remote gated community, globalization should have touched your country in some way and you should be able to find traces of other countries in your home town.

There are lots of different ways you could do this, so pick something that appeals to your own interests. Some suggestions to kickstart your brain:

  • Pick up a new language – you’ll learn a little about the culture and country while you’re at it
  • Browse the international sections in the library or find an author from that country to check out
  • Find a restaurant that serves that country’s food and have your dinner there instead of your usual haunts
  • Look for international culture festivals – that’s usually a great way to get started
  • Couchsurf to look for expat communities or visiting travellers coming to your hometown – meeting new people is definitely a traveller thing to do

When I was in a bit of an Andalucian/Spanish love phase, I tried out a Spanish flamenco dance called Sevillanas just for fun (it was HARD) and watching a flamenco dance performance (simultaneously more interesting and dull than I thought it would be) during a local dance festival. That also inspired a search for a great tapas joint that served good Sangria (there are a surprising number of Spanish food joints in Singapore – I am fond of Zsofis and their prawns), and I was quite good about following up on my Duolingo Spanish lessons too at one point!

When you do end up visiting that country, you’ll be really prepared for it, and can better appreciate how that culture might have adapted itself to your hometown! (Churros and calamari just taste better in Spain, somehow!)


Explore your own home

Singapore Street Art - Rowell road alley
Did you know that there’s a really large piece of street art in Singapore by a famous American street artist? Yeah, I didn’t know either until I explored and saw it for myself! See more Singapore Street Art works here.

You think you might know your own homeground pretty well, but do you really? I realized when I started to bring visitors and some of my readers around, that I didn’t know little Singapore as well as I thought I did! And that motivated me to want to explore my own backyard a little bit more, dig deeper into history and all that has helped me appreciate Singapore as my home much more.

The one great thing about running The Occasional Traveller is that writing about Singapore has made me do so much more research than I normally would have, and it’s made me a much more curious person.

It’s not difficult to do, all it needs is for you to take a detour from your familiar pathways:

  • Offer to bring tourists and guests around – they’ll often ask you questions you might not have thought about yourself, and reveal how much you truly know about your hometown
  • Take a random trip – hop on a different bus route or take the train to the end of the line for a change, or go down that mysterious alley you’ve been wanting to explore, just because – Who knows what you’ll discover!
  • Check out your local museums and galleries – in the past, I would be more likely to visit these places overseas than I would in Singapore. That said, I keep a closer eye on festivals and interesting events happening there now, there are a surprising number of museums I didn’t even know existed in Singapore
  • Become a local expert – on whatever topic you please, whether it’s as broad as Singapore’s history or as narrow as awesome Chicken Rice stalls. You’ll naturally dig deeper into the history and context which gives you a richer understanding, and people seeking your advice will come your way, which lets you meet a variety of people you might not otherwise meet, like you’re on the road.


Live vicariously through others

Travel at Home - Balloon Selfie
Wouldn’t you love to be up there with them? Seeing this pop up on my facebook feed would send my morning into a tizzy~ Ballooning Harsen by Tom Jutte via Flickr CC


I’m always excited when I hear of my people I know travelling – depending on when/where/how much I like them, it generally ranges from ‘Happy more people are travelling’ to ‘OMG YOU’RE GOING WHERE? ENVIOUS >_<‘. I try not to get too jealous or bitter – it’s not going to get me anywhere (literally), and just take it as a reminder to get off my butt and start planning my next trip.

Of course Facebook and Instagram accounts of my friends and family are de rigeur to stalk – I find it especially interesting if someone else visits a place that I’ve already been to, and to compare their experiences and my own. Am I innately competitive? I like to think of it as seeing what I might have missed out on so I know what to do if I ever go back there!

Other travel bloggers are also awesome to follow, because the good ones usually give you useful info for your future trips or a great entertaining story to make you wanderlust. I’d recommend you anyone from my Bloghouse batch or my Wallpaper Wanderers to check out, but if you’re looking for other travel bloggers with full-time jobs other than myself and wondering how they did it too, here are couple you should check out:

  • Need Another Holiday by Clare is one of the first other travel bloggers I got to know. She’s based in Europe so she does lots of little European hops and even with an upcoming baby in tow, she’s still great inspiration!
  • Sateless Suitcase by Julika is a mutual friend, and besides lovely posts and pictures, she talks a lot about balancing her wanderlust and work as a medievalist (like, yes that is a real and cool thing people!)
  • Furious Panda by Red is still an awesome inspiring read about a dude who’s gotten into all sorts of hairy situations and somehow travelled 60+ countries, most of them in the Asian region!

How do you combat the wanderlust when you’re at home? Share your experience here!

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