When I was working a full-time office job, I had less than 3 weeks of leave each year. When work was busy, I would find myself in the office, thinking about my last trip, planning for my next trip, and just generally feel a tad frustrated that I was stuck in the office. But that’s life – commitments are one of the main things that keep people from travelling as much as they want. Money is the other – both these things are usually linked to having a job, so it’s a bit of an unavoidable circle of life.
But even if you are stuck at home with no recourse for travels nearby, the world is pretty globalised nowadays so you can introduce that feeling of being in a foreign country even when you are right at home, especially if your home is somewhere like Singapore, a bit of a global melting pot and convenient connection for travellers.
Here are some ideas on how you can introduce that wonder of travel into your everyday life back at home.
Seek out the foreign at home
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 will 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 read
- 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
I visited Spain in 2007 and 2008 and was in a bit of a Spain love affair after that when I returned to Singapore. I tried out a Spanish flamenco dance called Sevillanas just for fun (it was HARD) and watched a flamenco dance performance (simultaneously more interesting and dull than I thought it would be) during a local dance festival. Past Spain trips 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 gambas/prawns, and I tried learning a bit of Spanish as well on my own.
These ideas are great to help feed that wanderlust, and when you do eventually visit that chosen country, you will probably appreciate the culture more as you have become more acquainted with it. It’s also interesting to see how your home country might have adapted or changed some bits from the original flavour. Tapas is always going to be better in Spain for me!
Explore your own home
You think you know your own home ground well, but do you really? When I started to show some friends and readers who were visitors to Singapore around town, their questions made me realise that I didn’t know 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.
That’s a plus point about being a travel blogger for me, you just do that much more research, and I’m a lot more curious and open to suggestions to check out interesting things around town.
The best part is that all it takes 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
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 that people are travelling’ to ‘OMG YOU’RE GOING WHERE? I’M SO ENVIOUS’. I try not to get too jealous or bitter – that’s not going to get me anywhere (literally), and just use my friend’s pictures as a reminder to get off my butt and start planning my next trip. That is how this blog started out in the first place – me talking about my past trips to remind myself to travel more in future.
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, but if you are 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!
Cover photo – Wanderlust by Send Me Adrift via Flickr CC