How to Deal with Wanderlust When You Can't Travel
Wanderlust (n): a strong desire to travel
For a few years, I was a pretty frequent traveler. I went abroad to Cape Town (and also ventured to Botswana and Zimbabwe). I followed that epic six months with various (and at times, equally epic) stateside trips to Hawaii, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to make it out of the country for the second time - with a week-long stay in Cuba over Thanksgiving.
Travel has been so integral to my happiness and identity over the last few years. I’ve found such joy in exploring new places, new cultures and new food. Travel has provided me the deepest sense of perspective, feeling of purpose and appreciation of life and people. It’s hard to articulate, but travel is so satisfying and honestly feels so very necessary to my being.
But, over the last few years, my travel schedule has notably slowed down. I saved for a move, travel for friends’ weddings and had to consistently pay on medical bills (from all of my hip issues!). That’s without even mentioning the routine expenses of adulthood: car payments, utility bills, rent in a notoriously expensive city and anything and everything in between. And to top it all off, I bounced between a few jobs in the last few years (aka I was rebuilding PTO).
For years, I had set a goal to visit Europe (hopefully, Germany and Prague) for my 25th birthday. While I jealously (and often tearfully) looked at my friends’ escapades - both domestic and international - I looked at my bank account…and knew it was not the time.
While I logically and rationally understood that I didn’t have the budget/time to travel abroad last year, I still had an overwhelming feeling of wanderlust. I longed to travel…and it was making me bitter.
So, I took some steps to counteract the intense feelings of wanderlust. Here’s what worked for me:
It may sound a bit escapist, but reading transports me to another place. It can feel a bit like traveling when I’m into a really good book. Bonus points if a piece of fiction set an exotic location.
2. Taking mini trips
While I couldn’t take any big trips, I was able to take a few small trips - even day trips near San Diego. I ventured to the San Francisco area (just $99 round-trip!), I explored Julian, I drove to different LA neighborhoods, I visited my hometown and ventured on new hiking trails and I even spent days in North County San Diego (which truly feels like an entirely different place). All of these little trips were both cost and time-efficient, but all satisfied my urge to experience something new.
3. Trying new restaurants
One of my favorite parts of traveling is experiencing different food local to the region. So, in the interim of me traveling, I made it my mission to try new restaurants around town and experience new things in my own backyard. I carried this into my home life too - constantly experimenting with new, ethnic foods. The DIY experience was an adventure alone.
4. Improving my home
Since I knew I was going to be stuck at home for the foreseeable future, I started to really work on my home so it felt like a true place of respite - a vacation in and of itself. I reorganized, I cleaned incessantly, I hung up artwork and decor, I invested in candles and essential oil diffusers and I worked on the yard. Home started to feel like a good place to be.
5. Planning for a trip
Planning a trip - even if it is awhile away (or has no date set yet!) - is still exciting. Clicking through Airbnb’s and hotels, destinations and food recommendations is exciting. It sparks the idea of possibility and curbs the craving.
6. Saving for a trip
Saving money for a specific trip - and knowing exactly how I am going to use it - is helpful in the interim. I know I’m actively working towards a goal destination, and similar to planning, it helps curb the craving.
Next month, I am going to France and fulfilling my 25th birthday goal…just a few months late. I’m truly so excited to visit Europe for the first time…let alone one of my dream cities - Paris. Trust me: I’m squealing out loud as I type this.
However, I know that Paris will be my big trip over the next few years for (hello, friend wedding season - already planning for four this year!). So, I am sure I will be looking back at these tips over the next year or so!