Wanderlust doesn’t always mean a passport, plane ticket, or a suitcase. Situations sometimes get in the way of travel – money, work, family, health, etc.
There’s no need to beat yourself up when you’re in a financial rut and can’t travel soon. Sometimes, all you need is a little ‘escapism’.
Here are some ideas to fuel your wanderlust when you can’t travel:
1. Plan a trip
Did you know that we are happier when planning a trip than when traveling?
Even a 2010 study has found a boost in happiness among vacationers during the planning stages. The study concludes that it’s the anticipation buildup that makes people happy.
Personally, I’ve noticed that as I go into the tiny details of an upcoming trip, I get more excited. There’s this expectation that things will go well during the trip.
When you start making where-to-go and what-to-do lists, it makes you confident that every detail of the trip is in place. Whether or not those details come to fruition during the trip, you still feel good. The highs that actual traveling gives you, are present during the planning stage.
It doesn’t matter if you’re still saving up for a trip. Just take the first step: PLAN THAT TRIP.
2. Take short trips
You don’t have to wait for that one big vacation. Take shorter getaways until your most awaited holiday. If you’re working on weekdays, get on a weekend trip. You’d still get that vibe from an actual journey.
Weekend getaways don’t have to be remote or expensive. It could be a trip to the nearby spa resort or a newly opened adventure camp. Or treat a tag-along friend to a picnic close to an enchanting waterfall.
Short trips may be a quick fix but have long-term healthy mental and physical benefits.
3. Try new adventures
If you have bungee jumping, skydiving, and paragliding on your list, why wait till you get to New Zealand or Dubai? If these extreme adventures can be done in your home country, what’s holding you back? Trying out new things is not just heart-pumping but also life-changing. It doesn’t matter where you do it, as long as you do it.
4. Book a hostel
When I stay at a local hostel, I thought I’d be bored. I was like, “Oh, I’d probably spend the whole day watching Netflix on my laptop”. But when I started chitchatting with guests from other countries, I felt like a tourist. The people you’d meet in hostels are most likely from the countries on your bucket list. Thus, they are the best source of travel tips!
So pick a nearby town or city that you haven’t really explored. Stay a night or two. You’ll surely find new faces and attractions around.
5. Take photos outdoors
Are you a nature lover? A beach bum? An urban fly? Whatever you are, go somewhere you love. Take photos. More photos. Okay, even more photos.
Take snaps of the sunset on a nearby lake. Set your alarm and climb a hill at sunrise. Go to a park and take photos of the elderly women practicing their tai chi. Why not brush up on your photography skills on fast-moving cars? Do what you got to do, just go outdoors. The outdoors will surely feed your wanderlust.
6. Post a #tbt pic
On a lazy day, browse through hundreds of photos on your phone. Keep going until one of those photos makes you chuckle. Post that photo on Instagram. Write a good caption. Tell your story about that picture. Is it something hilarious? People love good stories on Instagram. Let those old photos walk you back to where you’ve been.
7. Write about a previous trip
You don’t need a blog to write about a life-changing trip. All you need is a journal. Is there one place you’d love to go back to? What made you love that place? What was the most blissful part of your holiday?
Joggle your memory about the trip. How did you feel the moment your plane landed on the airstrip? What was your first impression? What was the first thing you did? Ate street food? Sipped local tea?
Think slowly. Savor the good memories. Trust me, it will make you feel good.
8. Read blogs
We all have 24 hours and 7 days. Make time for reading travel blogs. Finding blogs that talk about your bucket list destinations is just a click away. Don’t stick to one blog, read multiple. Different travelers, different experiences. Read their stories.
If envy taps lightly on your shoulder while reading blogs, face it, and poke it in the eye! Travel blogs should inspire you, not make you feel miserable.
9. Watch movies or documentaries
I watch “Eat Pray Love” every time I feel horrible about not traveling. I’d tell myself “One day I’ll retrace Liz Gilbert’s steps from Bali, to Italy, to India, then back to Bali.”
Well, there are tons of travel-inspired movies and documentaries. I recently stumbled upon this collection of nature documentaries online. A real eye-opener. Vacationing shouldn’t mean we can take nature and wildlife for granted. If we keep destroying it, one day there’d be no more picturesque views to show off on our IG galleries.
10. Reconnect with friends
Have you made friends while on holiday? I bet you’ve been keeping tabs on them on Instagram. Why not drop them a line? Reconnecting with people you’ve met while traveling will take you back to that place.
Recently, I received a message from Yari. We met on a flight to Bali six years ago. It’s really funny that she forgot she has a Facebook account. It took her six years to read my message and reply “Hey I’m so sorry I was never on Facebook. You should come to my wedding in Surabaya!”
Of the ten people you’d bond with while vacationing, only two will stick it out and that’s okay! Long-distance relationships are really a challenge. But as long as there are good memories to keep, there’s a reason to reconnect.
11. Listen to foreign music
As I’m writing this article, a 2-hour nonstop Buddhist chant is blaring in my room. I’ve been using it for occasional meditation sessions but it also takes me back to my second home, Thailand. I’ve never been to India but its music is on my list.
Forget Nickelback (everyone swears it’s terrible). Forget Taylor Swift, she’ll leave you jaded in love. Pop some French or Arabic music. Don’t you find a foreign language sexy when spoken? Foreign music has a similar effect on people carrying the travel bug. Try closing your eyes with some Spanish flamenco music in the background. In no time it will bring you to a tables (a place where flamenco is performed) in Catalunya, Spain. Foreign music sparks wanderlust.
12. Eat foreign food
There’s a 99% chance that you have access to international food in your city. Well, reward yourself with a platter of Mexican quesadillas! Pasta may be overrated (in my kitchen, at least) but Italian gelato never fails. It’s the dry season in most parts of Asia but I wouldn’t say no to a searing bowl of Vietnamese pho. Care for some Chinese? Go to the nearest Chinatown! Food trips make up 40% of anyone’s wanderlust.
Note: Bonus points for a combination of authentic food and foreign restaurant ambiance.
13. Update your bucket list
When was the last time you touched your bucket list? Just because you haven’t booked a flight for the last 6 months doesn’t mean everything else is on hold.
Let’s say Australia is on your list. Did you know that there’s more to Australia than the Sydney Opera House? Everyone gushes about the East Coast, the stunning beaches, and the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t you think it’s about time to put Australia’s wildlife on the list?
And don’t copy and paste someone else’s bucket list. Make your own map.
Of course, you should actually take THE vacation. These are just ways to cope with your temporary rut. Not convinced that any of these ideas will work? Well, let me know once you’ve tried them all.