A few days ago, a friend who graduated from college this spring called asking me the question that most recent grads ask themselves: what now? Here’s a small excerpt from the conversation:
Friend (mildly frantic): I don’t know what I’m going to do! What am I doing?
Me: You should leave your state or the country. Come travel the world with me!
Friend (annoyed because I’ve brought this up several times): Look, I’m scared! Stuff like that scares me. I’m not like you!
Me: Who me? I’m always scared of this stuff, and you know I’m not exactly a thrill-seeker. Am I telling you to jump out of a plane? No! We’re both homebodies and…
Friend (in agreement, but still annoyed): Yeah, that’s true. Is that how late it is? I have to go cook dinner now. Bye!
Although my friend and others believe that I’m suddenly sipping from a magical chalice of bravery, the truth is that I’m not. I have just figured out certain tricks that work for me as a wandering homebody. George Bernard Shaw once said, “I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.” To an extent, I understand this statement. Part of traveling fully is experiencing “difference.” However, I actually appreciate when certain aspects of my travels feel homelike. If you’re letting the fact that you’re a homebody hold you back from traveling, you don’t have to! These tips go out to my homebodies inflicted with the seemingly contradictory itch of wanderlust.
Engage the art of slow travel
Avoid taking really short trips or trips where you hop from place to place. This may sound like strange advice since a longer trip means staying away from home longer, but it’s solid! I promise. If you are anything like me, then you need to take time to get comfortable. Part of that is getting a sense of what a city is really like. Part of it is also having time to make a home away from home, even if it’s temporary. The first time that I left home partly for travel reasons was for college. I chose a school in Florida with historic grounds, natural beauty, a museum next door, and a nearby art scene. If I had only stayed in that area of Florida for a week, heck a month, I would have never appreciated all of its quirks as much as I do today. I’m not saying that you have to go live in your new travel destination for years. (Plus, it’s frowned upon by
many immigration laws if you plan on going abroad.) But you should probably aim for a week or more, just so you can get your footing and enjoy your trip.
If you find a place in which you feel comfortable, you can travel there again
Whenever I bring up returning to places I’ve traveled before, there’s always at least one person who chimes in with “Why? You’ve already been there. Isn’t it time to go somewhere new?” First of all, going to the same place twice or more doesn’t mean that you will never travel anywhere else again. Second of all, why can’t you visit a favorite place more than once? People eat their favorite foods more than once in a lifetime or watch favorite movies over and over. Why is travel any different? If you feel you’ve found a second home in some small New England town of which no one has heard, and you want to go there twice a year for the rest of your life, go ahead. There is no shame and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
If possible, find accommodation in a homey environment
Sometimes you just can’t get comfortable in a hotel or hostel. If your destination happens to be located in the same neighborhood as a friend or family member’s home, ask if you can spend a few nights. Be the best houseguest of all time. Also, make sure that you spend time with your host. Maybe invite them on a few, if not all, of your adventures or to share their knowledge of the area (if they enjoy being an expert). Last New Year’s Eve, I went to a club in Atlanta to bring in the new year. (It was the first time in my life that I had ever been to a New Year’s Eve party outside of my house, let alone one in a club.) Instead of having to drag my post-party self back to a hotel where I would have certainly faced loud, drunk revelers all night, my grandfather offered me a reprieve. I stayed the night in his house, and we watched movies and ate for half of New Year’s Day. I went home well-rested and fed. Who doesn’t want that?
If staying with friends or family isn’t an option (which it probably won’t be in most cases), check out Airbnb. Available in many locations around the world, it allows you to book a room in someone’s home or a whole apartment similar to how you book accommodation in a hotel.
Remember that you can always go home
If you’ve really given a place a chance and decide that it’s not for you, you can go home. Don’t worry about being judged. It just wasn’t the destination for for you. It doesn’t mean that you’re incapable of traveling or have failed. You’re just meant to have a different adventure in a different place.
Most of all, remember that you will probably go on your adventure and find that you’re a more capable traveler than you’ve ever imagined.