ByAudrey Scott

Nov 5, 2014

Perhaps you’ve just returned from a trip or vacation. Or you’ve been dreaming of traveling, but you just don’t have the money or time to do so. You have wanderlust and itchy feet, but you know you’ll be staying at home for the near future.

How can you follow your curiosity and create adventures even if you aren’t traveling? How can you keep your “traveler’s eyes” open and your traveling spirit going while at home?

Here are 8 ways to keep your “traveler’s eyes” open at home.

Note: We realize these tips are easier when you live in or near a city, but if you are living in a rural area it may just require a stronger pair of “traveler’s glasses.”

1. Explore a new neighborhood

This doesn’t mean drive over to the neighborhood, take a drive around and return home. Park your car and hit the pavement – go to a park, walk the streets, find the street art, stop in a coffee shop, grab lunch, enjoy a beer at a bar. Simply explore with the same energy and curiosity as you might if you were halfway around the world.

2. Take a walking or biking tour

Whether your interest is street art, architecture, local foods, history, or some combination of all of that, there’s likely a walking or biking tour in your city to match.  This is a great way to explore new-to-you parts of the city and learn all the details that make your home unique. And, you’ll likely meet people with similar interests in the process.

Image courtesy of Moyan Brenn

3. Eat at family-run ethnic restaurants

Try to find a restaurant that serves the cuisine of a place you have visited or wish to visit.  Eating at family-run ethnic restaurants not only fills the stomach with (hopefully) yummy food, but it can provide an opportunity to connect with people and learn more about the world.

Don’t be afraid to show your curiosity and ask questions. You may receive a specially cooked dish or come away with a list of travel recommendations. Either way, you win.

4. Research and find ethnic grocers

This may be more difficult in some places than others. However, I’ve found that if you do your research – searching online and asking employees of ethnic restaurants where they get their ingredients – I bet you’ll find a handful of ethnic grocers in your area. And when you do go to the ethnic grocer, don’t be afraid to ask questions: How do you use this spice? What are the ingredients to make this dish? What’s the best way to use this ingredient?  Do you have any recommendations as to where I can find interesting recipes online?

You won’t just come away with ingredients, but a handful of recipes to try at home.

5. Cook food from the countries you visited

Cooking ethnic food may sound daunting at first, but the hardest part is usually finding the right ingredients (see #3). Once you have those, there are endless resources online to find interesting combinations and recipes for all those favorite dishes you ate while traveling. Sure, the food your prepare may not taste exactly as the street food vendor prepared it in Bangkok, but it can get pretty close.  And the more you do it, the more you’ll understand and the better you’ll get.

Make it an event: Invite your friends and family over for a theme night. Cook food from the country you visited, share stories and offer a slideshow of images on your laptop or tablet.

6. Find festivals, museums, concerts, or other cultural events

We often reserve our searching and “being open to anything” skills for when we’re on the road traveling. It’s very likely, however, that there are a lot of things going on near you that provide experiences you never imagined you could have at home. Even better, you may meet people who share similar interests and make local connections at home that you never knew existed.

One approach to finding these events, exhibitions and experiences is to pay a visit to your local tourism office. Local staff are usually up-to-date with everything going on and are happy to steer you in the right direction to match your interests.

7. Try out a new cafe, restaurant, or bar

It’s easy to get into routines at home, to go to the same places over and over again. And while that can feel satisfying – to go where they know you, know your special style of coffee, know your preferences, know your name – it can also give way to complacency. Give yourself a goal of visiting a new cafe, restaurant or bar each week or two, depending on your schedule. Use this as an opportunity to explore new neighborhoods or even undiscovered streets in your current neighborhood.

Three bagpipers inside a funky bar.
Three bagpipers inside a funky bar. Image courtesy Infrogmation of New Orleans

8. Engage with others like a traveler

Why is it that we’re often more likely to be open to engaging with other people when we’re traveling? One could say it’s because we have more needs then – we need directions, advice on restaurants, or knowledge of the place. I believe that this enhanced engagement with strangers has a lot to do with our openness to others while traveling, which manifests itself in our body language and actions.

Now, what if you try doing the same at home? My question to you is: What if you begin to engage people with the same smile, body language, curiosity and generosity you exude while traveling?

The answer: You never know what you may find through travelers eyes.

Looking to venture a little farther from home?  Here are 7 Ways Traveling Responsibly Will Enhance Your Experience.

Feature image courtesy of Neff Conner

By Audrey Scott

Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll are writers, speakers, consultants, and digital storytellers. By combining storytelling techniques, content strategies and social media platforms, they help clients market sustainable tourism in a jargon-free way. They run one of the world’s top travel blogs, Uncornered Market, that has shared stories from their journey around the world these last seven years. After visiting over 85 countries together, they are still going…and still married.