Cure the travel bug with these quick, local fixes

As a part-time wildlife tour guide, I’m one of the lucky few who gets to travel frequently. But most folks just can’t embark on an exotic adventure at the drop of a hat. I get it, I know. I barely left my hometown’s small county during the four years I was caring for my aging father. So below I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to cure the travel bug even if you can’t leave town!

We all have reasons; both real and imagined for why we can’t escape the day-to-day grind of our lives; two kids, a full-time job, a sick dog, a lonesome parent, or a maxed credit card…you name it.

So, I’ve brainstormed a bunch of fun ways for you to take a quick ‘vacay’ (even if it’s just in your heart and mind) without actually leaving town (or even your own home). I’ve found that just 1 day spent out of my daily routine (and comfort zone) yields tremendous benefits for my mental and physical health. Perhaps you’ve found this to be true in your own life.

 Here are some of my favorite local travel escapes *drumroll please*:

Cook a meal from your dream destination, whipping out that Italian cookbook you picked up recently.

Visit a zoo, natural history museum or arboretum; you’ll instantly be transported to the savannas of Africa or the jungles of the Amazon.

Read a good travel adventure book. I recently finished listening to Stranger in the Forest about Eric Hansen’s trek across the jungle interior of Borneo. It was fascinating, skin-tingling and really transported me there (disclaimer: I have, in fact, been to Borneo, so I suppose it re-transported me there!)

Visit an art museum and focus on collections from an area you’d like to visit. For example, Florence, Italy and contemplate the paintings of the old masters of Europe.

Listen to music from around the globe. My favorite source of CDs is Putamayo World Music where you can listen to and buy every genre from Irish Celtic to Australian didgeridoo. Better yet, take a class and learn to play the music and instruments of your favorite destination.

Take a dance class of a dance style from the country you’d like to visit. Whether it’s Brazilian Samba, Cuban Salsa or West African dance to the beat of drums, you’ll be transported to your favorite destination in both body and spirit!

Throw a theme party, with music, food, and décor from your chosen destinations. Costumes required!

Rent a projector and have your worldly friends share travel photos from their most recent trip.

Buy an exotic flower arrangement, taking in the scent of plumeria and the warm colors of torch ginger, heliconia, birds of paradise, proteas, and orchids.

Make a vision board focused on a dream destination, using old travel magazines from a used bookstore or library sale.

Learn a foreign language. Try an online tutorial like at Duolingo,  Babble, or  Fluent in 3 Months, take a community college class, or join a conversational language club at a local bookstore or coffee house.

Watch a foreign film, documentary or travel show set in or about the destinations of your dreams.

Sample or learn to mix your own drinks from the area you want to visit next; Burgundy wines from France, Mirto from Sardinia, or a fine oolong tea from China, or Pisco Sours from Peru.

Relive memories from a previous trip by pulling out your old travel journal or photo albums. Cozy up on the couch with a drink appropriate to that trip and soak it all in.

Take a mini vacation in your own city

Plan a day doing things you’ve never tried in your own town; a beer brewery tour, a hip restaurant, a massage at a day spa, a crafty art class.

Take public transit. To help you really feel that you’re on a trip, don’t use your own car… get a taxi, ride a bus, take the train, or hire a limo!

Spend the night at an Airbnb across town. Extra credit if you bring along an out of town friend who can make you appreciate your town’s charms even more.

Write a postcard from a café during your mini-vaca to really cement the idea that you’ve been away. Extra credit if you write in a journal. Check out my post on my Top 10 Benefits of Keeping a Travel Journal.

Through the lens. See your town or nearby city with new eyes by taking your camera for a local adventure and pretending to be a tourist.


Lastly, next time you DO get to travel, be sure to bring home some mementos to help you relive your trip: some regional food, music, clothes, nature treasures or postcards.

Like this travel story?

If you liked this story about travel, you might also like my other stories on the subject below.

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