I’d been waiting for that.
Frankly, I’m surprised it took you all so long.
I mean, seriously, you guys, I’ve been back in the States for over two years now, and I haven’t been outside of the country since then, aside from a handful of trips to Canada.
I haven’t had to order anything off a menu that I can’t read. I haven’t had to use hand gestures to get myself to a train station or the bathroom. And I’m not entirely sure where my passport is at the moment.
I also don’t have any plans to be going overseas anytime soon.
My reasons for not traveling overseas are pretty mundane and boring and probably like a lot of people’s reasons for not traveling overseas.
Like money. Or lack thereof.
And I say this as someone who spent two months living on a Malaysian rice farm just so I could get free room and board. I know international travel doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg as long as you’re willing to rough it a bit, and, you know, maybe weed a few rice paddies in the process.
But, at the same time, traveling overseas does cost some money. And I don’t have a whole lot of that at the moment. My teacher salary basically pays for my rent and my groceries and my car insurance and the occasional trip to Target, during which I accidentally BUY ALL THE THINGS.
And that’s about it.
Sure, I could get a second job, and get rid of my car, and move in with a roommate, and eat ramen noodles, and never, ever go into Target again, and sell my platelets, and make crystal meth in my bathtub, and take up playing the banjo on the street corner for tips, all so I could pay off my bills faster and bulk up my savings and quit my job and travel around the world.
But, gosh golly, that sounds exhausting.
Plus, I’ve done that before. A few times, actually.
And, well, I’m trying this new thing where I actually stay in one place for a bit and have a career and a cat and more than one pair of shoes.
This is not to say that I don’t miss traveling and living overseas. Or that I have no intention of doing it ever again.
It’s just that I’m focusing on a few other things at the moment.
And one of those things happens to be paying off my credit card. But it’s really kind of hard to pay off your credit card if you keep on using said credit card to buy international plane tickets. (And, telling yourself “You deserve it!” and “You only live once!” and “Think of all the blog posts you’ll write!” and “You can pay off your credit card when you’re dead!” don’t exactly help pay off your credit card either. Trust me. I’ve tried that method. It doesn’t work.)
But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my past two years of being America-bound, it’s that you don’t have to actually travel to feel travelly. (Totally a word.)
So how can you feel like you’re traveling without actually traveling?
I’ve got you covered.
How to Feel Travelly When You Can’t Actually Travel
1. Hang out with international people.
I learn all kinds of fun foreign things from my students. Just this week, I learned a variety of gestures from my Saudi students, including the gesture parents make to their children which means, more or less, “When we get home, you’re pretty much dead.” I learned how to say “the cat is purring” in Japanese. (And then promptly forgot it.) And I learned that Iraqi sweets taste like fried butter. (Not that I have a problem with this.)
Being surrounded by foreign people everyday makes me feel almost like I’m in a foreign country. But a foreign country where I can make everyone speak English with me or I’ll fail them. Which is like the best foreign country EVER.
2. Try new foods.
While being able to read the food labels in the States takes some of the fun out of grocery shopping, every time I go to the store, I try to buy at least one new food thing I’ve either never eaten before or never cooked before.
In the last year, I’ve experimented with brussel sprouts (yum), kale (meh), parsnips (mostly because I like the word “parsnips”) and quinoa (like it, but still don’t know how to pronounce it). And I’ve made a whole bunch of other foods — from pie to chicken and dumplings — that I never imagined I would ever make. Mostly because they required me to dirty more than one dish, which is usually something I try to avoid doing when I cook.
3. Surround yourself with your souvenirs.
Which means my walls are covered in beaded belts from Brazil and Buddha prints from Thailand and fabric wall-hangings from Japan. When I’m feeling a bit too boring and un-travelly, I can just look around my apartment at all my accumulated souvenirs and remember all my fun travel times.
Like that time I dragged that brass tea table and a rotting goat skin lamp all the way from Morocco to Spain then Portugal, and ended up smelling like a rotting goat myself in the process.
Come to think of it, that wasn’t such a fun travel time for me.
4. Explore where you live.
But I do try to get out of the house at least once a week and go to some place or event in my town that I haven’t been to before — whether it’s an art festival or a poetry reading or a cemetery tour or a nature preserve.
And then, after I do that, I spend the rest of my week, sitting on my couch, eating popcorn and wine for dinner BECAUSE EXPLORING IS EXHAUSTING AND I’M OLIVIA POPE GOSHDARNIT.
But, you guys, I can’t just NOT travel. That would just make me miserable and probably make my brain explode.
While my lack of moneys has meant I’ve had to limit most of my trips to day trips or weekend trips within Michigan, I’ve still been able to take some pretty awesome trips.
Like, that time I almost died hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Okay, so that wasn’t so awesome. But there was that time I went to Mackinac Island and forced my friends to do a whole bunch of things they didn’t want to do. That was pretty awesome.
And I have some pretty awesome trips coming up. (Spoiler alert: I booked a yurt. A YURT!)
So, yeah, my life may not be as exotic and international as it once was, but it’s still pretty travelly (still totally a word).
ALSO, DID I MENTION I’M GOING TO BE STAYING IN A YURT?? A YURT!How do you feel travelly when you can’t travel?