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  • Molly Gone Wild

5 Ways to Bring Your 'Travel Self' Home

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

My 'travel self,' alive and well in Spain.

Let's talk about the 'travel self.' What's a 'travel self,' you ask? You know, it's that version of yourself that comes alive as soon as you hear the word "vacation." It's that version of yourself that can feel so elusive in your normal, everyday life. Maybe your 'travel self' is a little more carefree, a little more open-minded, a little more observant. Maybe you'd describe your 'travel self' as a little more lazy or indulgent (ain't no shame in that!). Your 'travel self' probably interacts with the world differently than mine does, or anyone else's for that matter, but I've found that many of us return home from our travels wishing we could bring a little bit more of that travel magic into our day-to-day lives.

Do you know your 'travel self?' Travel brings out the best in me. My 'travel self' is curious, patient, joyful, compassionate. When I travel, I move through the world with an open mind and an open heart. I stop to chat with shopkeepers, smile at strangers on the sidewalk, ask questions of everyone and anyone that will share their thoughts on the history, meaning, and culture of the place. I toss all my rules out the window and participate wholeheartedly in whatever the world throws my way. I stay up late, take siestas in the middle of the afternoon, drink wine in the park, dance with children in the streets. Sweltering heat is simply an excuse to take refuge in a local smoothie shop and learn their secret ingredients. Running out of toothpaste or sunscreen is not an annoyance but rather a thrilling opportunity to explore a foreign drugstore chain (seriously, so fun). Slow service at a restaurant means more time to people watch and soak up my surroundings. My 'travel self' sees the good in people, finds the humor and joy in the mishaps, and appreciates the richness and complexity of difference. In many ways, my 'travel self' is the person I'd like to be every day.

Wishful thinking though, right? Normal life is full of chores, to-do lists, work, pressures, expectations, responsibilities. We rush from here to there. Normal life doesn't feel new and exotic and thought-provoking the way some far-off destination does. We know the ins-and-outs of our hometown, our culture, our cuisine. There's nothing more to be curious about...or so we think.

But, imagine if you brought a little bit of your 'travel self' with you next time you make a trip to your neighborhood grocery store. Ask your cashier where they go to grab a cup of coffee. Maybe it'll be a place you already know, maybe it won't. Invite your 'travel self' along and take yourself out to dinner. Sit at the bar alone, strike up a conversation with the bartender, and learn about your home through their eyes. If we all bring a little bit more of our 'travel self' home with us, I believe we can cultivate a little more joy, a little more empathy, and a little more wide-eyed wonder in our normal, every day lives. Read on for five simple tricks I use to try to awaken my 'travel self' at home.

1. Shift your mindset.

It's easy to forget that there's always more to learn about the place we call home. With a small shift in mindset, you can bring the curiosity too often reserved for travel and refocus it on your home. What do you know about the history of your hometown? The landmarks? The defining moments, people, and dishes? If you start to see your home as a place worthy of curiosity, you'll start to see things you never saw before.

2. Explore without a destination in mind.

When I travel, I wander. When I'm home, I usually go somewhere when I have a purpose and place to be. Want to awaken your 'travel self' at home? Try exploring with no destination in mind. Head on over to a neighborhood you'd like to get to know better and start meandering. Give yourself an hour, or four, and see where you end up. Don't forget to smile at the people you pass on the sidewalk!

3. Talk to strangers.

Which brings us to my next tip. Smile at people and talk to strangers (kids, if you're reading, this advice is for your parents, not you). Now, of course, you don't need to start chatting up every person you pass on the street but rather open your mind to the possibility of connecting with and learning from the people around you. Your barista might turn you on to a new restaurant that just opened; your hairdresser might clue you into your new favorite date night spot. Be open and people will be open in return.

4. Try new things.

If you're the type that sticks to a strict routine at home and lets loose only on vacation, this one is for you. Why wait until vacation to try new foods or take a dance class? Seek out the weird, wild, wonderful things that make your home one-of-a-kind and give them a try. Maybe your hometown is known for surfing but you're not much of a surfer? Gather some friends, rent surfboards, make fools of yourselves, then laugh about it over dinner. Trust me, just because you didn't board a plane doesn't mean the memories will be any less delightful.

5. Slow down.

At home, we're busy. When we travel, we tend to take it slow, soak it up, and savor every moment. Try bringing a little bit of this slowness into your everyday life once in a while and see how it shifts your experience of home. If you usually get your coffee to-go on your way to work, plan to leave 20 minutes early one morning and sit at the cafe while you sip. Maybe you'll notice things you usually miss.

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