For many Americans, the reality of vacation days is grim. Except for those meager 14 days we hoard each year, we’re confined to an office, tied by a phone cord or stuck at home mowing the lawn. With the drudgery of daily living before us, we sometimes forget travel isn’t always about going places: it’s also about how we perceive the world.
When we travel, something imperceptible occurs in our brains. Our senses are more acute. We are more open to new experiences. We crave adventure. If we use these same traits during the other 351 days of the year, it can have a profound impact on our mood, our energy and our happiness. With that in mind, Gadling has compiled 10 simple tips to help you take a vacation from everyday life:
- Use your senses – Ever noticed the tiny sculptures on the facade of the post office? Or really smelled the vegetables at the farmer’s market? We notice the sounds and sights and smells of traveling because we want to “take it all in” – but vacation does not have a monopoly on rich sensory experience; take a few moments as you go about your daily routine to stop and notice life around you.
- Walk – Walking goes hand-in-hand with your senses. You notice more when you’re not behind the wheel of a car. Walking slows you down, allowing you the leisure to notice the tiny details you might miss when you whip past in a moving vehicle. You’ll even get some easy exercise.
- Bring culture to you – experiencing a foreign culture doesn’t require a plane ticket. You can interact with faraway lands and strange languages down the block. Host a foreign exchange student. Learn a language. Watch an international sporting event that starts at 3am. Eat a delicacy you’ve never tried before.
- Be a local tourist – there’s a monument or landmark near your hometown you’ve never visited. It’s so close by and filled with tourists, that we pay it no heed and plan to visit later. Go check out that place. You might find you enjoy it, or even learn something new about where you live.
- Take a detour – admit it, you take the same route both to and from work. Don’t sweat it – humans are habitual by nature. But next time, take a different side street. Instead of driving to work, take your bike. Fly there by helicopter if you have one – you’ll notice landmarks, buildings and new scenery you’ve never seen before.
- Be a reporter – the writers at Gadling may have the luxury of a travel blog at our disposal, but we don’t have a monopoly on self-publishing. Capture what goes on around you as if it was a trip – write down your thoughts on a blog, take some digital photos or make your own movie.
- Take a risk – there’s something about the brevity of trips that forces us out of our comfort zone. Perhaps it’s because we have no time to waste – decisions we agonize over back home are made in an instant. Don’t be afraid to do the same thing when you’re not on the road, whether it’s at your job or a new flavor of ice cream.
- Improvise – you remember how you missed that train in Italy and ended up staying up all night with new friends at the bar? Somehow everything works out, even if it’s not how you expected it. Travel teaches us to adapt to changing circumstances. That goes for life at home too – even if you didn’t get that promotion at work or your weekend plans fall apart, the unexpected can be a positive if you choose to embrace it.
- Adopt a new persona – it’s easy to fall into familiar traps around family and friends because they expect you’ll act a certain way. That disappears when we’re far from home, where we’re free to try on new personas and act in unexpected ways. Nobody knows you, so what’s the difference? Don’t be afraid to be more self-confident at home as well. The expectations of who we should be and what we do are largely self-created. Don’t be bound by expectations!
- Be amazed – we stare in awe at the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall because they are truly amazing sights. But all around us lie amazing stories, interesting locals and technology that would have boggled our ancestors. Go seek them out. Admire them. Just watch this video if you need convincing.