In February of 2017, I got on a plane and flew to Colorado. This was probably my 3rd time on an airplane ever in my life (I was 20 years old at the time). My next plane ride took me to a small town in Michigan that August. Only four months after that, I hopped on a plane that eventually led me to Manhattan, for 4 snowy days in the city. April 2018 took me out of the U.S. and gained me my first ever passport stamp (helloooo London!). Only about two months later I got one more stamp when I flew to Costa Rica in June. Six months later, I found myself in Manhattan again for another 4 days of that wonderful city in December I waited patiently for another 6 months after that for my biggest travel excursion yet. June 2019, I left the U.S. and embarked on a one month backpacking trip in Europe. And that was it, I’ve not yet been on a plane since.
Why did my travel habits suddenly hit a brick wall? Well, I had a baby 3 months after returning from my backpacking trip, so that will definitely put a pause on a lot of things — travel being one of them. But I have always been determined as a mom to hop on a plane with our little babe as soon as possible. I know that travel with children can be daunting but it’s one of those things that I want to face so I can prove to myself that it really isn’t as bad as my mind may want me to think. The last thing I want is to use the excuse of it being too stressful to travel with a child and stay in my comfort zone and hardly ever go anywhere cool as a family.
And then of course you have the pandemic. As if traveling with a child wasn’t already intimidating, now you have the mask requirements, the need to get COVID swabbed prior to going, and the risk of catching COVID abroad and getting stuck at your destination longer to quarantine. I feel like that last one is the hardest one for me to get past.
We are also on a budget right now as I go through a career transition and we save up for our wedding but I still want to make travel a financial priority. It’s really not that hard to save for a trip even when you’re on a tight budget. But, it is tough to save up enough for a trip and to have enough money prepared in case you get stuck in whatever country you travel to and have to pay for an additional 10 days (or who knows how long) of housing and food. That’s where I’m at with it. I know, we could technically stay within the country, but our budget is still tight, so for now, we’re staying put.
So, I haven’t been on a plane for almost two years after getting on one nearly every 3 months for a couple of years. It’s a bit of a bummer, I’m not going to lie. I’m dying to go somewhere. I feel bored all the time. Some days, I feel like I’m going crazy. I know that hopping on a plane right now would give me the perspective and clarity that I so badly need. I miss traveling so so much.
So, how am I handling such a bummer? I’m starting to really think about what it is that I love so much about traveling and figuring out ways to achieve those things without going anywhere. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Exploring culture/art from home.
One reason I love to travel is that it gives me a new perspective. Traveling exposes me to new people in new cultures and new surroundings that I’ve never experienced before. It teaches me and causes me to grow. A lot of the trips I’ve gone on have inspired me to explore museums and art in order to embrace what a city has to offer and learn more about that city’s culture.
I also love the extra time that I get while traveling that leads me to read more books, magazines and newspaper. I’m trying to start doing more of all of these things at home. It can be easy to get in the habit of sitting on the couch and reaching for your phone right away. I’m going to try to pick up a book more often, listen to more audiobooks, and just generally be more intentional with my down time.
Although I’m trying to lessen my screen time, I know that some TV and phone time is inevitable so I’ve been striving to watch TV and use social media with more of a cultural eye, if that makes sense. What the hell does that mean? You’re probably wondering. What I mean is this, I’m not mindlessly staring at the TV or my phone. I’m asking myself, what am I looking at? Is this serving me in a positive way? If not, let’s do something else. I’m watching shows and movies and paying attention to fashion, style and trends.
It’s been super enjoyable to rewatch movies that I loved when I was growing up and pay attention to the way people dressed and acted back then. Noticing what was trendy when I was growing up gives me a perspective into past trends and styles that influenced my personal style today.
Not going to lie, I can tend to find solace in cheesy, early 2000’s era rom-coms and reality shows but I’m fully embracing these guilty pleasures. It’s not time wasted if you’re mindfully watching and finding joy in the moment — that’s something I’ve realized recently.
Since I’ve started to spend more time writing and creating things, I’m realizing that art is everywhere. Yes, even on the TV screen of those poorly rated rom-coms and walking the streets of your hometown. You may just need to shift your perspective and take a closer look to notice it.
Embrace your surroundings/community.
It feels really good to get out of your hometown but it can also be nice to ask yourself: What does my hometown have to offer that I’m not already taking advantage of? I mentioned above that traveling often inspires more museum trips but I’m going to try to get out of my house and check out some of the museums that my hometown has to offer too. I do happen to live in a town that is filled with art and history, and I hardly ever pay attention to it.
Getting out of your house and embracing your surroundings is a great way to feel like you’re doing something. I’ve been trying to support more local businesses, testing out different coffee shops for my working days rather than going to the same spot every time. I’ve also been utilizing the farmer’s market more and I even went to my first group workout class in quite a while. I almost forgot how good it can feel to get out of the house and do things that surround you with other people.
Don’t let the weather stop you.
One thing I love about traveling is the way that I feel motivated to get out and do things, whether it’s pouring down rain, below freezing, or even the middle of a heat wave. When I’m home, it can be easy to decide to sit around most of the day and do nothing because it’s “so rainy”, or “it’s too cold” to go anywhere. I’m going to try to let go of that. I’m going to start embracing my “travel mindset” even when I’m at home.
Remember, this is only temporary.
Ultimately, I’m super antsy to travel again but I’m doing my best to remind myself that the current circumstances are only temporary. I’ll be living life on less of a budget one day, travel restrictions will (hopefully) ease up soon, we’re going to go somewhere again — it just may take time, patience, and understanding. I’m trying to be more patient and just embrace where I’m at today.
When was your last travel experience? Are you letting COVID hold you back or have you done and COVID friendly travel this year? Let me know in the comments!