To Travel or Not to Travel? 5 Ways to Explore Without Going Far
Updated: Apr 9, 2021
I’ve done a lot of reflection lately, especially in regards to travel. Is it necessary? Some would say no. Does it add value to our lives? Absolutely. I’ve felt guilty at times over the past year because I have craved unrestricted travel. Covid stalled several of my plans—including my plans to teach English abroad. I know it’s not wise to go far, so I’m making Pinterest board bucket lists. It will suffice, for now.
In our culture, travel often gets conflated with vacation, the kind you see in magazine advertisements, complete with expensive bungalows and white sand beaches—but vacations are only a subcategory of travel. There is also work travel, education-based travel, service work travel, all of which are important but still non-essential in the face of a global pandemic.
While travel may not be essential, it points to the heart of what is: exploration. Humans were made to explore. Just take a look at a history book; humans have been exploring since the dawn of time. According to NASA, “The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know and where we have been has provided benefits to our society for centuries.” Our desire to explore is primal and has greatly enhanced our understanding of the world.
Fortunately for us, while travel might be limited for the foreseeable future, our capacity to explore is not. So how can we nurture our need for exploration? Here are five ideas to help you stay out of the Covid rut.
1. Explore local spaces.
I love exploring my local area. Hiking at nearby state parks has saved me, quite literally. Fortunately, spending time outdoors is one of the safest things you can do as long as you take the proper precautions. It’s also no secret that nature can benefit our health in more ways than one—mentally, physically, and spiritually. Several studies have shown the impact nature has on our happiness. Is there an outdoor space within a two-hour radius of your home that you’ve never seen? Or is there a space you’ve not visited for a while? In a previous post, I talked about revisiting one of my favorite local parks that just happens to be thirty-minutes from my house. If driving somewhere is not an option, then having breakfast on your porch or taking a walk around your neighborhood can be great alternatives.
2. Try cooking new dishes.
Do you find yourself cooking the same three meals every week? Do you rely on takeout because you just can’t bring yourself to cook one more chicken recipe? Try making some new dishes to mix things up. This can be easily accomplished by hopping online and searching for some recipes that sound appealing. Pinterest is also a great resource because you can easily save recipes to a board and organize them by type. If you’re feeling bold, consider a meal subscription service. I tried HelloFresh for the first time last year and loved it. Not only did they deliver perfectly portioned ingredients straight to my door, but they introduced me to recipes that I would have never looked up on my own.
Reading is a form of exploration that anyone can do. Be it a novel, a Kindle e-book, or a memoir, any genre can transport you to another world and make you feel like you went on a crazy adventure. If books aren’t your thing, consider getting a magazine subscription for a topic that interests you. I recently took the plunge and got a National Geographic subscription. Their destination spotlights and award-winning photography give me a weekly dose of travel inspiration.
4. Get a hobby.
Did you know that having a regular hobby has been linked to greater health and well-being? Americans are known for working long hours, which usually doesn’t leave much time for hobbies, but carving out the time can actually improve your work performance. According to a study by the University of Sheffield, hobbies that require different skills from your job can boost energy and confidence at work. What is a hobby that has always interested you? Perhaps it’s trying a new sport, like trail biking or rock-climbing. Do you have a trumpet stashed in your attic from your school days? Maybe it’s time to dust it off and practice some favorite songs. Investing in a hobby is a guaranteed way to spice up your life and learn something new.
5. Make a plan.
Do you find yourself talking about that bucket list destination, but you’ve never actually made a plan to go? If your goal is to go international, then now might be a good time to make a travel plan for the future. There is countless research about the benefits of planning, and in many ways, the act of writing down a plan is therapeutic. One common finding is that planning increases the likelihood of follow-through. If you want to take it a step further, design a vision board. Vision boards are a visual representation of a goal you have. Regardless of whether you wrote out a plan or made a vision board, having a plan will help you take steps to make your goals a reality.
We live in strange and uncertain times, but the good news is that with a little creativity, we can continue to explore and learn more about ourselves and the world around us. So what about you—what will you explore next?