We’re not all lucky enough to travel all of the time.
Chances are that unless you’re a travel writer, roving salesperson, international spy or Rolf Potts, your excursions overseas are most likely to be measured in weeks or months rather than years.
So how do you keep the travel buzz going in between trips?
Whether you’re saving for your first overseas excursion, recently returned from an around the world trip or just in between travels, the below tips are to encourage you to keep traveling – at home.
Explore your own country
In this age of cheap international travel its easy to focus on overseas destinations.
How many of us have claimed that we’ll see our own country when we’re older? But older often brings with it commitments.
Now is the best time to go on that road trip, reconnect with friends in different cities or explore the the countryside.
State or federal tourist offices are a great place to start in planning a trip. While they’ll tell you about the obvious locations and activities to see and do, they’re also great sources of information about quirky museums, out of the way towns and under the radar festivals.
Photography forces you to look at familiar objects in a new way. Even that cafe you’ve been going to for years will offer new angles when seen through the view finder.
And the best thing is that with local knowledge, you’ll know when the interesting characters will be there, or when the best afternoon light will stream through the window.
Taking photos at home also develops your skills so that when you’re standing at the entrance to somewhere like Angkor Wat you’ve got a better chance of taking a great photo.
Photo community sites like Flickr.com can show you how visitors have photographed your home town, giving you a fresh perspective.
Get to know ethnic neighbourhoods
I’m not talking about those slightly tacky Chinatowns that seem to have more tourists than actual Chinese.
I’m talking about real ethnic neighbourhoods with thriving markets, cosy cafes and speciality food stores selling things you’ve never seen before, let alone know how to cook.
These neighbourhoods are great places for an authentic meal in a family-run restaurant. It gives you the chance to pick up some of the language – a please and thank you can go a long way overseas – as well as the opportunity to train your palate to appreciate new tastes ready for the next destination.
Research your next trip
Travel doesn’t have to begin at the airport. It can start weeks or months earlier at home, discussing plans with your travel buddy, looking over maps and researching destinations on the internet.
But don’t obsess – a little information can go a long way. Landing in an airport in a foreign country is still the single most challenging part of travelling for many.
A reputable guide book will tell you that a bus from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to Khao San Road is dirt cheap, but it may fail to mention it can also can take hours.
Better to spend a little extra and jump in an air conditioned taxi to give you more time to explore the city – from outside the confines of a sweaty bus.
Read travel blogs
A guidebook is good for giving you the basics. But to find out what a destination is really like you can’t go past first-hand accounts from everyday travellers.
You may not know them personally, but through their blog posts they’ll tell you about the best bus operators, recommend guest houses and warn you about scams. Best of all the information is interactive. Leaving comments is a great way to kick start a friendship with a fellow traveller.
Matador Travel has taken that a step further by encouraging people to nominate themselves as local experts, swap tips on the forum and contribute travel articles.
Host a fellow traveler
Offering your couch to a traveler for a few nights is a win-win situation, They get a roof over their heads and the chance to learn about the town from someone that knows it best – you.
In return, you get to play tour guide (who doesn’t like showing off their home town?) and have a friend in another city or country that you can stay with on your next travels.
Popular websites like Couchsurfing are a great start and have a system where users vouch for each other. But even more general social networks like Facebook and MySpace can help to connect friends of friends looking for somewhere to crash for a night or two.
What tips do you offer for keeping the travel flame alive while at home? Share your advice in the comments!