Photo: CREATISTA/Shutterstock

How to Deal With Travel Envy

Student Work Culture
by Jacqueline Kehoe Feb 23, 2015

1. Take a break from the travel blogs.

Ugh. Admit it: you only look at most of them for the pretty pictures, anyway. Most of the content is trite, lacking, ridden with self-aggrandizing language, and the more-than-occasional typo. They’re the Facebook of the travel industry and sometimes you just need to take a break for a while. If you’re really addicted, switch to plain ol’ international news outlets, literary travel writing, and commercial websites. They’re less personal and more educational — and therefore more likely to fuel the fires of motivation instead of the fires of jealousy.

2. Start planning a trip now.

It doesn’t matter if it’s never going to happen; just do it. Go on and find the cheapest routes out of your preferred airport. Once you find a couple of destinations you wouldn’t mind going to, research them. Find reviews on non-shitty hostels or respectable but out-of-the-way boutique hotels, what hot spots you want to be seen drinking mojitos in, what tattooed characters you want to make out with in which sleazy dive bars, and what photos you just have to take for your blog because if you didn’t, you’d hate yourself. Get it down to an art. Maybe you’ll go, maybe you won’t. But you’ll probably go.

3. Create your travel budget.

This is not a trip budget: this is a travel budget — there’s a difference. One is allotting how much money to spend on what things, and the other is how much money you can cut down. You’ve been spending your money to live, not spending your money to travel. Now that you know there’s someplace beckoning you in your immediate future — or many, many places — it’s time to listen to that and start saving up. You may not spend this money for six months, you may not spend this money for two years — but it’ll be there when you finally need it. Where does it come from? That skipped latte, the move to just Netflix, the weekend-home-cooking vow. It’s not how much money you need, it’s how much money you can save.

4. Start an at-home “around the world” tour.

Sometimes when you’re stuck at home, slaving away at your 9 to 5 saving up, or simply just waiting for the rainy season to pass, you’ve gotta bring the world to you. Document all the interesting types of cuisine in your area — is there an Ethiopian place you’ve yet to try? Maybe Burmese? If you live somewhere with a little less ethnic flavor, consider that an occasion for a dinner party. In this scenario, the internet is your best friend.

But it doesn’t stop at just food. Check out that Czech museum 45 minutes away. Go see that Lithuanian Polka band that you would otherwise never go to. Just because you’re “at home” doesn’t mean you have to do “at-home” things. Your world can be whatever you want it to be if you’re willing to create it.

5. Fill your schedule with “somethings” instead of “somewheres.”

Traveling isn’t just about going — it’s about doing, too. If you simply went to Istanbul and didn’t do anything, that wouldn’t be much of a trip, right? Life isn’t about where you are, but what you’re doing with it. “Exotic” and “adventurous” are subjective, and you have the means to do interesting, write-home worthy things without booking a $1500 plane ticket to Timbuktu. The reason home feels like home is because it’s full of daily routines. When you switch up those routines — when you take a Saturday to go zip-lining or a night to stay at a B&B — home no longer feels like monotonous, run-of-the-mill home. Keep busy and your life can feel enriching wherever you are.

6. Start reaching out to all your global acquaintances.

Keeping busy will feel good, but there will always be that itch to go somewhere you don’t recognize, where your senses are on high alert and your adrenaline is flowing freely. As part of this keeping busy, living-globally-at-home lifestyle, start hitting up all your friends around the world just to say “Hi.” Get back into their good graces, since it’s probably been a while since you’ve had a chat. Drop a convivial, un-needy line now and you can drop the actual bomb later: “Hey, can I crash on your couch in a couple of months?”

7. Funnel your creativity into a project.

You have all this zest, this fire, this drive — why not do something with it? Plan a mystery trip for you and a few friends. Paint one of your favorite scenes. Start writing about the places you’ve been. Heck, this could be the green light for what you’re meant to do: selling your baklava to local bakeries, planning local tourism events, or heading up a language club. And who knows? It could be your ticket on the next train out whether it’s through meeting new people, hearing of new opportunities, or just getting you closer to where you want to be. And even if it doesn’t, your schedule will feel worthwhile, productive, and feel like a step in the right direction.

8. Remember your hometown is a destination to someone else.

There are so few places on Earth that have never seen a tourist; odds are if you’re reading this, you’re not in one. There is someone right now who is Googling your town and wondering (and finding!) fun things to do. Put yourself in their shoes: where’s the best cup of coffee? Where’s the closest, most accessible adrenaline rush? The best bike path or vegetarian burrito? And when you find something worthy, take pictures of it. Open your eyes and look around like you’re seeing it for the first time. What’s something you’ve never noticed before? When you channel your inner tourist, when you realize your adventure is just as unique as anyone else’s, you’ll feel a little sated. Your resolve will be that much stronger, and when that monster starts whispering again, you’ll know just where to tell her she can go.

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