This long weekend finds us convalescing at home yet again. It also finds us feeling very restless through the flu, brimming with wanderlust and feeling homesick for the places we haven’t yet discovered. No money, no leave from work, too many responsibilities, there are times when for whatever reason you can’t travel, but that fernweh (another fancy word for wanderlust) is seeming to get the better of you. What do we do? Read on for our tried and tested tips on how to travel at home. There’s so much that can make you feel like you’re out discovering a new place, you won’t even realise you never left home.
1. Read/ Watch/ Listen
We love watching movies. Even more so when they take us travelling. While foreign language subtitled films are great, they can get a bit intense at times, so there’s always mainstream Hollywood set in another country or based on travels as well. Loads of excellent memoirs and travel themed books can transport you in an instant, as do Charles’ Sunday Morning Playlists that feature all sorts of eclectic music from around the world. What did we enjoying reading/ watching/ listening to recently? Bill Bryson’s Down Under/ The Grand Budapest Hotel/ The Girl from Ipanema.
2. Take a staycation
We love hotels. So much so that we’ve collected some interesting ways to spruce up our home and make it feel as luxurious as a hotel, but naturally there’s nothing nicer than checking into a hotel. Whether in your own neighbourhood or a completely different one, it can make you feel like a visitor to the city, allow you to enjoy being waited on hand and foot, unwind at the spa, and truly get to enjoy the room without feeling the need to rush out and discover the city. And since you’ll be saving on the travel costs, you can really afford to splurge on the nicest room around! Over the years we’ve enjoyed staycations at the Oberoi, Hyatt, Intercontinental and more in our hometown of Mumbai.
3. Try a new cuisine
We love food. We love diving into the local cuisine when we travel. We also love trying to recreate in our kitchen when we return (armed with tips from local cooking classes we take when we travel) But even if you aren’t interested in stepping into the kitchen, there’s always a new restaurant with a new cuisine somewhere in your city just waiting to be discovered. And what better way to understand a different culture than through their food. One of our favourite discoveries is Kofuku which serves some lovely Japanese in Bandra, just a couple of blocks from our house.
4. Learn a new language
We love languages. And learning a couple of phrases can really help you make friends or get great service in a new country. I’m still pretty thrilled about how I managed to order another glass of OJ with a “Una altra si ous plau” much to our bartender’s delight in Barcelona. And I still can’t believe Charles wished a French friend we made on a flight in Chiang Mai with “Bonne Journee et Bon Chance”. I’ve recently started some French classes at the Alliance Francaise in Mumbai to brush up my rusty french, hopefully master it, and enjoy immersing myself in the culture. After all, learning a language isn’t just about the grammar and vocab, it’s also about understanding the cultural nuances and history, interacting with fellow francophiles in this case and maybe even some expats.
5. Take a tour
Join a photowalk or foodiewalk around your city, hop onto a bus or a train just to take in the sights or walk through a new neighbourhood, take a different route to work every day, or visit a monument or museum like a tourist. You’ll be surprised to find some amazing things you never knew existed in your hometown. In Mumbai, we were thrilled to find the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Chor Bazaar and back when I was living in Pune, I never knew the 8th century Pataleshwar temple hid in the rocks around the corner from my house until my college took the new students on an orientation tour of the city. More recently, we crawled through the underbelly of Dharavi (Asia’s largest slum) and discovered thriving industries inside. Read about our experience with the Dharavi Tour here.
6. Host Couchsurfers
Hosting travellers in your own city is firstly a great way to see your city from a new perspective while showing them around. Secondly, couchsurfing as a concept allows for an exchange of ideas, cultures and more. While they’re learning about your way of life, you’re also learning about theirs. And I don’t know how many couch-hosters have been as lucky as us, but we came home to some beautiful gourmet style yet home-cooked English dinners practically every day of the week when Kimmi and Brett stayed with us. (Ok maybe I’m making this sound too good to be true, and yes, it probably won’t happen to you, but here’s hoping).
What do you do to appease the wanderlust within when you can’t head out?