I have some exciting news. Recently, I just bought my first house! The whole process is exciting and terrifying and comes with a lot more work and expenses than I imagined. It’s a really fun and creative process to have some remodeling done to a place that you get to call your very own. As someone who can’t use their hands very well I am having to find really creative – and often expensive ways to get the little things done in my house. Like building a bookshelf, cutting the lawn, building ramps, hanging up artwork, doing some painting, and so…so much more. I of course have wonderful friends who have offered to pitch in and I will take them up on their offer, but I certainly am not going to ask them to quit their day jobs to beautify my house! Besides I’ve seen some of their handiwork – and Leonardo da Vinci would not be impressed. Just kidding – sort of! So I’ve planned for this, I’ve budgeted for this, and although watching those dollar bills slip from my fingers makes me a little queasy – I am SO ready for this! What this does mean for me, is that a lot of my travel plans have been put on the back burner. I just can’t justify some of the expenses that come with even cheap travel at the moment.
While I do believe lots of folks who say they can’t travel are making excuses based on the fear of taking a big leap, I also know that there are lots of reasons why travel just is not an option at a certain point in life. Maybe you are dealing with some chronic pain, or pressure sores that would not withstand longer journeys, or are waiting on an upcoming surgery or procedure. Maybe you just have kids or parents that need you to stay put at the moment. And although there are ways to budget and save for travel, some chapters in life presents us with a metaphorical bank robber asking us to stick our hands in the air and give him all our money. Sometimes there are solutions to these problems – and sometimes that solution is to shelter in place. Life is not always that simple, and it is certainly not that simple for those of us who battle with a disability, or illness, or any other physical barrier – no matter how slight.
So, although I am so happy to be experiencing this chapter of my life – I’m also a little wistful for that feeling of adventure and purpose…and general bad assness.
For me, travel ends up being about discovery, escape, confidence, food, and just learning how we all fit together on the only habitable place that we know of in the entire universe. The destination really isn’t all that important. So, in the slow time in my travel life I’ve put together a list of what to do if the travel fairy skipped your house this year.
Check out Meetup– to find a group of any type. Honestly, I was a little nervous to meet a bunch of new people. I was a little worried about being judged, about being able to function independently, and certainly about making sure my jokes were appropriate and not super cringe worthy. But I found that this experience brought some of those same feelings as travel. A little bit of nerves, but when I was done I felt super confident and proud of myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone. Unless you are a super-duper extrovert I think everybody has some nerves in this type of situation, and being able to overcome those is an incredibly valuable experience. I’m gonna be honest, I felt like Beyoncé when I left – hair blowing in the wind, super confident. I could’ve had toilet paper draped off my shoe and I still would have felt like I was the only cold beer in Texas. My dog Gambit certainly did not appreciate the doggie meet up I chose – as he feels that he is a person and has no interest in being around other maingy 4 legged animals. I’m certain he would walk on 2 feet if he was able. Hell- we both would! However, I was proud of myself for going. I made a few new friends, and I may even go back and make the G man try again!
Watch a foreign film or TV show. It’s not a lot, but immersing yourself in another culture for a couple hours can really help scratch the travel itch. Besides, reading the subtitles makes me feel smart and educated.
Read some travel guides. Do you have a few bucket list places? Pick up a travel guide and start Peru-zing (see what I did there?) through it. Find out what looks good, what is a definite yes and what is a no fucking way. The Internet is full of ridiculous resources – sometimes just picking up a book narrows down some options. Keep your eyes peeled on Amazon because often they have free or discounted books. Or, if you have fingers that turn pages relatively well – go to Goodwill or a used bookstore. Lots of people get rid of their travel guides once they are done with them. Keep them on your coffee table, picture yourself in that bikini in Tahiti.
Sign up for travel blogs. I’m going to be a little bit honest here. There are so so so many out there! I could probably recommend a few – but that’s only because I like them. Some of them are focused on wheelchair traveling, some of them on budget traveling, some on kick ass women independently trucking around the world, blogs with great photography, and just general travel blogs that I feel are written really well. And, I mean, you can always check back here for my infrequent posts! Here is a list to get you started and maybe in another post I’ll share the blogs that I personally follow.
Try to enjoy the wait. I read an article in the Journal of Applied Research that was focused on quality of life. The researchers studied the happiness associated around the process of going on vacation. In the study of a little over 1500 adults they found:
Possibly, anticipation played an important role in explaining the observed differences in pre-trip happiness between vacationers and non-vacationers. Holiday trips are experiences which people look forward to (Miller et al. 2007). For most, the enjoyment starts weeks, even months before the holiday actually begins.
So even if you’re not even close, it sounds like it’s worth it to keep yourself involved in future plans. This is good news for those of us who just can’t jump on an airplane right now. This research shows us that planning is a big part of the enjoyment we get from travel. So maybe the bikini in Tahiti will have to wait – but planning that beach body can start now.
Practice Mindfulness. Yeah, I’m new to this. I get it, it’s also a little bit trendy – barf! But it does have a significant practical purpose. It helps keep you focused and motivated. It helps to teach you to pay attention, notice things, and live in the moment, be present. And this is the type of life that we strive for. It doesn’t take the place of travel – but some of the things that we enjoy about travel could be found in a little bit of mindfulness. I use the app Headspace, because I am a newbie, and I need some guidance figuring this whole thing out. I enjoy it, and most my sessions are only 10 minutes – which is certainly something even a girl with ADD can manage!
Sit and watch the sunset. Why don’t I do this more? I do it so often on vacation! I have so many photos from different times in my life and from all over the world with a stunning setting sun. I suppose you could also do a sunrise – but, let’s be honest- a sunrise can’t be done with a glass of red. A mimosa, maybe. But here’s the thing, I enjoy thinking about those sunsets because I was sitting there with a friend, or in a moment of peace and self reflection, or just had a bangin cocktail. I was fully present in that moment and enjoying the beauty. Apparently, here at home my DVR, computer games, and chores take precedent over that. I’m an idiot, and will definitely be taking a few more minutes to enjoy the sunset on my new back deck this summer.
It may be a little while before I go wheels up again, but I’m not going to let that stop me from living the life!