The Cure for International Travel Withdrawal
I’m sure many of you had international adventures planned for 2020 and/or 2021. I had planned to return to France in the spring of 2020. Now we’re a year and a half into the pandemic and I still don’t see myself taking a 13-hour plane ride any time soon. Maybe some of you were brave enough to travel overseas this summer. I was not one of them, and I’m glad I didn’t risk it.
Going this long without visiting Europe has given me a major case of travel withdrawal. Symptoms include: lethargy, malaise and a general boredom with doing and seeing the same stuff day in and day out. If you love to travel — especially internationally — like I do, you know how important it is to your life, how much it feeds your soul, how much it stimulates your mind. I started thinking about all the ways travel enriches our lives. And then I thought about how I could create some of those same international travel benefits on a local level. I hope you find these suggestions a temporary remedy for your own travel withdrawal symptoms.
Shake up your routine with new experiences
One of the main reasons I travel is for the change of pace. I know routine is good for you, but too much of the same thing day in and day out makes me grumpy and restless. I’m addicted to new experiences, and I enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone.
The fact is, we don’t have to travel far to escape our everyday lives and shake things up a bit. A few hours doing something completely different can satisfy our yearning for new experiences and create a sense of renewal.
Here’s some new experiences I’ve manifested in the last few weeks:
Taking my laptop to a beautiful, shady park and writing amongst nature. My favorites parks in Portland, Oregon are Laurelhurst, Mt. Tabor and Sellwood where I can sit by the Willamette River.
Going blueberry picking for the first time at Morning Shade Farm in Canby. Gathering the biggest, juiciest, sweetest berries I have ever eaten was so much fun I went back again. You-pick apple and pear season is just starting.
Visiting two monasteries. They are often open to the public, offering a peaceful place to relax and sometimes to hike. One even sold chocolate truffles! Check online for a monastery near you.
Next week I’ll spend a week exploring the greater Seattle area. It’s only three hours away, but there are so many places in NW Washington I have yet to discover.
Experience new cultures and expand your perspective
A big part of the international travel experience is appreciating each country’s unique customs and ways of living. We open our minds to different perspectives when we see how others live, what they value, what they eat, how they work and how they relax. Now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with the customs of the country you want to visit.
Until it’s safe to travel again, I’m soaking up new perspectives by reading travel memoirs, mostly by people who have lived or experienced extended stays in France. It’s like living vicariously through someone else’s eyes, and it’s fun to see someone else’s perspective on the French experience and even on places I’ve visited myself. Memoirs I’ve read include I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany by Mark Greenside and At Home in France: Tales of an American and Her House Aboard by Ann Barry.
I’m also enjoying books on French culture, like The Bonjour Effect by Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau, as well as novels set in France. Hopefully these books will make up for all the months I’m missing interacting directly with French people and learning more about their lives and culture. I also love watching travel shows on YouTube and Rick Steves shows on PBS. You might even start to incorporate some European customs into your daily routine, like a British afternoon tea or an after-lunch siesta.
Learn a new language
While you’re soaking up all that European culture, why not learn some of the language of the country you want to visit. There are many great language courses available through your local library, on YouTube and online. Watching foreign movies is another fun way to familiarize yourself with the language and culture of a country. Won’t it be wonderful visiting that country knowing at least some of their language so you can more easily converse with locals.
I hope this stimulates your thinking about the benefits of international travel and helps you create similar experiences locally. You’ll be that much more prepared for your next European adventure when we can all safely travel overseas again. For more ideas, see my post A European Staycation in Your Own Backyard.
May this horrible pandemic be over sooner than later and may we all be able to travel again. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.
Comment below and let me know your coping strategies for international travel withdrawal.
One of the 17 gorgeous beaches in Sitges, Spain. I will be back!