Travel can allow for growing, learning, and understanding ourselves and the world we inhabit. During my months-long stay in Mexico—where I’ve met so many people from different cultures, who think differently than I do—I’ve felt the reality of this introspective, mind-opening treat firsthand. But trips don’t last forever; eventually jet-setters head home to the environment they left behind: They return to jobs, adhere to the same cultural conventions, and are usually surrounded by the same people they knew before. While I have yet to book a return ticket home from my trip, I’m already concerned about being able to maintain my open-to-newness vibe in a world that’s hardly fresh to me. But I’ve heard from my well-traveled new friends that it’s totally possible to maintain a vacation mind-set IRL.
Several have told me that they feel more themselves when they travel, more at peace, braver, and more capable of handling tough situations. They want to keep this energy alive, because they live better this way. But how? Well, travel mind-set is just that—a state of mind. Here are seven tips from globe-trotters who have figured out how to make real life feel like a vacation.
7 tips from seasoned travelers for maintaining your vacay mind-set at home.
1. Cook dishes you ate while traveling
Since food is such an integral part of every culture, making a dish from your travels can catapult you back to the feelings you had there via the scent of the food and the familiar process. “When I assemble my mise en place before cooking a meal, I feel an exhilaration similar to when I travel. It’s so foreign,” says Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate, a Forbes 2017 Top Travel Influencer.
You best believe I’m going to buy myself a tortilla flattener once I return home from Mexico. And every time I use it, I’ll think of all the collective hours I spent leisurely watching women masterly roll fresh maíz dough into a ball, press it, and cook it on a pan over an open flame, turning the tortillas with their bare hands.
2. Remain within the travel community
While on an extended trip to Europe, 28-year-old Mexico native Estefanía Pérez Ramos met great locals who elevated her experience. Upon returning, she wanted to offer the same positive spirit and help to other travelers—so she became a Couchsurfing host. “With people passing by now and then, I was discovering new worlds. Sometimes I was traveling through their stories or the foreign meals we cooked together.”
There are ways to stay ensconced in the travel community without literally opening your home and private life, though. For instance, Ramos and a friend send each other postcards whenever they travel to reignite the travel spirit within each other. Meetup is another resource for finding nearby events for travelers. “I tried Meet Up in Germany, and it really is awesome how people got together for drinks or talking in different languages, dancing, or making little trips,” she says. There’s no reason why you couldn’t use the social platform the same way, but in your home city.
3. Make time for the routines you had while traveling
“Maintain the activities you did in your daily life [while traveling]—whether that’s cooking, helping people, letting yourself be helped, having enthusiasm for new things,” says Ramos. “These trivial habits will let you keep your travel mind-set alive.”
Annika Keyler, 25, and Merlín Idris, 26, were classmates back in their native Germany, and are now independently traveling but meeting up in certain cities. When I was with them in the Zen and dreamy Isla Holbox, the three of us gathered on the beach to watch a truly stunning sunset. In fact, they suggest walking barefoot and enjoying a sunset—wherever you are geographically. How often do you take the time to appreciate a sunset at home?
4. Act like a tourist in your home city
No matter what city you’re in, there’s always something new to discover, says Well+Good associate beauty and fitness editor Zoe Weiner, who traveled for a year via remote-work program Remote Year. “My trip made me less afraid to try new things. When I was traveling full-time, I didn’t bat an eye at things like skydiving or taking a five-day motorcycle trip across Chile. It definitely gave me more of a YOLO attitude toward life.”
5. Do a Marie Kondo–style sweep as soon as you return home
The best time to go on a Marie Kondo-style tidying-up binge is right after a long trip, when you understand better than ever just how few material items you really need. “The clean out allows you to make room for the changes within you,” says Keyler. “Being stuck in your routine makes it hard to make changes. But after travel, you are a master of change.”
6. Wear your travels, and live among them, too
Filling your home with practical souvenirs you actually use will help to keep the memory of your trips—and how you felt on them—alive. “Whether it’s an antique map from a shop in Wales, or a set of placemats from Cape Town, just seeing these items floods me with happy travel memories,” says McCulley.
Jewelry can also do the trick (so, feel great about spontaneously splurging on an investment piece while on the road). Keyler traveled in Costa Rica for three months, and five years later, she has yet to take off the bracelets that she bought while there. “Every time I look at them, I think of that trip and all the reasons it was so important to me.” She adds that other physical reminders of travels also work, like throwing on the clothes you wore during that time or getting a sentimental tattoo that channels the essence of your trip.
7. Prioritize experiences, not material items
When you have a stressful, time-consuming job, as Renée Cheng, 29, does in her native Taiwan, focusing on yourself and keeping your travel mind-set alive can be especially challenging. For her, that centering, mind-opening lifestyle only exists when she travels, which is why—after taking a two-year trip that led her reexamine her goals—she decided to seriously prioritize travel. While at home, she curbs her impulse to shop for material items. “You start to to learn to give something up for travel and to put in some effort for balance between my work and travel,” she adds.
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