It's that time of year where the travel bug really starts to gnaw at you. The sun is out, the sand and waves are calling your name. You bought that new suit case you see all over the internet. You've been saving up so your weekend getaway can extend into a week long adventure. Yeah, I get it. I grew up taking vacations how most people took vacations, in the early 90's and before—driving. My family drove everywhere. We lived everywhere too. There was always some new place to see or somewhere else we needed to go, so we did! My dad would always recite this phrase to us when we were off to a new place: “Wherever you go, make it your home.” That simple little sentence has stayed with me since I was barely old enough to remember traveling. Now, as an adult and avid traveler, I still carry that mentality everywhere I go. Over my years of moving and traveling, I’ve learned quite a few things--tips and tricks as some would say--along the way and I want to share a couple of them. I’m going to help you feel at home in any city—think of this as your “Guide to Feeling at Home Anywhere”.
Lesson 1: Geotagging is Your Friend
We live in a day and age when everyone, even my mom, has Instagram. Well, dare I say, this may be one of your most valuable tools. On Instagram there is a feature called geotagging, if you didn't already know, a feature that allows you to tag wherever location the photo that you’re posting is located. This is really handy for travelers because you can type in the town in which you are going and just scroll through photos until you find one you think is promising then proceed to “creep” from there. You can even get a little more crazy with this one, throw in some key words and you've got the holy grail.
Lesson 2: It Never Hurts to be Friendly
One thing that I am very fond of doing, as I travel, is reaching out to people in the area that I am going. Say that I’m going to Portland, Oregon by myself, but I want to have people to spend time with while I’m there—I would use various social platforms, particularly Instagram, to reach out to locals. Reaching out to locals is probably one of the most “stretching” parts of this, because you have to be brave enough and willing to make new friends. It is oh so rewarding though, because becoming friends with locals gives you access to all the best spots in the city. Take it a step further and once you've found that super sick coffee shop with your geotagging skills, post up there for a bit and talk to the cool people you see there. That girl with the bob and Betty bangs, ask her where her favorite bar is. That guy with the tattoos and Cafe Racer outside, find out where he eats his fav pizza or goes to his favorite shows. These people are a goldmine of great local spots--better yet, ask your Barista. They get paid to be nice when they make your Matcha Latte, plus they usually know what's up.
Lesson 3: Act Like You Belong
When I travel, I make it a point to research the city I’m traveling to so I have an idea of what I hope to see or try while I’m there. This helps because if you have a plan you’ll likely feel more comfortable which translates into confidence. Feeling confident helps you feel like you belong and helps you have more fun. I will say this though, don't be a jerk about it, and also don't be one of those obnoxious tourists that "defecates" on national landmarks and traditions. Be confident and be respectful.
Lesson 4: Take Lots of Photos
Every time I get home from a trip, whether it’s a long one or just a few days, I always wish I had taken more photos of the people with whom I’d adventured. I'm not talking about that killer pic of your brunch, where everything is angled perfectly. I'm talking about those blurry, standing in front of national monument pics. Sometimes in this social media culture we take so many trendy photos that are “social media worthy” we forget about the goofy ones that we'll actually cherish for a lifetime. Take tons of those, and I mean TONS! I promise you won’t regret it.
Lesson 5: Be Present
Remember that you’re in a different place than normal and you need to soak in all the beauty you can. Forget the deadlines at work, calling whomever, texting so-and-so, and just live. Look up at the sky, breathe in deeply, observe the people you see. Soak up the newness and beauty of your surroundings. Being present brings more fun, solidifies wonderful memories, and makes you feel more at home.
These lessons are just a few of the tips I’ve learned over the years and I still actively practice them to this day. Remember wherever you travel, make it your home. Home isn’t a location, it’s the feeling you carry in your heart. Since you carry the feeling of home with you, it should be pretty easy to feel at home. Now, go have some fun!