This post is for all of you pining with wanderlust but no concrete travel plans yet. Maybe you’re “stuck” at home all summer with work, maybe you’re short on funds, or maybe you’ve already gone on vacation but are suffering from #fomo (fear of missing out) looking at your friends’ Instagram photos from travels abroad.

Whatever the case, I have tips for you to “travel” and explore locally.

Many of us fall into the trap of thinking that our own neighborhood or town is boring because we’re so used to it. One of the best parts of traveling, of course, is encountering things that are new to you.

So, today I’m going to challenge you to pretend you’re a newcomer to your city. If it was your first time encountering your neighborhood, how would you see the street you live on, the cafe a few blocks away, or the trees and flowers lining the commercial streets? Pay extra close attention to what’s around your house and your larger community.

For example, since I’ve come back home to the East Bay (from Philadelphia), I’ve enjoyed afternoon walks around my neighborhood to the small bay front park. I pass by beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, encounter friendly moms and their little children, and older folks getting their daily exercise. Every day I notice something (what type of tree is that?) or someone new (who is that man who walks with his dog and cat every day around the block?). I’ve even managed to capture magnificent sunset pictures that make me feel the magic of adventure super close to home. I think you’ll be surprised at the mini oases and secret gardens that you come across!

If you have a camera (or even a smartphone), now is the time to let your inner photographer out! Be a tourist in your neighborhood. Sure, you might get some quizzical looks when you’re crouched down in the middle of the pavement taking photos of a flower you’ve never noticed before. But hey, this is your time to explore.

Of course, you don’t even have to stay in your neighborhood. Is there a part of a nearby city that you’ve meant to explore? Just last week, I went to visit the Mosaic Steps in San Francisco. Perhaps it’s touristy, but I’d never seen this attraction in my 25 years in the Bay. Or how about revisiting some childhood haunts? Is there a restaurant, coffee shop or museum that you’ve always been meaning to try, but never get around to visit?

My point is this: now is the time to explore these places, both old and new. While I share your longing for foreign sights, sounds, and scrumptious pastries, I’m also really enjoying exploring what is right in my backyard.

Some things to try:
Bring a book about your dream destination with you on your next walk, hike or exploration. Find a fabulous spot, and sit down with your book for a while. You’ll have the best of both worlds – reading about a place far away in your newly discovered local spot.

Learn a language. I promise it will heal a bit of your wanderlust. Learn that language you’ve always been meaning to learn. It’s great preparation for when you get a chance to travel far away 😉

Happy travels and explorations!