How to Travel Without Traveling

I have finally found that girl who wrote the journal.

golden gate bridge
PHOTO Gillian Rose

As a college student as well as a relentless traveler, I’ve often found myself jittery and even dejected when I am home for months at a time. Though I would feel a new spark of energy after returning from my travels, that fiery zest seemed to dim and then fade as the weeks progressed. It’s always an odd and difficult transition to move from wandering and meeting new people day-by-day, to then carry on with a far more regimented, scheduled way of life. Whether we like it or not, routine can feel very monotonous.

One day, when I was feeling particularly nostalgic, I decided to take a look back at my old travel journals. Flipping through the pages, I noticed that my handwriting looked unfamiliar, I used different vocabulary, and there was a changed tone to my writing. It felt as though I was reading someone else’s journal. Who is this person and where did she go?

I wanted to bring her back. But, of course, I did not have the luxury of hopping on a plane to the middle of a different continent this time. I would have to dig a little deeper and access this person internally instead of externally.

In doing so, I realized that when I travel, I simply have a change in my way of thinking: a ‘travel mentality’, if you will. More than putting oneself in a different place, having a traveler’s mindset is an attitude: it’s a certain incessant curiosity, an inherent ability to adapt and learn, and a sense of complete awe with the world. Was there a way for me to maintain this inquisitiveness and lust for life while also sustaining my daily routine? I figured that there must be some way to have this backpacker’s outlook without dropping out of college and running away to become a yoga instructor in Portugal (at least for now!).

I decided that I would become a traveler within my own city. I began to use websites that are catered mostly to tourists, like Time Out,  Tripadvisor, and Thrillest. With the help of these websites, I started to take myself on weekly “dates”, where I’d check out a new exhibit, comedy show, restaurant, or area of town that I’d never been to before. I made a point to only have myself as company in order to get that same feeling of traveling alone. It was wonderful– I quickly began to get that thrilling, uncomfortable yet incredibly warm feeling of solo travel that I so crave when I’m at home.

I also began to elect days where I ditched the GPS, hopped on my bike, and took myself on a ride. If I usually took a right, I’d take a left. Although Google Maps is a life saver, it also inhibits us from feeling lost, which can be an amazing feeling (when given enough time of course!). I quickly began to see new parts of my city that I never knew existed. That sense of wonder that I had been itching for felt restored.

By signing up for Couchsurfing, I was able to meet foreigners who were traveling to my city. In this way, I could experience a different culture without jumping on a airplane. Their amazement with my home helped me rediscover my city in a way I never thought possible. And in return, I know that I have many friends around the globe who will be happy to show me their home when I’m able to explore.

Truth be told, if you’re a traveler at heart, you will be a traveler at home. Though it takes some added effort and a little bit of free time, it is very possible to travel without traveling at all.

While I still find myself yearning to get away, my change in mentality has helped to rewire my brain in beautifully unimagined way.

I have finally found that girl who wrote the journal.

Gillian Rose

Contributing Editor

Since graduating from Berkeley with a degree in international development, Gillian has lived in four continents and currently calls Tel Aviv home. She speaks five languages and is an avid traveler, foodie, and lifelong student. As a yoga, breathwork, and meditation teacher, Gillian has a deep passion for somatic healing.

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