All text and photographs © Tess McLennan
One of the things I love most about heading off on a trip is what I like to call, ‘The Traveller’s Mindset’. The calm, the freedom, the relaxation, the focus… Everything I want to be in life, I am when I travel.
But like so many other travellers, as soon as I arrive back home, this mindset seems to disappear into thin air (just like most of my socks). As soon as we step off the plane in our hometowns, we are catapulted back into real life, and our old ways of thinking.
But I wonder, is it possible to bring some of the best parts of travelling home? Or should travelling and real life be separate entities, never meeting? Can we make The Traveller’s Mindset exist in real life, and still maintain decent jobs, homes and relationships? My answer as always is, ‘yes, we can’.
So read on to find out some of the ways you can bring The Traveller’s Mindset home with you… so that long after your trip is done, you can still retain some of that holiday magic, even when real life gets you down.
This is not an invitation to binge on cupcakes at the local bakery.
I’m talking about treating yourself like a prized possession.
Too often we put others before ourselves, when we really shouldn’t. We forsake our health, our time, our sanity… And while this is preferable to being a completely self-absorbed pig, there has to be a line. When we’re travelling, we tend to let our guard down. We allow ourselves to buy the beautiful dresses, eat something deliciously forbidden and generally do things that make us feel good.
We allow ourselves to be put first.
However, the hardest thing among the stresses of real life is finding time to do things that make us feel good about ourselves, the way we do when we are travelling. And when we do take that much needed time, we tend to feel guilty about it. Selfish even. But you shouldn’t feel this way, not at all. There is a difference between taking time for yourself and being outright selfish. It takes time to see it, but there is a distinction.
Have you ever heard that phrase, ‘If Mamma is happy, everybody is happy’? It rings true. And while I’m not a Mamma, of children, pets or plants, I can relate. Prior to writing this, I had been feeling quite cranky. And being the master of my own mind, I took this as a sign that I needed some downtime. I am a very busy person, and this is often hard to find… but in the spirit of keeping my sanity, I make time. I have learned to say ‘no’ to things that I’m not interested in, and I invest in things that make me happy. Once in a while, I do treat myself with a new dress, or a cupcake, or binge watch five episodes in a row of OITNB. When I am travelling, I sometimes take walks by myself, or a day to explore a city alone. I don’t care what people think, I don’t ask for company. I just go, because that alone time is important to me.
I’ve found that in order to be the best version of myself, I sometimes have to put my own needs before others, both in travelling and real life.
Read… Watch… Listen.
Interested in visiting Eastern Europe, the Welsh Coast, or the urban jungle of New York City? Six months until your trip and still saving those precious dollars? My answer is… read, watch, and listen.
Let’s face it, not all of us have the capacity to be full time travellers. We have careers, families and friends at home that also require our attention. The positive side of this is that travelling retains its magical feel. We don’t get to jet set everyday, which makes us much more appreciative of the times when we finally do get on a plane somewhere new. The downside? Itchy feet. But don’t worry, I have just the remedy for those afflicted.
In order to fill the space between trips (i.e. real life), I’ve found solace in other realms, namely the literary, historical and digital. That’s right… in order to keep myself in the mindset of exploration, I watch documentaries and films, listen to audiobooks, read regular books, and of course, write this blog. All of these things keep me inspired to travel, to not only explore new places but return to the old ones with fresh perspectives. And to cure my itchy feet when real life gets a little bit too hectic.
For example, I recently went through a phase where I was hooked on Scandinavian fiction, and in turn, I am now desperate to plan a trip there (the descriptions of the landscape were just too amazing to resist!) I got inspired to visit Wales after listening to an audiobook version of Clare Mackintosh’s ‘I Let You Go’. Visiting Krakow after seeing Schindler’s List was a haunting experience, and of course, I had to see New York because I loved Sex and the City.
And why stop at books and films? Food is also another fantastic way to keep the holiday vibe alive, and there is never a shortage of restaurants or recipes to choose from. These days, every super market is stocked full of foreign ingredients, so there is no excuse not to recreate that awesome dish you had overseas. For instance, my memories of Japan are kept alive everytime I indulge in Japanese food. Not into cooking? Suggest a different type of cuisine for your next get-together.
So you see, while travelling every day might not be an option, the mindset of exploration can be. Books, films, documentaries, foods… they’re the perfect substitute for when your next trip feels a million years away.
Embrace The World
Texts, emails, calls, Instagram, Facebook… does anybody else get offended when you’re at dinner and people pull out their phones, instead of engaging in conversation? Despite society’s overriding view that this is considered ‘rude behaviour’ (I mean really, did they not get the memo?), I still see people mindlessly scrolling in front of their friends at restaurants, and it drives me insane. I’m an old fashioned girl, and the real world will always be so much better.
One of the things I love about travelling is the fact that my phone doesn’t work like it usually does. I have to turn my data off to avoid the costs of international roaming (this means no Facebook or Instagram updates), nobody texts or calls me because I have a different Sim card (unless its my parents because I’ve gotten lost somewhere, the usual story), and all I can really do is wait until we find a place with Wi-Fi, and dear lord, enjoy the beauty of my surroundings.
So perhaps some of this mentality can be transferred to real life. When we travel without the interruption of technology, we are more focussed, aware and receptive of our surroundings, and there is no reason we can’t be this way when at home.
This doesn’t mean you have to turn off your phone, leave it in a drawer and retreat in a digital hiatus for days on end. In real life, I also find this behaviour annoying, especially when I’m trying to make plans with people. Simply lay down a few ground rules for yourself regarding technology, like some of these…
No phones at the dinner table, or any table for that matter. Tables are for conversation and wine only.
At home, turn your phone off silent, and only check if it rings.
5 pm is the cut off for checking work emails. I am very strict about this rule, and it’s very effective for managing my stress levels. I also only check my work emails on the weekends if I’m actually doing work.
Ask yourself what task you are doing, and do you really need your phone within reach? I recently made this rule for when I’m reading a book, or watching a show.
Put your phone across the room, and make yourself really, really comfortable, so you won’t want to get up and fetch it.
Exercise time = technology free zone. Need music to exercise? Get yourself an old fashioned IPod like me, and you won’t be interrupted by texts or Instagram updates while out running.
Try some of these, and you might just find that that real life has as much to offer as travelling life. You just have to get your eyes off the screen and embrace it.