Yes, I know, travel is addicting!
You go once, experience all that new culture, freedom, new friends, incredible scenery, and afterward you don’t want to stop.
Just after finishing your backpacking trip in Europe, you already have your eye on Southeast Asia.
Or, maybe after hearing some crazy stories from a guy who just finished a trip in South America…and before you own trip ends, you’re already thinking about Chile, Argentina, Ecuador…
But normally, there are two problems that stand in the way of your next trip: money and time.
Of course, not everyone can travel around the world full-time. For one, money doesn’t fall from the sky. And even if money isn’t a problem, sometimes you don’t have time thanks to personal commitments, work, or studies.
And there you find yourself in the following situation: “stuck” in your city or country (where you’ve perhaps been living for years), without any excitement in your day-to-day routine, counting the days (or the minutes 😉 ) until your next adventure around the world.
I’ve been really privileged to have traveled a lot in my life – although I did make many sacrifices and structured my life in a way that allowed me to travel more. But you can be certain I’ve been stuck for months or even years dreaming of my next trip. So, I completely understand others who find themselves in this same situation.
Truly, if the travel “bug” gets to you, it’s difficult to stay in one place and stay working in an office all day or in a classroom taking notes while your mind is “traveling” elsewhere. And that’s where the “travel blues” come in.
So, what should you do when the travel blues hit you – when you are going crazy to travel, but can’t for whatever reason?
To try to solve this problem, I developed a few techniques and activities that I hope will help you during the waiting process for your next trip. They will make the time pass more quickly and less painfully. There are all relatively easy and cheap to do and will work for basically any situation or place where you live…with just a few exceptions. Well, at least they’ve always worked for me.
Here they are….
Live in your own city as if you were a tourist.
Try to explore the place where you live. Check out the museums, theaters, parks that you’ve never been to, other neighborhoods, basically all that’s “new” to see where you live.
Last time I was in São Paulo, the city where I was born and raised, I did a “Free Walking Tour” of the city center. I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know about my city and I got to meet a bunch of foreigners during the tour who I then went out with for a few drinks. I even met up with a few of them the next day and showed them other parts of my city.
Obviously, this is difficult if you live in a small city without a lot of attractions, but there’s almost always something new for you to do. Break out of your routine!
Try to plan small weekend trips in the area.
Instead of staying in your city during the weekends, try to explore other cities, mountains, beaches and lakes nearby. No matter where you live, you can almost always find some interesting places nearby. When you go, try to stay in hostels so you can meet people from around the world to share experiences.
Make a monthly plan. Look up the attractions in the area that can be visited in a weekend and make a list. To be honest, I do this anytime I move to a new place (which is a common occurrence in my life). Something like a “bucket list,” but just a local one. I put everything into an Excel spreadsheet (nerdy, I know) but you can also just write it down dividing it like this:
- Activities/trips that fit into a single day
- Activities/trips that fit into a weekend
- Activities/trips that need more time and will only fit into a longer break
By filling out your monthly or even annual plan, you’ll always have something planned so you won’t find yourself on a Friday without plans for Saturday.
Host other travelers (foreigners or not) in your house through Couchsurfing.
But basically, it’s a website where you find people around the world that are willing to host you for a few nights in their homes. The idea is to have a cultural and social exchange between the guest and the host to have a more authentic trip. Since this exchange is free, it’s also a good way to save money on accommodation while traveling.
But what about when you’re not traveling? Well, YOU can try to be a host right in your hometown. Just sign up on the website and start hosting people, whether from your country or anywhere else in the world!
This is a great way to meet travelers from around the world and hear travel tips and experiences that can help you on your next trip.
And you don’t need a full bedroom with a proper bed and all that. The majority of people who use Couchsurfing are perfectly satisfied with a couch or a warm floor in the living room!
I’ve used Couchsurfing plenty of times and it has always been a cool experience…but you do have to be open to meeting different people with different life experiences.
Besides this, welcoming people into your home will be a great way to make friends around the world…. who you can then stay with when you visit their home countries (Savings and fun! Why not?).
Or if you don’t have space in your home, go to Couchsurfing events (which you can find around the world!)
Like I explain on our page 11 Tips to Meet People and Make Friends While Traveling, Couchsurfing isn’t just to host and “surf.” It’s also a tool for individuals with adventurous travel spirits to create events to get to meet people with the same likes and lifestyles.
You can go to these events while traveling, like I did once when I was in Helsinki, Finland alone without knowing anyone. I ended up going to a Couchsurfing event in a bar with some foreigners and some Finnish locals. It was great! We partied all night, went to someone’s house, partied again the next night, and two of them took me around to explore the city.
Okay, well I know that you’re not traveling at the moment (after all, that’s why you’re reading this article), but why not go to a Couchsurfing event in your own city?
This is something I’ve done, too. After more than a year and a half without visiting Brazil, I arrived in São Paulo kind of last minute on a Saturday night. The problem was that all of my friends already had plans.
And what did I do so I didn’t spend Saturday night going down the rabbit hole of the internet?
I search for São Paulo on Couchsurfing’s website to see if there was any meetup planned for that night…and yes, there was.
I went, met a ton of foreigners and cool Brazilians and had a great night! Besides this, you can add the people you meet personally at these meetups as friends on Couchsurfing…which will then help you either be a Couchsurfing host or be accepted as a guest.
Just go to the website NOW, search for your city, and check out the event calendar. For all you know, maybe there’s a meetup soon….
If possible, go on short and cheap international trips during long holidays.
Even if it’ll be a while until you can spend those 2 months traveling in Australia and New Zealand, nothing’s stopping you from short trips to neighboring countries.
For example, if you are from the US, look to Central America or Canada. Or if you’re from Europe, check out other European countries or North Africa. Depending on where you live, these places are neither expensive nor difficult to get. Sometimes, you don’t even need to fly…you can go by car, train or even bus.
I know that this might not be the country that you really want to visit for nor the length of time you want to have…but if you can’t follow through with a big dream for now, why not look to smaller ones?
Get to know your neighbors and explore them. Here’s a few examples of how easy this can be:
- If you’re from the European Union, you can visit other EU countries with just a national ID (no need to spend time and money applying for a passport!).
- If you’re in Europe or Southeast Asia, you can get fly really cheaply within these two regions by using low-cost carriers.
- Just don’t forget that even if you leave your country only for a weekend, you’ll still need to get travel insurance to make sure you’re covered. You can learn more in our article about the 3 Best and Cheapest Travel Insurance Companies.
Use this free time to prepare for your next trip in detail (even if you won’t actually go on this trip!).
I know that this idea might seem a bit goofy, but I like it all the same. What you can do from time to time is plan trips for parts of the world that you’d to visit in the near future, or for that big, once-in-lifetime trip.
So when the day arrives, everything is all ready. For example, you decide to look into the Caucuses and see which cities and countries you’d like to visit. To do this, you’ll have to read and learn about the area, its culture, its attractions, etc…it’s a way of traveling from a distance. For some ideas, check out our page about How to Prepare Your Travel Itinerary from A to Z.
And as I always say, part of the fun of travel is the planning itself – when you begin to research and dream about the places that you’re off to see.
To be honest, I once planned a trip leaving from Roraima in the north of Brazil, crossing Venezuela, and then going to the island of Trinidad and Tobago. I researched transportation, tickets across the border, boats to the islands…etc…and in the end, for a few reasons, this trip never happened.
Either way, I expanded my knowledge of the area and its history…which is much better than spending time watching soap operas or reality TV!
Since you can’t travel now, take advantage of this time to save up as much money as you can!
This is especially valid if money, not time, is what’s holding you back from traveling. Make some sacrifices during this period until you can save up enough to afford your next trip.
And when I say save, I mean save! Like really tighten your belt.
A good line of thinking to help you is to compare how much you are spending (or saving) with what you could use the money for abroad. For example, that money you spend on an expensive Starbucks coffee could be used for a meal in Thailand or Vietnam. That Gatorade? Same idea.
I know that it might seem like I’m exaggerating about these savings, but without some sacrifice, you can’t achieve any goals.
To help you out, just take a look at our article How I Save Money to Travel So Much – 17 Tips!
BONUS: This idea is more difficult to follow because it requires a radical life change! But it’s basically how I base my own life – take mini-retirements throughout the years!
Instead of working your whole life like crazy and only relaxing and traveling when you’re older, try to work hard for 2-3 years, save the most money you can, and then take a “mini-retirement” and travel for 3-6 months.
For this, you’ll have to completely rearrange your life and career to have a travel-centric life. But this is essentially what I do. Of course, it’s not easy and demands a lot of sacrifices, mostly in terms of material things, but I don’t regret it!
For example, Nikki and I have almost no material possessions (house, furniture, car, TV, a lot of clothing, etc.) because we prefer to use our money towards traveling.
I know how difficult it can be to be stuck at an office when all you want to do is explore the world outside. But don’t despair! There are ways to satisfy this urge in your everyday life, right where you live. Just follow the tips above, and your next trip will arrive before you know it.
And for the big trip itself, create a plan of action, follow it religiously, and head out in search of what makes you happy…(just make sure you’re financially responsible )
How do YOU deal with wanderlust when you can’t travel? Do you have any tips for us? Please let us know in the comments below.
To learn about my favorite travel companies and resources that let me travel so much for such a low cost, take a look at my special page of “81 Travel Apps & Resources.”
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