Travelling for me has always been a balm for the soul. Having the next big adventure booked felt necessary for my wellbeing- a freedom and privilege I definitely took for granted. The past year has been both a test and a gift in that I have been forced to re-evaluate my identity with and attachment to travel; in doing so, I have connected much more deeply to my immediate surroundings and exploration within my local community. This is something I often failed to value in the past, feeling the need to escape to a far corner of the world to seek the inspiration and lessons gleaned from travel.
It is a hard adjustment for me to embrace the ‘norm.’ I am prone to restlessness and can find it hard to settle into a routine, but if there is anything I have learned over the last year it is that routine can be incredibly grounding. While I will never be one to let go of novelty, I have enjoyed establishing ritualized moments or activities that allow me to sink into a level of comfort that I have come to love. Here are some of the most meaningful practices that I have embraced in the absence of travel:
- Enjoying local walks regularly; getting to know each route more intimately
Travel usually involves seeing a wide variety of locations and having new adventures each day- this is part of the draw and what makes it so exciting. However, exploring familiar places repeatedly allows me to slow down, take my time and settle into the experience more. I then notice details I would have otherwise missed and feel a greater sense of stewardship, belonging and sense of place. Taking side trails or finding secret spots to sit undisturbed keeps the sense of adventure alive. By re-visiting my favourite local parks more often, I now get to enjoy a deeper appreciation of my environment while taking in the subtle ebbs and flows of the landscapes.
- Calendar planning for weekly, monthly and annual local adventures to look forward to
Planning adventures close to home can bring the exact same thrill and anticipation as planning travel abroad. I have always enjoyed this aspect of travel; the process of researching puts me in a complete flow state. I now try to replicate this same experience with local getaways and day trips. The destination may not be as far-flung, but the joy is the same. The inner transformation that often occurs when exploring a new country can be sparked by seeking out the elements you are drawn to in a travel destination in your current environment. For me, this includes being near the ocean, coastal beaches and mountains.
- Reading more books than I have in years
During the pandemic, I rediscovered the nostalgic beauty of libraries. My dad is a huge fan of libraries and has been visiting them for years to browse and take out books. I always found this endearing but somehow ‘old-fashioned’ of him. I now completely retract this thought. Since signing up with the local library, I am reading more than ever- spending days off or cozy evenings learning about topics that interest me for the pure enjoyment of it. Nothing to be accomplished but to simply revel in the slow peace that page-turning can bring. Books with a theme of travel have been particularly healing during this time of anchoring in place.
- Valuing the beauty and lessons of each season
Living in alignment with the seasons and their unique rhythms has become a lifestyle that I’ve been trying to embrace more than ever this past year. Historically, when I had a far-away trip planned, whole seasons could go by in a blink while I anticipated my departure; I spent a lot of my time ‘waiting around’ for the next travel adventure or getaway. Being rooted in one place for an extended period of time has allowed me to be more fully present with the changes taking place in the natural world each month. Spring has been a particularly uplifting time with colourful blossoms perfuming the air, leaves velvety to the touch in their newness and ferns unfurling in spirals laced with gold- holding a promise of growth and renewal.
- Continuing to daydream
Part of the excitement of any trip for me is the initial idea and dreaming of it. Knowing that I will resume world travel at some point is enough to keep this fire alive within me. I have continued to follow travel blogs, read travel-themed magazines/books and watch movies or shows that are set in a destination I love. This helps to inspire ideas for future getaways, nourishes my spirit and keeps me from feeling stagnant. Spending so much more time being ‘still’ this year has allowed for recurring moments of creative planning and focused attention on my true values and desires.
Have you established any new rituals while exploring more of your city or region during the pandemic? Are you feeling impatient or inspired from spending so much time in a familiar environment?