Sometimes, as Rose tells Sue Ellen in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, “I really need to get away.” Unfortunately, that need doesn’t always coincide with periods of my life in which I can actually skip town — or the country. Work, volunteering, and social obligations may keep me tied to NYC, or my bank account may not be in the ideal condition for an impromptu jaunt around Eastern Europe.
What I love most about traveling is the feeling of being taken out of my daily routine. The good news is that even when I can’t get away, this feeling is something I can replicate — often without even leaving my neighborhood. Below, a few ideas for how you can do the same:
1. Find new things to do in your town or city.
If you live in a major city, the New York Times‘ 36 Hours series may introduce you to a new spot in your own neighborhood. (I’m writing this from Brooklyn Roasting Plant’s DUMBO headquarters, which I hadn’t been to before reading this article.) But even in a small town, there’s probably something you haven’t done before. Ask a few friends for their top three things to do in your city, and you’re bound to get a bunch of different answers. It may lead to discovering a new restaurant, park, or monument to visit.
2. Consume some international pop culture.
OK, so right now I’m reading Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, and heading to some nameless South American country to be held hostage by terrorists is probably not exactly the escape you’re looking for. Instead, check out this list of books from countries outside the U.S. for an instant trip to your desired destination.
If you’d rather watch a movie, check out Charlotte Gainsbourg in Prête-moi ta main (or another French rom-com). Bonus: If you’re not fluent in French, you won’t be able to multitask while watching, helping you stay in the moment the way a vacation does.
3. Take a day off — for no good reason.
Most vacation days are reserved for something specific: travel, appointments, special events, etc. Instead, take a day off with no particular agenda in mind. Treat yourself to breakfast out, hit up a museum, and go to all the places that are too crowded on the weekend. Or, take a Bed Day. Clear your to-do list and spend the whole day under the covers with whatever you need to relax.
4. Do something related to your desired destination.
Craving a trip to Kyoto? Stop into the ramen spot in your neighborhood for the perfect mid-winter dinner, or check out a Japanese art museum or cultural institution. Dreaming of Rome? Splurge on the $4 box of pasta and make sauce from scratch. Wish you could run away to an ashram? Sign up for a meditation workshop at your local yoga studio.
5. Plan a trip — even if you’re not going to take it for a while.
Need a 15-minute break from work? Instead of scrolling through Facebook, use Kayak and Airbnb to price out flights and lodging for a hypothetical vacation. I find that even the anticipation of possibly taking a trip at some later point puts me in a better frame of mind.
Or, you can always take Rose’s advice to Sue Ellen, and “go on home, have a glass of wine and put some cucumber slices on your eyes.” After all, every girl over 25 should have a cucumber in the house.