For some of us, well most of us, traveling isn’t just about snapping pictures of faraway places, or trying out funky foods, it’s about the people we meet, the lessons we learn, and all those other travel moments that are not necessarily location-dependent.
A few examples:
What I took away from Madrid? A desire to travel to Sydney, and everywhere else in Australia. I met so many Aussie backpackers in Spain that not only did I come home with a lust for more Spain and mas tapas, but with new friends in Australia and a new destination on my bucket list. After another stint in Spain, I added Austin and Milwaukie to that list too.
After a week in Korea… I learned to appreciate the kindness of strangers from the American that graciously hosted me as a couch surfer, to the old man that carried my bags up the subway stairs, and the countless Canadians that ushered me through (unnecessarily, but still thoughtfully) every inch of Vancouver International Airport to make sure I safely made it to my flight during my 12-hour layover.
So, how can you get that travel state of mind without leaving town? Meet travelers in your hometown!
- Host Couch Surfers & go to Couch Surfing Events:
You can post an ad on couchsurfing.com to host travelers or just join the couch surfing community groups in your hometown. You’ll be flooded with opportunities to meet up with local travel-minded people and visitors to your town ranging from sightseeing in town to backyard BBQs and many more.
- Join Meetup Groups:
Look for groups on meetup.com that suit your interests; you’ll get a chance to meet new people and maybe visit new places in your city. If you’re learning another language join a foreign language conversation Meetup group to test your skills and meet travelers. I met people from Europe and all parts of Central and South America at my Spanish Meetups.
Work at your local visitor center, hostel, or volunteer at events and festivals for a chance to chat with locals and visitors.
- Host international students:
Much more of a commitment than just an afternoon affair but an amazing way to learn about the world, expose your family to other cultures, and share your stories and traditions with a student from who-knows-where. Bonus perk: you and your family may end up with a friend/tourguide/placetostay halfway around the world!
- Blog or offer local travel advice online:
From answering questions on tripadvisor.com to writing about travel ideas for your city or state’s tourism website, you can share everything you love about your home with people from around the world and learn a little about folks interested in visiting, all while in your PJs.