Let’s face it, not all of us can or want to sell all of our possessions and live out of a backpack for the rest of our lives. Some of us like to have a base to call home and instead travel on a regular basis. Others just can’t afford to travel regularly or don’t have the time to do so.
Not to worry, we are here to help you escape reality and gain inspiration, even for a brief moment, without breaking the bank or taking too much time. We have come up with 9 great ways to see the world without leaving town.
1. Ethnic restaurants
Most western cities are blessed with multiculturalism which means a plethora of different restaurants from around the world on your doorstep. Get out there and find the best Thai or Indian restaurant in town. Perhaps get adventurous and sample some food from a far off land that you didn’t even know existed.
Around the corner from our house, we have an Ethiopian restaurant. I had never tried Ethiopian food until we went there and I was pleasantly surprised.
I love Spanish food so we are always on the lookout for a good tapas restaurant. Luckily we have found one here in Munich that is as authentic as they get. And that has the stamp of approval from a number of Spaniards.
The benefit of living and working in an international community is that many of my friends have lived in different parts of the world so they are able to, for example, differentiate between an average and bona fide Thai restaurant.
2. Photo exhibitions and travel presentations
Many of the big photo exhibitions, such as the Sony World Awards and the World Press Photo Exhibition travel from city to city around the world. A quick search online will inform you of when and where it will be near you.
Visit an Art Gallery or a specialised gallery such as Getty Images Gallery in London.
Keep an eye out at your local exhibition halls for travel shows. These days there seem to be travelling shows for everything from travel to weddings to wine tasting to sex and fantasy. I’d just like to point out that I have never been to the last one mentioned, I’ve just seen the fluorescent yellow and orange posters all over town. I swear I’m telling the truth.
3. Visit a park and relax
This is a simple one. Get out of the house and relax. Pack a picnic and a nice bottle of wine and spend some time with loved ones. Go fly a kite, ride a bike, go for a walk. You never know what you might discover. Take a different route, maybe even get lost.
4. Do a tour of your own city
Most major cities offer walking tours, often free. This is a great way to learn something new about the city you live in. Perhaps your guide will give a great tip for a fantastic dive bar that you never knew existed. Maybe you will learn a little bit of history that you never learnt at school.
I am a big fan of walking tours, especially when I visit a new location. Whenever we have guests I send them on one of the many free walking tours available here in Munich. Sometimes I will also join them in the hope of learning something new about this city I call home.
Last year I had friends from Australia visit and went with them on a tour to Neuschwanstein and was pleasantly surprised by how much knowledge I had acquired by the end of the day. I started questioning if King Ludwig really was crazy or just misunderstood.
When we were in London we did a photography walking tour with Hairy Goat. Not only did we gain some great photography tips, we also went to places that I’m sure even locals don’t know about or have never visited. I’m sure similar tours can be found in most major cities.
5. Read a book
I love reading, I just don’t always have as much time as I’d like to actually do it, especially while I’m working. However, I suspect it is like exercising, if you really want to do it you will make the time.
I have been inspired time and time again to travel to places after reading a book. I have to admit I am a sucker for a biography which makes the places even more real and come alive even more in my imagination. Even a fictional book set in a faraway land can be educational and provide an insight into the history or culture of a particular country when well researched.
I have so many books in my Amazon wish list that I have forced myself to ignore until I have read all of the unread books collecting dust on our bookshelf. There are countless lists online that recommend books to give you wanderlust and inspire you to travel this amazing planet. Here are two such lists from nomadicmatt and thebrokebackpacker. Stay tuned for a post about a selection of books that I have read that have given me itchy feet and a need to pack my suitcase again.
6. Watch a Movie
It is no secret that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was our inspiration for travelling to Iceland. We had pretty much booked a flight to Iceland within minutes of finishing watching that movie. Plus this movie is all about absconding from the doldrums of everyday life to go on an adventure, with the added bonus of some impressive scenery. What more do you want from a movie?
From the moment I saw Gorillas in the Mist as a teenager, I knew I wanted to go gorilla trekking one day. If someone had told me I could only ever go on one more holiday, I would without hesitation say Africa would be my destination. In 2010 I was lucky enough to visit Africa for the first time. The following year my dream of gorilla trekking became a reality when I toured Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. I have now visited five times and would go back in a heartbeat.
Call me a soppy romantic but you can’t deny the beauty of the cinematography in Under the Tuscan Sun. Even if you are not into those movies where someone runs away to Italy to escape reality and experiences a renaissance of themselves, this movie will make you want to buy a house in Tuscany, renovate it and live there until your dying days.
If you are seeking more adventure than heartfelt (some may say soppy) romance, then you may want to watch a classic, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, much of which was filmed in Petra, Jordan. The Treasury’s colossal ornately carved exterior adds to the mystery of this movie. When you visit in person, the grandeur of The Treasury is certainly overwhelmingly mind-blowing.
7. Follow a TV Show
With Netflix and Amazon Prime changing the face of television, we have more and more variety available to us. Netflix is quite good at producing documentary shows about a multitude of topics, one of which is travel. A Tale by Light is one that we have binged watched as it encompasses both photography and travel.
For absolute comedic value I would recommend Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father. As the title implies, Jack a pretty laid back English comedian travels with his much stuffier father to places that his father doesn’t want to go.
If it is more action that you are after then maybe Game of Thrones is more your thing. This series has taken the world by storm and has been filmed all over the place, from Morocco to Spain to Iceland to Croatia.
8. Get lost in an unfamiliar neighbourhood
David and I live a ten-minute walk from Olympia Park, the site of the 1972 Olympic Games. We had been there countless times for a walk or run, for a festival, to see a show or just to lie in the sun and have a picnic. However, it was not that long ago that we ventured with our cameras to the Olympic village. Here we found some cool graffiti as it is now housing for university students. It was also a solemn reminder of the horrific act of terrorism that happened to the Israeli athletes during the Olympics.
I am sure there are neighbourhoods that you’ve never really ventured into, never really explored. Perhaps you’ve passed through them on your way to somewhere else but never actually stopped and probed the surface. Maybe you haven’t made the effort to search for a new cool bar or cafe or dug deep into the core and examined the essence of the area.
9. Follow Travel Blogs
I couldn’t end this post without mentioning the obvious. Follow travel blogs, even if it is one of the big guns like Lonely Planet or National Geographic. Yes, I understand that living vicariously through others who seem to be living a fantastical lifestyle, may just make you feel envy and depressed about the fact that you have to get up and go to work on Monday. I have to say I love reading other people’s travel blogs.
Learning about places that I would never had imagined travelling to, or places that I may not have even heard of is pure joy for me. To read that it is actually safe to travel to certain countries can be incredibly reassuring when you see first hand that other people have done it. Seeing those idyllic beach pictures, with the golden sand and ridiculously aqua blue waters only inspire me more to plan that next holiday. It is certainly why we started this blog, to inspire people like yourself to go and explore this amazing planet.
So there you have it, 9 great ways to see the world without leaving town or costing a fortune. Do you have any more tips? Let us know in the comments section below.
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