How to Experience the Feeling of Traveling When You Can’t Actually “Travel”

explore your backyard
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Oftentimes when people talk about traveling they reference far off, exotic, destinations.  Places where you take multiple fights and cross oceans just to get to.  But some people can’t afford to travel this way because of the expense of an airline ticket, hotel stay, and more.  Other people can’t travel this way because they can’t get adequate time off of work to make a vacation worth it.  And even now, with a pandemic looming, travel isn’t readily available to most people around the world. But crossing oceans and hopping on planes isn’t all that travel is.  Travel is so much more than that, it can even be as simple as exploring your own backyard.

Travel isn’t only crossing oceans, having a language barrier, and being lost in unfamiliar streets.  Travel is a feeling.  It’s visiting a new neighborhood, taking a day trip to a nearby town.  Travel is jumping in the car and driving a few hours away just to spend a night or two away from your house.  It’s the feeling of the unknown, being surrounded by unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar setting.  Travel is the thrill of feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you drive down the highway with no plans.  Travel is fun, adventure, escapism.  A change from your normal routine.  So how can you “travel” when you can’t actually “travel”?


5 Ways to Travel by “Exploring Your Own Backyard”

In times of COVID, we’ve all been left with a sense of “what next”.  For us that love to travel and crave adventure it has seemed as though the weight of the world has come crashing down as we cancel our trips, fight to get our money refunded, and sit at home with wanderlust.  But for some, not being able to travel has been a reality long before COVID struck.  Some people can’t travel because of expense and time.  But now, more than ever it’s time to stop feeding yourself the lie that you can’t afford to travel and that you don’t have adequate time to travel.  It’s time to get out there and explore your own backyard.

By “exploring your own backyard”, you can feel a sense of escapism while not going far.  You’re getting out of your daily routine and switching things up.  This may mean that you book a “staycation” and just stay in a hotel for a night.  Or it may mean that you go to a neighborhood that you haven’t been to before and walk around.  When you explore your own backyard you aren’t going far, you’re just seeing what lies around you.  Creating a feeling that you’ve left, when you haven’t truly left at all.


Take a Staycation

a beautiful hotel overlooking the ocean

A staycation is defined as “a period in which an individual or family stays at home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance of their home and does not require overnight accommodation”.  So essentially, a staycation is leaving your home and routine, without going far.

My favorite types of staycations are when I do spend the night elsewhere.  When I’m feeling bored and stifled at home I like to stay at a fun hotel with a pool or a quaint bungalow that I find on Airbnb.  (If you’re new to Airbnb, use my code for $35 off your first stay).  I take this time to rest and recharge and treat myself to something I wouldn’t normally treat myself to.  This could be a facial or a massage, but sometimes it’s even an expensive bottle of wine or a decadent meal at a fancy restaurant!


Visit a Different Neighborhood

the neighborhood of fremont, seattle wall art

Cities are made up of all different types of neighborhoods and it’s easy to get stuck in your neighborhood that is familiar without venturing to one that is right next door.  Next time you feel stagnant but aren’t able to plan a lavish trip, I encourage you to get outside of your bubble and explore the neighborhoods around you!  Try a new restaurant, visit a new brewery, pop into the boutique shops on the street.  Take an entire day away from the familiar and shake things up a bit!


Take a Road Trip to a Nearby City

If you have a little bit more time to get away, I recommend exploring beyond your backyard to a neighboring backyard such as a new city!  Sometimes the best way to relax, recharge, and reenergize is simply by hopping in the car, driving a few hours, and staying the weekend elsewhere.

When lockdown happened and I was stuck in my one-bedroom apartment in Seattle, I craved adventure and spontaneity.  Once restrictions started to ease again I hopped in the car and drove just an hour and a half north to spend one night in a cabin in the woods.  That quick overnight trip satisfied my desire to travel and I didn’t even have to go far or spend a lot of money.  (If you want to read about it, click here).


Looking to take a road trip?  Read my 6 Road Trip Tips


Get to Know Your Street

walking down a rainbow painted street in capitol hill, seattle

Another way to explore your own backyard is by getting to know the area around where you live!  Oftentimes we get stuck in the same monotonous routine, visiting the same coffee shop, eating at the same restaurant, until we have forgotten that there are other things around.  Next time you feel bored and stuck in a rut, simply try something new!  Get a different kind of latte than you normally get, or visit an entirely different coffee shop.  If you take a walk every day, switch up your routine, and go a different route.  There are a million little ways to change things up and create a sense of excitement even when not leaving your own street.


Don’t Go Home for an Entire Day

pike place market

Another way I like to feel as though I’m traveling, (when in reality I’m not leaving my city), is by packing some essentials in a purse and venturing out for the day!  I’ll usually get a ride-share to create the feeling that I’m in a new city and on a trip where I don’t have my car.  I’ll leave in the mid-morning and visit a park or museum.  I’ll then grab lunch and wander around, popping into different stores and coffee shops.  I end the night by taking myself to dinner or drinks with a good book in hand.  By the end of the day when I get home, it feels as though I’ve truly left.


So while people paint a picture that travel is expensive and lavish and exotic.  The truth is, that that is a false sense of reality.  Travel can be anything that you want it to be.  It can be staying nearby or venturing out.  It can be a one night trip or a week-long trip.  Next time you have the urgency to travel and aren’t able to, let go of what society says that travel looks like.  Instead, book a staycation, venture to a new town, or simply head to the neighborhood next door.  It’s time for you to dream up what travel means to you, and go after it.


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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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  1. Ellie Dale
    February 4, 2023 / 6:08 am

    What if you live in a city of 18,000? The same one you’ve lived in for your entire 40+ years? You can’t just hop on over to a new neighborhood or try a new restaurant because you know the place inside and out and you’re so @@#$%^& tired of the only 6 restaurants in town. You’ve been to the only museum 50 times already, which is 49 times too many since the exhibits never change. It’s 2 months until the next crappy, low-budget community theater show, the only place to shop is Walmart, and you could hike every trail in town blindfolded. Then what?

    • February 6, 2023 / 12:02 pm

      Hi Ellie! So sorry that you’re feeling this way. Have you considered moving? Otherwise, I’d suggest a road trip to a nearby city!

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