Madeleine Kleppinger challenges readers to experience life through stories that inspire more adventurous living, personal growth and meaningful service of others.

Leave Your City without Leaving Behind Home

Leave Your City without Leaving Behind Home

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So many travel articles are about getting out of your comfort zone and trying everything new. Traveling, with that initiative, can be intimidating, unattractive, even frightening. For the homebody, exploring new places can have a different purpose. Every time I drive or fly away from my front porch, I learn this: Leaving my city always helps me to love my home better.

If you are a sofa clinger, here are five tips, to encourage memorable traveling that will help you cherish home.

1.       Bring your town with you.

Sometimes new places are so unfamiliar we can feel disoriented and embarrassed. Countless travelers have returned from exotic vacations talking about their hotel because it was where they were comfortable. You do not need to return to the safety of your bed, with the people you know to feel comfort. Bring your town and its familiar things with you when you travel. Stash a few favorite snacks you can only buy back home. After trying a unique food someone else has prepared, treat them to one of your favorites.

My go to homesick cure is a super soft Colorado shirt. When I start to struggle with all the extra Oxygen in a new place, I pull out my favorite shirt and my mood brightens when the first person says, ‘Hey Colorado! I hear it is beautiful there.’ I get to talk about the Rockies, they suggest somewhere for me to visit, and we both have traveled a little bit that day.

2.       Connect to the people.

From China to Kenya to Louisiana, one particular type of memory holds fast in my heart; sharing a meal with locals in their home. Mealtime spent around our dinner tables ranks high on our list of things we love. To feel close to home when traveling in other places, replicate that experience by finding places that connect your closely to people. Maybe you do not get a personal invitation to someone’s dinner table, but you could ask to share a coffee. Walk into a souvenir shop as the only customer, spend time with the clerk and experience their home through their eyes.

3.       Learn why people chose this place as their home.

My first trip to Nairobi, we met Daniel, who is a proud Kenyan. He loves his home and wants everyone who enters Kenya to love it too. On this vacation, Daniel took us to The Bomas of Kenya. The entire exhibit exists to teach people about the tribes and traditions of the Kenyan people. Boma in Swahili means homestead.

When Daniel pointed out his tribe’s homestead, he said his people were the smartest because they settled in the richest part of Kenya with the most resources. Every Kikuyu person benefits from the choice of their ancestors. He turned to Johnathon and I, “Why did your people settle in Colorado where the air is so bad after all?”

Since that day, when I travel to new places, I try to make a stop at the founding location of the town. At every place I have been there is immense pride, a sense of connection to the land, and love of their town. Town pride is infectious.

4.       Pack pictures of places on your phone.

Not everyone is physically or financially capable of travel. If you are able then you have the privilege and responsibility to help others travel. There is a free and personal means that benefits you too. Pack pictures of where you live and places you visited on your phone. When you are standing in line, buying extra sunscreen and aloe vera, talk to the local grandma and show her these pictures.

Teach people words from your language in exchange for salutations in theirs. I keep a picture of mountains and my dog playing in the river all the time. I teach those words in English and now know them in five other languages.

Most special of all, is showing children pictures of the wonders of the world. Open their eyes to the majesty of the world around them so they might be encouraged to go far away too. Give them a good look and explain some places are different but never too scary or too foreign.

5.       Fresh conversations in new places will awaken your life back home.

Even in 2019, traveling is a luxury and reserved for special occasions. Many people do not consider going an hour away as traveling but if you open your eyes, ears, and senses to new things around you, then you are traveling. Fresh experiences create new conversations with those who stayed home. Stories about meeting new people, eatery suggestions, and lively jokes give you material that will awaken your daily routine. Being aware of the goodness of your own life will increase your appreciation.

Just like reading a good story creates an escape from the mundane, travel is our ticket to experiencing newness while enhancing our lives. Because traveling instills appreciation and fondness for the familiar. Following these five tips will help you experience memorable travel that will not exhaust or deplete you. Loving your home is natural for a traveler, because we know what makes a place special and worthy of sharing with others.

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Here are a few of my favorite items to travel with. I never leave home without travel peanut butter and a book! Follow the links to buy them before your next trip.

 

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