It was our third attempt but a noisy image finally appeared on my screen. Although it wasn't a clear picture, it still filled me with envy.
Familiar hints indicated that my best friend had been travelling. Her already beautiful brown skin glowed even brighter, her usually straightened hair was carelessly wavy and unkempt, and she sported a handmade dress purchased from foreign lands.
I had planned on meeting her partway through her trip around Asia for about three weeks. But alas, I landed my dream job. I recently got my first on-air reporting contract, so I didn't feel right about asking for so much time off, I had to be responsible.
And so as her photos and stories taunted me, so did my cousin's invitation to visit her as she starts her new life in Egypt. Shortly after that another good friend got a job at the Interpol headquarters in France. Europe adventure? No thanks. And just when I thought the taunting was starting to die down, travel opportunities presented themselves in my dreams. The most obscure and memorable one involved me shopping for pillows at Sears and coming across a deal:
"Buy two pillows, get a 30 dollar flight to Beijing!" WOW! What a steal! Thought dream Talia. When I woke up, I had the same old pillows and no flight to Beijing. Sigh.
So what does a young woman with itchy feet do to tame this travel bug for the next year or so? Well, science has proven that those diagnosed with 'the travel bug' all have common symptoms -- they are innately adventurous and tend to get bored quite fast. (OK, I may have come up with those symptoms myself.) But I have thought of some solutions that have tamed my travel bug the past six months that could maybe help others in similar situations.
1. Be a tourist in your own city:
Right now I call London/Toronto/Guelph home. They are all within a two hour radius. Since I am fairly new to London, I put out a tweet asking Londoners for the best gems in the city. I got a lot of responses, and tested many of those places out already. I actually find myself telling people who have lived here for years about new restaurants and places to check out this summer. So that has made my transition into a new city a lot easier and my weekends here more enjoyable.
Prior to living in London I lived in Toronto for five years. Since I have to carefully plan my weekends there, I found myself doing things I had never done before despite living there for so long. I went on a romantic date taking photos of the cherry blossoms in High Park with my boyfriend, ate gelato at the College St. Festival, found some new patios and great cups of coffee in Kensington Market. I even plan on doing the CN Tower Edgewalk this fall.
I also planned a family visit in Guelph to coincide with the weekend of Hillside -- my favourite music festival in the GTA.
I've noticed that if I plan exciting small adventures for my weekends when I'm staying in the city, and take my camera along, it fulfills a little bit of that itch!
2. Be a tourist in surrounding cities:
Who knew that the Heidelberg Project in Detroit was so fascinating and only a couple of hours from where I'm living? Or that a cottage weekend in the Muskokas would be the perfect long weekend escape? I'm usually busy planning big trips and I don't take the time to appreciate the amazing little trips that surround me. Most notably taking the train to Chicago for a few days for a very affordable price and exploring a city I had never seen before this year. I don't think I would've done these things if I didn't have to be creative with my time constraints.
3. Read books that take you to other places:
I have read Kevin Sites: In the Hot Zone three times. It's one of those books that takes me to another place, and combining that with journalism makes for a great read. For those of you that don't find yourself fantasizing about reporting in war zones I also recommend:
Everyone has different taste, but a good travel book is a great read before drifting into dreams about pillow sales.
4. Learn how to make some foreign dishes:
Living in a new city means building a new social life, which can sometimes mean spending a lot of weeknights in my bachelorette pad watching re-runs and talking to myself (I mean...practicing my reporter voice). So this has been the perfect time to learn how to cook new dishes. It's as easy as going to your local bookstore and getting specialty cookbooks for different cultures.
5. Discover some foreign music:
What is paired perfectly with a foreign meal? A soundtrack to go along with it! I find a lot of great tunes following National Geographic Music on Twitter or simply searching "top 40" in cities around the world. If I can't be in Mali munching on tigua dege na, then I might as well throw on Amadou and Mariam and make it myself!
6. Take the downtime to ensure your previous trips have been archived:
I am a bit of an advocate for hard copies of photos. My generation tends to allow their photos to get lost in cyber space. Take your travel downtime to finally print out those Asia backpacking photos and organize them into an album with ticket stubs and souvenirs. You will be glad you did in a few years when you can't find them on Facebook or something goes wrong with your hard drive. There's nothing like physical copies of incredible memories.
7. Stay sharp on flights and travel deals so you're not out of the loop when you can travel again:
Don't torture yourself, but keep your travel bug on high alert. It's still good to know which places are cheaper during certain times of the year so that when you can travel again you're still in the know!