After graduating from college and getting a corporate job, I learned that traveling for months on end just isn’t a reality for the typical recent graduate. Unlike college, the demands of work, personal commitments, and friends often tie up many weekends throughout the year, making travel for more than a couple of days in a row quite difficult to manage. With just 15 vacation days, I’ve had to be extremely sparing with the trips I take, as vacations over one week long are somewhat taboo in our office.
Coming from almost one full year of travel, I started to get stir-crazy in Houston, feeling like I was trapped, with nowhere new to experience. I must have had some serious PHD, or “post holiday depression.” One evening, craving something different than the usual Tex-Mex fare, I asked my boyfriend if he’d be up for hunting down some Ethiopian food. Laughing, he agreed, and off we went, in search of some fluffy injera and delicious Ethiopian cuisine. Before long, we found a place that seemed promising, and we entered. For just $7 a person, we ate like kings, and it was some of the best food we’d had since coming to Houston four years ago. Even if you’re craving adventure, there’s something new to find right there in your own city! Sometimes, you just have to be open-minded and look for it.
Being local for so long taught me that there’s a lot to love about living somewhere and having a regular home, bed, and set of friends to come back to every day. There’s also a lot to love about getting to know a city inside and out, top to bottom.
Your House Should Be A Home
One huge perk of living somewhere is having a regular place to come home to – one that holds all of your things, smells like you, and holds many of your precious memories. One great way to being loving your home city is by truly making your house…well, yours. Over the past year, I’ve decorated my apartment with postcards from my travels, keepsakes from around the world, and rocks or other knick-knacks I’ve picked up throughout the past five years of traveling. Even though I’m no longer on the road 24/7, I still have constant reminders that feed my traveling soul and remind me that there’s a big, exciting world out there to explore.
Even if you know your living situation is temporary, you can take some small steps to make it as enjoyable to live in as possible. Display your favorite works of art on the walls, get decorations in your favorite colors, and invite your friends over whenever possible. If you like where you live, it will always be a home.
Let Your Friends Lead The Way
Who knows a city better than the people that live there? Your friends can be great resources on finding new restaurants to eat at, new bars to check out, hidden graffiti murals to photograph or coffee shops to relax in. Some of my most frequented hangouts in Houston are places shown to me by friends. Those hole-in-the-wall, hidden gems are places only known by locals, and these are often the best places to discover the heart and soul of a city.
If you’re ever feeling trapped or grounded in your city, reach out to a good friend and ask them to bring you to their favorite place. It might end up being one of your favorites, and you know you’ll never have to explore it alone!
One afternoon, a friend of mine and I decided to go for a walk when we saw a sign for a Brazilian festival in downtown Houston.
A Brazilian festival? I thought to myself, sounds intriguing.
Without any plans that afternoon, my friend and I decided to check it out. Little did we know that this particular afternoon would lead us from that Brazilian festival, with its traditional Brazilian dancing and food, all the way to a few Bollywood dancing show at a nearby park. There are a ton of things to do in any city for people who love to explore other cultures, so staying informed about events going on in the area is a great way to keep your traveling spirit alive. Even if you feel like you’ve seen everything your city has to offer, you might be surprised at some of the events, concerts, or shows that are available to you in your place of residence.
Make Exploring Your City A Priority
Let me let you in on an obvious but overlooked fact: if you don’t make learning about your city a top priority, it won’t happen. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll explore one new area or place in your city each weekend. Keep an eye out for cool festivals and events that are going on. Join a new soccer team or try out a fitness class. If you find a coffeeshop you love, become a regular so the barista knows your name and drink order as soon as you walk in. These are the perks of staying put that you can’t get while traveling, so why not embrace them?
The best way to love staying in one place is if you are truly proud of the city where you live. No place is perfect, but if you’re committed to learning about your home, you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you end up loving it.