How You Can Experience The Benefits of Travel When Stuck at Home

Ash Jurberg

Author with Bob Marley in Kingston, Jamaica

My name is Ash. And it’s been 211 days since my last overseas trip.

I am a Travel Addict.

There could be worse things to be addicted to. I am sure you have your own addictions and obsessions. Things that friends question you about. Imagine having that taken away from you. That is the situation I am now in.

As a travel addict, it’s been incredibly hard for me. Travel has been my life. It has been my pleasure, and it has been my business. There is little in my life that hasn’t been as a result of travel: meeting my partner at a music video shoot in Austin. Starting a business through a chance meeting at an overseas conference in Phuket. Proposing at a Japanese onsen. Making lifelong friends around the world.

Travel has been my life.

But as an addict, going through withdrawals, I am trying to take the positives and manage my addiction. While I am stuck at home, I am taking the travel philosophies I use abroad and applying them to every day.

For any fellow travel addicts, or travel novices or even travel virgins — these are the travel philosophies I use and now put into practice at home.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
— Anonymous

Anonymous is a prolific writer of quotes. This one is my favourite. Friends have purchased fancy new cars. Huge McMansions. Progressed rapidly up the corporate ladder. Most of my money and my career aspirations have gone into travel.

I am always asked why the obsession with travel? You may read this and think, “Save your money. Travel is expensive!”

When I tell you, I live in Australia — I imagine your reaction if you’re not already a traveller. “That’s on the other side of the world, why bother travelling? That must take so much time to get there by plane.”

My mom worries too. “It’s not safe! There are earthquakes/terrorists/diseases/killer zombies….” All there to attack the poor tourist.

There is an endless list of reasons telling me why I shouldn’t travel. But I am here to take you on a journey — the only trip we shall be taking in this short-term — to share why I love to travel. And why I wish more people would travel. And one day, you may become a travel addict also.

The Benefits of Travel and How to Apply Them At Home

The people

I am old school. For me, travel is not about Instagram posts. It is about the people. Meeting new people — whether it be for thirty seconds, on a walking tour or a lengthy discussion at the bar.

In travel, there is always the opportunity to meet someone. Taking the wrong turn down a street, getting lost and asking someone for directions can lead to a new adventure. Travel is important. It changes lives. Helps you live experiences outside of books.

Travel gives you wings, makes you go outside your comfort zone and seek out life like going alone to a cafe or bar. I would never do this at home. But overseas, I am free. Independent. And this leads to opportunities to chat.

Travel allows you to be an observer — to put my phone away and take in the surrounding. Listen to new words in foreign languages. Imagine what discussions are taking place. One thing I like to do is, pick up the local paper and look through it. Sure, most of it I can not understand, but I feel like I gain a sense of the city I am in, through the eyes of its newspaper.

Using this practice at home:

Take in your surroundings, not only as you travel, but, also as a daily practice. Grow your observations, touch new people, learn new things. Speak to people instead of looking at your phone. Strike up conversations — you never know where it may lead — a new partner, a new friend or a new business contact.

“ Drink heavily with locals whenever possible” — Anthony Bourdain

The firsts

Where else can you achieve a lot of firsts?

Sure as a baby — your first word, your first smile, your first solid food. But then the firsts diminish as you get older. My mom stops recording my firsts.

Yet, when I travel, the firsts are there to be found again.

My first time in, or my first visit to — are obvious ones. But there are many more. Each day provides an opportunity for a first.

I enjoyed my first Iftar dinner in Palestine. In Turkmenistan, I hitchhiked for the first time. Cambodia saw me receive my first — and very strange- four-hand massage while in Iceland, I experienced my first 24 hour day of sunlight.

The firsts can be great, such as the time I was on Korean TV; or terrible, like the time I had to bribe officials in Azerbaijan to be let out of a country.

Each first is a new experience. Each first is exciting. Each first is like a baby opening its eyes for the first time.

Using this practice at home:

Keep a list of the firsts so you can reflect on them. Try and undertake firsts each day. Your first article. Your first walk in a new area. Your first attempt to make souffle (I mention this as I tried today — and failed — but I tried!). Your first online yoga class.

The freedom

For someone who is a planner by nature, travel offers freedom.

Where to next? What shall we try today? Where will I wake up tomorrow?

Especially in these times, with restricted movement and new rules, I miss this freedom. A chance encounter with someone while waiting for a coffee may lead to a new adventure.

I deliberately don’t get phone coverage when I travel. I use WIFI where available, but when there is none — I am free. No messages are coming in. There is no temptation to check the latest on social media. I am forced to withdraw from my iPhone — my second addiction — and focus on the world around me.

It does lead to some challenges. I have been lost many times, without the ability to use maps. But it is amazing what you experience with your head up and your concentration on your surroundings.

And there is always the ultimate map — the people — to help if I am truly lost.

“ If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal” — Paulo Coelho

Using this practice at home:

The obvious one is the hardest one — put the phone away.

On the weekend, leave your home with no plans and see how the day unfolds- all without a phone. Try going for a walk in your neighbourhood. You may find a new park, walk past an interesting building or discover a new cafe.

The education

You learn more in one week of travel than in one semester of school. Teachers may shake their heads at that. But for me, the best way to learn maths is to calculate exchange rates. The best way to learn Geography is to visit places on the map.

History, art, politics. All will be learned via immersion in the travel experience. I feel it should be compulsory to travel — be it one week or one year before working full time. There may be financial challenges for some; perhaps you can find a travel scholarship like there are for colleges.

Perhaps that it is too extreme, but I don’t think so.

Using this practice at home:

Explore the world from your home. Many museums and galleries have virtual tours. Create your own walking tour using Google maps. Read up on a country that you know little about. Borrow a book on a new subject.

For now, I am reduced to armchair travel — I try and sate my desires through research. It is like a nicotine patch, slowly getting me through, yet nowhere near as satisfying. I take in some of the steps outlined above to give a sense of travel.

I wait for the world to reopen. I wait to travel again. I wait for the rush of stepping onto a plane again.

I wait. Because I am a travel addict and hope you become one too.

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San Antonio, TX

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