You might be asking yourself how someone can get wanderlust while living abroad, but trust me, it happens. Many expats will move overseas to get away from the daily grind, leave it all, and have adventures, but often moving abroad just means finding yourself in a new 9 to 5 halfway around the world.
So what can you do when living abroad still leaves you sitting at your desk, pining away for your next flight or vacation?
1. Tune out the travelers on social media
If every time you open Insta your feed is filled with beautiful beach scenes and mountain vistas that fill you with longing, it might be time to take a break from the social media scene. Looking at gorgeous new countries might have been fun before you made your big move abroad, but if you’re spending your evenings watching travel vlogs and feeling blue, maybe take a rain check from all those travelers out there and focus on your here and now.
2. Explore your base town
You picked this new town for a reason, right? That big city vibe or small town simplicity called to you in the early days, so go out and try to rekindle that love affair. When I was starting to feel really down and trapped by my expat job/life, I took a morning and went to one of the city’s somewhat-cheesy tourist attractions: an old Japanese village that’s been converted into various souvenir stalls. Being surrounded by tourists and looking at cheap knickknacks made me feel like a tourist again too. It was the strange, but perfect mood-boost I needed for my wanderlust blues.
3. Break your routine
Another reason expats tend to feel the pull of wanderlust is that, even in a new country, people will quickly find routine. This can be great. You go to the same places for lunch each day, you see the same people at work, you go home at the same hour each evening, and you watch the same TV series each night. Your new town starts to feel like home, which is wonderful, but it can also make you feel pretty trapped.
So break the routine! If you always go home on a weekday night after work, then try going to a movie instead. If you always wake up half an hour before work with barely enough time to wash your hair and go, try waking up earlier and going for a walk in the park. Maybe even get up at sunrise, take your camera with you, and pretend you’re at the start of your adventure here, excited to capture every moment.
A little break from routine can make everything seem a little less blah again.
4. Check out a new shop or restaurant
This is the same idea as breaking your routine. When you’re on vacation or in a new place, everything is new and exciting. You don’t have to try hard to find a delicious new restaurant or a cool new mall. But if you’ve been living in a place for a while, you stop trying. I go to the same five restaurants each week because I’ve found five cheap, delicious places, but good God can that get boring.
Take one afternoon and eat at a new curry place, try that expensive Western place you’ve been meaning to go to, or go to that weird buffet near your house you’ve been too nervous to test out. A new environment, even just a new environment for lunch or your Saturday shopping, can keep the travel bug at bay.
5. Eat nice food
When you’re on vacation you don’t eat boring food. So if you’ve been eating rice plus meat or veggies for the last six meals in a row (even though I know it’s cheap and healthy), try breaking the cycle. Make yourself a familiar meal from home or go on Google and find a new recipe. If you’ve been lusting after a particular place, try making or buying food that’s from that region of the world. If you want to be really nice, invite your friends over and make it a party.
6. Treat yourself
Now I’m not saying go broke on a new gold necklace, but when you’re on vacation, you tend to splurge a bit on experiences and souvenirs. How many people have gotten their nails done in Florida? Or bought a new romper in Thailand? Or tried that cocktail with the funny name on the beach? Don’t go crazy, but buying a summery outfit, getting some highlights in your hair, or splurging on a new drink, might be enough of a pick-me-up and reminder of fun past vacations to curb that wanderlust appetite.
7. Read something
On vacation, you don’t spend your days watching YouTube or scrolling endlessly through Twitter. If you’ve got some downtime, you pick up a book or a magazine. So find some English print material wherever you are, and go outside, read in a park, or a cute coffee shop, or on a balcony. Put on a floppy hat and sunglasses if you like and get your vacation vibes on.
8. Take a weekend or a day break
You might be living in Asia and pining for a Greece getaway, but that’s not happening anytime soon, so set your sights a little closer to home and take a weekend or day break. Book a hotel for one night in the city or countryside. Bring a friend with you if you like or go alone, and get away from it all even if it’s just for a night or a day.
Ideally you’ll have a blast and manage to cure your wanderlust by having a day trip that feels like a proper vacation.
9. Plan a future vacation
If you start planning and saving now, even if you can’t take your next trip for several months, you’ll probably get some good deals on hotels and flights, you’ll save more money than you usually would, and all the while you’ll be feeding your travel bug in a healthy and productive way. So pick a location and start planning today. It’ll give you something to look forward to.
10. Keep in touch with friends from other places
One of the many perks of being an expat, is meeting people from all over the world. So if the wanderlust blues are getting to you, write a letter to your other friends abroad or send a message on FaceBook and ask them how they’re doing. How’s life in their country? Who knows, maybe they’ll even invite you to visit someday? It’ll help you maintain new friendships, as well as ease your wanderlust by hearing about their adventures around the world.
Are there any other ways to help combat or cope with wanderlust while living abroad? What are your tried and tested techniques? Let me know in the comments.