Change Yourself…Change The World.

How to Make Traveling Feel Like Home
April 16, 2011, 3:39 am
Filed under: Travel Tip

One of the most crucial traveling adages is the always-important ‘travel light.’ Many of the things you think you need (extra batteries, most toiletry products, eons of clothes, etc.) you can easily find in another country. You’ll most likely pick up cool stuff along the way, so it’s always better to have a pack that has extra space.

I have a different travel adage- ‘travel light- and prepared’. If you’re traveling and staying in one place for a longer period of time (a month or more in one place), a new conundrum raises when packing: how am I going to make this new and disorientating place feel comfortable and familiar? Settling into a new place is hard, and poses a different challenge than constantly traveling. I’ve done such an exercise countless times now- India, Taiwan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Kenya- each place I’ve stayed in for a few months. From my experience, each place needs a period of ‘settling in’ to counter culture shock- and we’re talking immediate settling in. I’ve found that if I start experiencing culture shock and I’m not in a comfortable space, it’s just a downhard spiral to hell. Helping smooth culture shock can include really simple things, like unpacking all of your stuff, buying groceries, and re-arranging furniture.

As time has gone on, I’ve found what’s really helped me personally are pictures. Pictures of family, friends, and places I’ve traveled to. Pictures are small and don’t take up a lot of space in my bag. I can spread them out all over my room and make it feel like it’s mine. A candle or two also really helps with the ambience. I also have a thing for prayer beads, and cards from friends. Sometimes you just need a couple of small and nice decorations to make you feel more at home. The same goes for toiletries- I know it sounds ridiculous, but there’s nothing like having a pumice stone, foot cream, and nail polish if you’re out trekking all day in the heat, or if you’re feeling lonely and frustrated. Sometimes giving yourself a ‘luxurious foot spa’ is all it takes for a refreshing outlook. Even if these things are frivolous and take up a little bag space, I find them really essential for helping me get through the frustrating times.

So with that being said, I just invested in a couple of posters to bring along with me to the Peace Corps. Posters are customizable and they do an amazing job of making me feel like I’m at home. Posters are also great because they weigh absolutely nothing and I can fold them up to line on the bottom of my suitcase- virtually no space- but they take up a lot of space on a wall. So rather than staring at probably unpleasant cement walls at my site, I’ll have something refreshing to look at!

Poster One. Something calming that reminds me of Asia. One of those things to look at right when you come into the space.

Poster Two. A Map of the World. This is actually huge in life size, which I’m really excited about! I’m actually planning on using this one as a project that will probably take up an entire wall of my room. 

Poster Three. Something pretty to look at. Maybe next to a designated ‘reading spot.’ 

Poster Four. More artistic. For some reason it reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami (probably because he’s Japanese). This is one of those ‘bathroom’ pieces, you know what I’m saying? A bit more intense.

Along with the pictures and other little keepsakes I’m bringing, I’d say that I’m pretty set for a rocking space in Paraguay!

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