If you had to choose your own adventure, how would your story go?
“Every cell in my body is vibrating with excitement after:
A) shredding gnarly waves in the Philippines
B) tracing the steps of past Emperors and Empresses of the Taj Mahal in India
C) savouring the most delectable pastry in a quaint cafe in Paris
D) sitting in my living room
Easy choice, right? A, B, or C are the clear winners. But unlike the other options, D can be the road less traveled that’s worth exploring.
A change in culture, scenery and way of living makes us feel alive. As much as we’d love to snap our fingers and be transported to a faraway place to live our own version of “Eat, Pray, Love”, it may not always be accessible. Unless you have a genie that will grant you wishes (and even those are limited), resources, time, and other life events may prevent you from jet-setting to the other side of the world. Those “limitations” don’t stop you from experiencing meaningful journeys in your own neighborhood, or even your home.
What if you saw your local stomping ground with the same eyes and appetite you have for distant destinations? Suddenly, your world becomes full of possibilities!
Magic happens when we step outside the norm. Remember the first time you visited a new anything, be it a school, restaurant, city, or country? Your spidey-senses tuned into the colours, smells, interactions and feelings. A change in location or shifting your perspective are ways to get outside the norm without dipping into your resources and completely uprooting yourself.
In Singapore, I get a lot of visitors. I’m usually the unofficial tour guide who takes guests to various attractions around the city. Since I also moved here recently, at first, I was the excitable, well-informed tourist soaking in every moment. But after a while, even the most alluring sights became a checklist of things to do.
One time, a friend came to visit and we chose to experience each day through the lens of our senses; hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. Visiting familiar attractions from a different angle felt like being there for the first time. Walking through a botanical garden during a monsoon with the sense of smell as the focal point made for a rich and purposeful day. That day left a lasting mark, and it’s my favourite memory of visiting that garden.
When your backyard becomes the source of wanderlust, it expands what’s possible. Here’s how you can get the feels you get from traveling abroad simply by exploring locales close to home.
Travel within 25 km – Go on a mindful treasure hunt camera in tow.
Embark on a treasure hunt in a nearby community and capture the gems of the day through photos. Let what awe-inspires you be your compass. Ready to be a modern-day explorer? Here are some tips.
- Choose a town or neighbourhood that you haven’t been to and learn what makes this area unique. Maybe it’s known for its peculiar landscape, friendly community, or high number of garden gnomes. What peaks your interest can be your focus.
- Pack a bag with snacks, water, camera or cell phone, and a journal (if you like to write or draw) before you set off for your adventure.
- Arrive as you would at the edge of the Amazonian rainforest and take a deep breath. When you push into new territory, be aware of the big and little things that entice you. Maybe you step into the crystal shoes of royalty by admiring the grandness of a building, while the intricate floral tiles animate the Monet in you, or perhaps the cheerful plants draw you closer to Mother Earth’s gift-giving nature. Snap shots of the macro or micro world you’re immersed in.
- If experiencing your surroundings this way feels unnatural, use these prompts to guide you:
- Let nature lead the way. Get curious about the trees, plants, flowers, grass, birds, and insects.
- Look up and look down. What do you see?
- Use your senses of touch, smell, taste, and hear to help pave your path forward.
- Be sure to respect the people around you and understand that they may not want their photos taken.
Your unique discoveries will show you a different side of a neighbourhood and of yourself. Happy exploring!
Travel within 5 km – Build your own wellness retreat
Needing a deeper inward journey? Get a personalized dose of restoration and reflection by creating a half or full-day wellness retreat. If you’ve never planned one before, here’s a list of things you can easily do.
- Choose a place close to nature. Nature has a way to soothe the senses and connect you to the present moment. You may have a favourite park, front lawn or beach in mind.
- Design your day. Ask yourself what you need holistically. Activities like yoga, meditation, drawing, journaling, or reading, can nurture your mind, body, and spirit. Use technology to find mobile resources online. Find your wellness retreat guides on an app, find suggestions on Google, maybe your favourite teacher offers online services, or create a practice on your own.
- Pack any tools you need. Yoga mat, blocks, journal, pen, drawing collateral, blanket, food and whatever else your heart desires.
- Invite a few friends if it makes sense. Community can be as nourishing as the activities themselves. Share this experience with others, or take this time for your self.
Who knows? After creating and experiencing a personalized wellness retreat, you may add this type of experience to your regular self-care rhythm.
Travel within 5 metres – Invite the world into your home
If you can’t visit India, why not invite India into your home? Experience a culture through food by creating a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Here is a handy checklist to help you prepare.
- Choose a country you would love to visit and do a little research on their signature dishes. Pick one or a few dishes that have you salivating. You can find a recipe and make it yourself, or order it in. Do whatever works for you. Remember, this is your mini getaway.
- Find out how they eat in the country you want to visit. Is it on a table, on the floor, or seated? Do they eat with their hands or other utensils?
- Create a little ambience by playing music from that area. Play sounds of the ocean if you’re in the Maldives. Spotify or YouTube have a great selection of world music and nature sounds.
- Add a few touches to transform your space. Use blue and white fabrics for a Greek meal. Use cushions and carpets on the floor for your Moroccan feast. Heck, why not load a landscape image on your tv or laptop?!
Savouring one delicious dish rich with culture or an elaborate feast can transport you to an international destination without breaking the bank or stepping outside.
“Eat, Pray, Love” may have happened in faraway places, but Jasmine saw her own home as a “whole new world” by simply viewing it from a different perspective.So what home-grown adventure will you choose? We’d love to hear about your experience planning or enjoying a local adventure. Be sure to share a picture of your expedition with the hashtag #livingatmantravelathome!