I have a confession to make. As much as I love exploring new places, trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone, sometimes the only place I want to be is sitting on my couch, slipper-socked feet propped up on the coffee table, drinking tea and reading. Sometimes, the most adventurous decision I want to make is whether to watch a new movie or an old favorite. To paraphrase a wise girl from Kansas, sometimes there really is no place like home.
Wanderlust is a funny thing. It’s a permanent part of me, and even if I’m not currently indulging it, it’s always there. But I also have strong homebody tendencies; I’m often content to enjoy the silence and ease of laying low. I’m not sure how it’s possible to be both, but there you have it. As much as I love “new” and “different,” sometimes I crave the familiar (even while traveling).
It’s not that I need my specific brand of shampoo on vacation, or that my trip will be ruined if the city doesn’t have my favorite bagel shops. The comfort of home that is important to me when I travel is more an idea. It’s the lack of guilt I feel when I take time for myself and slow down. I never feel bad about spending a weekend afternoon bumming around in my pjs at home, but on vacation I feel obligated to make the most of every minute. But everything has to be about balance: work/life balance, wanderlust/homebody balance and travel/rest balance.
This need for down time has struck on some (ok, most) of my travels. After the constant struggle to communicate in a language that’s mostly unfamiliar, I admit that I’ve sought out the local Hard Rock Café, more for comfort and predictability than for the food. I needed to find a place where I could relax and speak without having to mentally translate first. And while being surrounded by incomprehensible (to me) words is one of my favorite things about traveling abroad, adding to the mystery and excitement of a new place, after a few days of speaking in halted, abbreviated sentences, it’s nice to go somewhere where I can let the words flow freely and know I’ll be understood (and able to understand). I wish I was one of those people who could fluently switch between lots of different languages, but I’m not even close.
Sometimes, though, language barriers have nothing to do with it. Sometimes your feet are aching from days of walking… and your camera is full of pictures of historic sights you’ve already forgotten the names of… and you’ve been getting up with the sun to fit as much as possible into every day…and now the weather’s turned cold and rainy outside and you’re out of band-aids for your blisters. It’s time to stop and take a breath. Sometimes the comforts of home you crave are the very things that will improve your trip, like the time to relax and take a break. Sometimes you need a day off from your vacation.
I’ve spent a morning (or afternoon) propped up in the hotel bed, watching the local news or a dubbed sitcom. Sometimes I’ve slept ‘til noon.
Especially on shorter trips, you can feel guilty about taking some time to rest. You’ve been going-going-going non-stop from am to pm. After a few days, the pace can get to you. Sometimes the best thing you can do is put your feet up and give yourself permission to slow down. Or go spend the afternoon sipping coffee at a sidewalk café, content to watch the world go by. Take the time to rejuvenate yourself, and your trip will be even better.
Image via Shutterstock