If you tend to get a serious case of winter wanderlust this time of the year, you’re not alone. The holiday season is one of the best times to get away and travel. All the lights, the holiday decorations, the seasonal treats, and the snow (if you’re lucky) are sure to put you in a festive mood. But, as we all know, traveling costs money. And when you’re tight on cash, getting away might not be an option.
According to Nerdwallet’s 2018 Holiday Travel Report, nearly 50% of Americans plan on spending money on flights and hotels this holiday season, with the average person estimated to charge nearly $1,500 on their credit card. It can get a bit pricey if you haven’t been saving up throughout the year. But there’s no need to let your winter wanderlust and lack of cash dampen your holiday season.
“You don’t have to travel across the globe to cure your wanderlust,” Ashlan Cousteau, travel expert and brand ambassador for Curio Collection by Hilton, told HelloGiggles. Here’s what you can do to deal with wanderlust if traveling just isn’t in the budget this season.
1 Be a tourist in your own town
When you’re longing for a change of scenery, it’s easy to forget about all the wonderful little things your own community has to offer. But as Sarah Jasmine Labib, on-road content creator and trip leader for Topdeck, told HelloGiggles, “Just because you don’t need to board a plane, it doesn’t mean you can’t still explore your own backyard to find new experiences that quench your thirst for adventure.”
One of the best parts about traveling is getting to try things you would never think to do at home. So just take that idea of trying new things and apply it to activities around your area. It’s the holiday season—chances are, there are tons of local events and unique holiday offerings you can check out.
For instance, if you’ve never been ice skating before and your town has an ice rink set up for the season, rent a pair of skates and hit the ice. Or take a walk around town with your friends. Soak up all the seasonal sights and sounds. Visit that bakery you’ve always passed but never tried and see if they have any special holiday treats. Catch a last-minute show at your local theater. You can even check out your community’s social media profiles to stay up to date on things happening. It’s all about doing things you normally wouldn’t do.
“We can all try something new that’s a little out of our comfort zone without going too far,” Gemma Thompson, founder of Girls That Travel, told HelloGiggles. “You’ll get a mini travel-style buzz out of it, which may keep you going until your funds allow you to head further afield.” If you stay open to the possibilities, you’re sure to find an adventure in your own backyard.
2 Take a budget-friendly day trip to a nearby destination
If you really want to get away for a bit without having to break the bank, grab a friend and go on a day trip. All you need to do is choose a nearby city or town, plan out an itinerary, and make it a point to hit all of the popular spots. Find a destination that’s no more than two hours from where you live, do some research and get recommendations from friends for spots to check out, then pack up and go.
3 Look up recipes from your destination of choice and try making them at home
If your desire to travel this season stems from your love of food, pick a dish or dessert from a place you’re dying to visit and try to make it yourself.
“Making a new cuisine right at home can be an adventure you’ll surely enjoy,” Chizoba Anyaoha, founder of TravSolo, said. “Every time I have an urge to drop everything to travel to Italy, I open up my book of recipes I gathered from locals when I lived in Florence and get busy in the kitchen. You’ll feel like you have just traveled with the first bite.”
It may not be exact, but it will give you something new to try. A quick Google search can help you find recipes and video tutorials you can use. In a similar vein, Alexandra Brown, author of the travel guide A Year Off, also suggested signing up for a cooking class. “You can learn all about the flavors of a different region and really immerse yourself in them,” she said.
4 Take a winter walk through the neighborhood with the best Christmas lights
“It has been scientifically proven time and time again that being in nature is good for our health,” Cousteau says. “It’s relaxing, boosts Vitamin D, helps our sleep cycles, lowers blood pressure, and so much more.”
So if your wanderlust is dragging you down, take a walk outside—and do it when it’s dark and all of the decorative lights and displays are glowing. It’s an easy mood-booster, and it’s free.
5 Consume all the travel content
Just because you can’t physically be on a boat cruise to see the Northern Lights this season, doesn’t mean you can’t be there mentally. Rest assured, it’s not as sad as it sounds. Visualization can really do wonders.
“I typically read books that are travel-related, such as My Brilliant Friend or Only in Spain, to cure wanderlust,” Aspinwall said. “I also watch travel YouTube channels like Kara and Nate, which help me to both reminisce about past travels and inspire visits to future locales as well. And of course, I watch at least two episodes of House Hunters International every night.”
Imagining what it would be like to be at your dream destination will not only help to curb your wanderlust, but it can also inspire you to start planning your trip. Who knows? Maybe next year, you’ll actually be living it out.