As much as I love visiting new places and trying new things, sometimes the only place I want to be is at home on the sofa curled up with tea and a magazine. Even in the middle of an amazing trip, I'll get struck with some combination of exhaustion and homesickness that inevitably leads to guilt over not fully enjoying whatever wonderful place that I happen to be. I've learned that it's important to slow down and give in to those cravings for routine, familiarity and the pleasure of doing nothing in your own space — even when you're somewhere else. The domestic amenities homebodies feel guilty for craving can actually improve a trip, allowing for relaxation and ease in a strange and exciting new place. After all, sometimes you need a day off from your vacation.
In Your Mind
Home isn't a location, it's a state of mind. Be at home in your head by giving in to your appetite for the ordinary.
- Slow Down. With an itinerary that features 4 cities (or countries!) in as many days, you'll feel pressure to see and do everything. Give yourself permission to slow down. See half as much, but get twice the enjoyment from your time.
- Take Time for Yourself. Balance travel and rest. There's no guilt about spending an afternoon in front of the TV at home, so let yourself enjoy the same peace of mind wherever you find yourself.
- Be at home, just somewhere else. If you have a routine, stick to it. If every Saturday morning at home in the city involves sleeping until noon and then grabbing a coffee in your sweats, there's no need to do things any differently in a new place.
In Your Bag
There's no one-size-fits-all packing list for bringing the comforts of home abroad, but here are some supplies that have helped myself and others feel at ease when away.
- A translator. Language barriers will have you lusting for home. Bring along a book, app or device that translates the local language to navigate a new place with ease. Popular web translator Google Translate has a free app to decipher typed text and speech, and also-free Word Lens (above) can translate signs and written language.
- Books, Magazines or an eReader. Whatever you read during downtime at home, bring it along and enjoy it with abandon. Especially if you ever travel alone or eat meals by yourself, having something to read is important. Taking a break with your favorite novel at a coffee shop is relaxing and can help you feel like one of the "locals."
- Extra outlets. Hotels never seem to have enough. Grab a surge protector with standard AC and USB outlets to plug in all of the gear you brought with you. Don't forget the travel adapters, too. The Belkin Mini Surge Protector ($24.99) is a compact choice popular with travelers, featuring 3 AC outlets and two powered USB outlets.
- White Noise. The sights are different in a new place, and the sounds follow suit. A white noise machine will help drown out any strange new sounds. With an app like White Noise Recorder (99¢, iOS) you can record and loop the ambient noise from home before you leave, taking the familiar sound of the bedroom fan with you on your travels.
(Images: Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Word Lens)