A train ride to Amsterdam, a flight to Iceland, and another flight to Oregon has brought me back. Now that I’m officially in Portland, I am feeling quite jet lagged having woken up with huge bursts of energy this morning at 4:00 AM, as my body thinks it’s the afternoon. While my friends in Europe are having lunch, it’s pitch black outside in the wee morning hours here.
Airline travel continues to mystify my mind; just the sheer fact you can travel so far in a matter of hours is incredible to me.
Upon waking up, I perused the bookshelf to quiet my mind at my friend’s house, where I’m staying for the next few days. I saw a stack of Lonely Planet books: Greece, Croatia, Andalucía, and Portugal. But then I saw a travel guide that made my heart jump: “Washington, Oregon, & the Pacific Northwest.”
It’s time to explore my own backyard. No need to worry about passports, visa restrictions, and speaking foreign languages.
There is no doubt that living abroad and international travel has shaped me in numerous ways, but I’m finding the importance of traveling locally which is a big part of my current transition to living in the states again. Just from the looks of my fellow transatlantic passengers yesterday, I was reminded of how exhausting international travel can be. It can also be quite expensive and difficult if you don’t have ample time. These downsides of international travel made me realize how much I want to explore Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
Why take a 9-hour flight when you can discover your own backyard?
Here’s to exploring your own backyard and treating your home like a foreign country. I look forward to visiting the tourist information center this week and discovering places I haven’t been to.
Here are 4 Ways to Treat Your Home Like a Foreign Country
Try at least 5 new restaurants.
One of the best things about travel is the food. You had me at tapas in Spain. While I can’t wait to visit my favorite Mexican spot multiple times, I can’t wait to try so new places. So here’s to finding new dishes and new tastes. This is going to be an easy task in Portland, Oregon with new restaurants popping up about every 5 minutes.
Discover the local history.
Here are some examples of things I’m going to do.
1. Take a walking tour. I’m going to do this one in Portland.
2. Visit a historical museum.
3. Uncover the Oregon Trail, which is something I learned about in school, but haven’t thought about for a while. Yes Europe, your history is vast and fascinating but we have pioneers in Oregon!
4. Spend time learning more about Native American culture, which unfortunately wasn’t really taught in school when I was growing up.
Visit at least 10 new places.
This can be a hiking trail, a town, a museum, etc. The main point is to make efforts to find new places I might miss by falling into my typical Oregonian routine. Something that I love about travel is that it gets me out of my comfort zone and challenges my mind. Even though I’m not on the other side of the world, I can still find ways to challenge myself.
Find your people.
Living in France taught me that sometimes you have to go out of your way to connect with people. Language and cultural issues can make it an interesting challenge to make new friends. I used Meetup.com to find a hiking group, a French language exchange group, and an English yoga class. These groups lead to meeting new friends and making lasting connections. Just because you’re in a familiar place doesn’t mean you have to fall into familiar routines. I look forward to meeting new people with the help of running groups, volunteer organizations, and events around town.
Making travel more accessible in our everyday lives is really important to me.
I hope these tips will help you find new places and discover new things in your local community. I’d like this blog to be more than just a “gallivanting around the globe” type blog. I understand, generally speaking that you might not have months or even weeks to travel internationally. There are ways to make international travel affordable and easier, which you can read about here. But maybe you don’t have time for international travel now or maybe it seems too scary.
So let’s just look in our own backyard.
I look forward to adapting my fierce love for travel in a local setting. It’s going to be a great way to see new places with a lot less fuss. I am genuinely excited to be back in Oregon. I also can’t wait to eat a burrito with a GIANT bowl of chips and guacamole.
Stay tuned for updates from the beautiful state of Oregon.
Updated: Sunday April 3, 2016