How to practice travel (when you’re NOT traveling)

How to practice travel image of large housePractice travel while you have the time at home

Can’t travel right now? No worries. You can still practice travel. Most people think of travel as something you just do. But travel is a skill. And like all skills, the more you practice travel, the better you get.

Some elements of travel such as the overwhelming novelty of a place, the sense of being a complete outsider or even the physical effects of jet lag may require actually being on a trip. But even many of these can be practiced at home. Think of it like a sport, say tennis. You can work on every dimension of your game – serve, volley, lobs, strokes, etc. – in practice. But some of the psychological components only become evident in a match. However, without the practice, the game won’t be much fun.

The difference is that with travel, most people think they can just hop on a plane and arrive somewhere and have a great time. And they can. But they – and you – can have a better time if you practice before you leave.

10 ways to practice travel at home

To practice travel well, it helps to break down the various skills involved in being a good traveler. I’ve just produced a free guide on How to Practice Travel When You’re NOT Traveling. It covers the following ten skills you can practice at home before a trip to make that trip more meaningful and satisfying:

  1. Learn to practice intentionally. Not just doing a cursory repetition of what you’re learning, but a focused approach where you concentrate on the areas that challenge you most. In the free guide, you’ll learn some key tips on how to learn a language faster and better.
  2. Learn how to connect your worlds. This means taking what you love to do at home and applying it to your trip. It also means practicing skills related to that hobby or passion now so you don’t have to think about them as much on your trip. 
  3. Learn how to practice packing. Think you’ve got packing nailed down? Find out about the different forms of packing and how to use your time at home to prove to yourself you can get by on much fewer clothes on a trip than you imagined.
  4. Learn how to practice noticing. You’ll discover some new wonders when you learn how to pay attention to the hidden wonder all around you. Best of all, you’ll find out how to break the addiction to distraction many of us feel and why once you learn how to do this, you’ll never be bored anywhere.
  5. Discover the freedom in limitations. Shift your focus from what you can’t do right now to what you can. Find out how having a purpose or quest makes any trip better and why having constraints on what you can do actually makes you more creative.
  6. Learn how to plan a surprise trip. Practice travel by planning a surprise trip for someone else or use one of the links in the guide to find travel companies who will prepare an entire surprise trip for you. 
  7. Create magic moments for others. A surprise trip is a great example of something you can do for others that creates an experience both you and they will never forget. Practice travel by learning how to do this at home so you’re better prepared to create magic moments on a trip. In the presentation on this topic I did for The Nomadic Network (which I recommend joining as a great way to connect with other travelers) I gave the example of a guy who buys a coffee for himself and then a juice and a sandwich. He tips the barista well and asks her to deliver the juice and sandwich to a homeless man on a bench outside the café. She hesitates, but he assures her he’ll be watching. She does it and comes back beaming. He did a kind act for the man on the bench, but he created a magic moment for the barista who would likely never have done that on her own. 
  8. Read in a different way. Don’t just read the same old travel blogs or guidebooks. Discover new ways to discover by reading literature written by local authors or about the places you’ll visit. Learn about other sources of great travel insights that aren’t necessarily travel specific. See the example pages from the guide below for this skill.
  9. Improve your research chops. Learn how to plan a trip in a different way. Instead of looking for everything you could do in a place, find one lesser-known sight or experience there and drill down on that, then plan your trip around that one great, hidden experience. 
  10. Do the opposite. Like the episode of the old Seinfeld sitcom where George decides to do everything opposite of his normal inclinations, do the same with both planning and activities. If you’re used to one way of researching a trip, say through written materials, try planning a trip just by asking friends and friends of friends. 

Wrapping it up

This gives you a general idea of ten skills to help you practice travel at home. Try to come up with some ideas yourself on skills you can practice now to improve your trips later.

Most of all, sign up to get the free guide for details along with a wealth of links to other great resources on these topics. When you sign up, you’ll also have access to numerous other guides, from all the Traveler Type guides to an ebook on How to Take Awesome Travel Photos to many others. 

Finally, here’s an example of two pages from the guide related to Exercise #8, Read in Different Ways, to give you a sense of what the guide is like.

How to practice travel by reading differently - books