There’s nothing I love more than hopping on a plane. But when I land, I need a solid base to rest and relax. I’m equal parts homebody and adventurer. As passionate as I am about travel, I enjoy sinking my teeth into a place and staying for long enough to pick up on the characteristics that make it unique.
I thought this homebody sensibility made me a rarity among regular travelers until I came across some findings that suggest otherwise. I recently stumbled on an insightful study conducted for a travel agency Thomas Cook.
The researchers discovered that even though travelers thought they were motivated by adventure and excitement, they judged how much fun they had by their comfort level throughout the trip. Small details like the plushness of the pillows had the greatest impact on someone’s experience.
Who would have thought?
Sometimes, homebodies are less likely to go on a trip because they don’t know how to adapt travel to their own rhythm and enjoyment. With that in mind, I compiled some tips for creating a home on the road from my last big trip to Scotland:
Research Logistics Ahead of Time
Some people love to travel on the fly— and a lot of people hate it. It’s okay if you’re in the latter group. The best way to prepare for a trip is to explore before you make your move. Research any logistical challenges you can imagine facing: How are you going to get from the airport into town? Do people speak English? Is safety an issue, and if so, what precautions do you need to make?
I always start this process by borrowing a few traditional travel guides from the library. They give me a basic lay of the land, and from there, I look at online magazines like Afar and travel guides from Eat This Poem, Design*Sponge, and (of course) Misadventures. By giving myself a clear understanding of the area before I take the trip, I taper any anxiety. I know I have enough information to adjust to any unexpected challenges during my travels.
Give Yourself Downtime
Even the most seasoned travelers need a moment to catch their breath. After a flight or a long car ride, take some time to catch up with yourself. If you can’t check into your apartment yet, go grab a cup of tea or a cocktail at a local restaurant. I always do a few things: I apply deodorant. I splash water on my face and apply Ursa Major’s Recovery Cream to offset any dry skin from my flight.
This kind of self-care is the difference between an awesome and difficult trip. Work it into your routine on the road. There’s nothing worse than going home (and back to work) completely exhausted. Because you’re on vacation, you’re meant to have fun — so, make time for yourself!
Stay in a Real Home
Hauling your stuff from place to place takes a lot of different energy. When I travel, I try to pick a primary base instead. On my last big trip, I decided to spend a week in Edinburgh, Scotland.
I like to rent an apartment to get that cozy, homey feeling. It means I can make breakfast and have enough space to relax on the couch without feeling cooped up. I reached out to Dickens Edinburgh for a quaint apartment in New Town. Unlike Airbnb, they vet every apartment that’s listed on their site, so you know what you’re walking into.
My flat was at the end of a mews, which are small lanes that lined with townhomes that were converted from stables. At the end of the lane, I entered a walled garden through a small wooden door and walked down to a quaint Scottish flat. For the week, I enjoyed advantages of a hotel and the warmth of a home.
Get to Know a Neighborhood
Pick out a neighborhood to stay in that has character, local flavor, and access to a couple must-see tourist destinations. Instead of focusing on seeing the best of the city, I try to focus on a distinct neighborhood first. In Edinburgh, I intentionally stayed in a part of town I didn’t know.
Every day, I took walks throughout the neighborhood, popping into shops and checking out the local restaurants. Although I spent a lot of time wandering around the city as a whole, I started at my base and worked outward, which is a great way to feel grounded in a new location.
Create a Daily Ritual
When I’m traveling, I carry an aspect of my day-to-day at home on the road. For me, that’s visiting coffee shops. I take a notebook and find a window seat at a local cafe or coffee shop. For an hour, I sit and write while taking in the scenery and eating a local snack.
This ritual helps me process my travels as they happen, and I like to do it no matter where I go. That said, it matters less what the ritual is and more that you give it a try. A friend of mine likes to go for a run every morning when she’s traveling. Bringing that continuity to a long trip across Spain gave her a different perspective.
Understand Your Limits
Did you know museum fatigue is a thing? It turns out most of us have been approaching tourist attractions the wrong way. According to art historian and travel guide Natasha Schlesinger, the more focused and limited our time at cultural attractions, the better.
Schlesinger suggests setting a time limit before you go — and sticking to it. Rather than breezing through an entire museum, focus deeply on twenty objects and leave after 90 minutes. Oh, and never go to a cultural activity hungry. Always eat a meal.
If you’re not excited about something you feel you have to do, consider skipping it. The Eiffel Tower may be beautiful, but you may have a more memorable experience popping into a boulangerie in the Marais. There’s no wrong way to travel.
Even though these tips may seem intuitive, they’re so easy to override in the moment. When we travel, we always want to make the most of our time. For homebodies, the most enjoyable, fulfilling adventures balance that exploration with a soothing pace and restful abode.