Here’s something you might have always known but may have never articulated: We travel with our minds, not our bodies. Our “remembering self” makes us who we are, not our “experiencing self,” according to Nobel-winning research from Daniel Kahneman.
Understanding that opens a world of possibilities when it comes to travel. When funds, time or energy levels are low but you still want to “go places,” consider these practical travel alternatives.
Anticipating an adventure is equally as powerful as actually experiencing the places we desire. Kahneman’s work corroborate this truth. But you can’t look forward to something unless you plan for it, so start by setting a goal. Make a list of places you want to visit and things you want to do while there. Discovering them online in rich, exhausting detail. Chart every square inch of them. Then bask in the waiting period until the means finally become available.
If we mostly travel with our minds, then we can trick them sometimes without ever taking a step. Adventurous books and daring movies are the best way I know how to do this. Essentially: how to go somewhere without leaving home. At the same time, our “experiencing self” remains an important piece of the enjoyment puzzle, as that profound scene from Good Will Hunting so eloquently explains. So seek out experiences first. Then fill the moments in between with mental road trips. That’s how you tour by proxy.
Seeing or doing something you’ve never seen or done is the easiest way to change your perspective. That’s why travel is so popular. But you don’t have to leave your immediate surroundings to accomplish this. It could be done on a hike or day trip to a less familiar side of town. Going into a store or park you’ve always noticed but never visited. Taking a new route to a well-known place or going to it under different lighting conditions (i.e. time of day). Surveying your backyard by helicopter or other height-changing means. Or seeing the most popular nearby tourist attractions you’ve missed. I’ve lived in the same city for 13 years and am still discovering news ways of experiencing it.
For the 25% of you already doing this—either professionally or recreationally—keep up the good work. For everyone else, there’s power in painting, drawing, sculpting and photography. Performing arts, too. Why? Because art can change your view of the world. Like “disorienting yourself” and “living vicariously,” creating art forces you to view the world from a different perspective. And that’s precisely what all travel should do. Now make something.
Photo: Blake Snow
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Follow him on Twitter.