Have you ever had a relative or a friend travel from a long distance away to visit you? Once initial contact has been made, the planning begins. What do you want to do? What do you want to see? Where should we eat?
Pretty soon you find yourself thinking about this, a lot. If we only have two dinners with them, which two restaurants should we go to? We only have one full day together, what is the absolute best experience we can have? What if it rains?
There’s a small insecurity in us that hopes they leave after their visit and think “What an impressive place”.
It’s nearly like a job interview, we present the best version of our reality, and leave out all the rest.
It’s unfortunate that the places we are so eager to showcase to others can be the same places we wish we visited more frequently ourselves.
Everyday life has a tendency to dull our sense of curiosity. Whilst routine brings comfort, complacency soon follows. Whilst we never chose monotony, we can decide to choose something new today. It’s time to rediscover newness, to be surprised and to get lost in our own city.
It’s time to live like a tourist.
I’m all for a good holiday; travelling to a new city is quite possibly my favourite experience in the world. Whilst I believe we’re meant to enjoy a good break, there’s an imbalance present if we are simply waiting for our next wanderlust fix.
If we are to find the best in every day, then our week-to-week life needs to change.
What I want to do for a moment is take a second to consider tourism. At the very core of tourism is creating memories. Some of my favourite memories are somehow related to travel; going to the snow as a kid with my family, attending a village church in Papua New Guinea, eating illegally hot green curry in Phuket, or enjoying a Tequila shot in Tijuana.
The problem is, no-one is paying us to holiday for them. So, rather than be unhappy for the majority of our lives, why don’t we see what we can learn from the tourist version of ourselves?
Below are three simple steps to help you live like a tourist. It’s not comprehensive, and maybe it’s oversimplified but it’s a start.
Design your experience.
It turns out the internet is more than buzzfeed and lip-sync battles. There are so many options at our disposal to ensure we squeeze every last drop of adventure out of our holiday. TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon, and Lonely Planet are just some of the great tools available. We are currently in holiday planning mode, and I can’t tell you how many hours have been spent making travel budgets, researching travel blogs and reviewing AirBnB pages.
When was the last time you took time to design a great experience in your own city? What community events are happening? Any new restaurants? You probably walk past restaurants every day that you’ve never been to, and they might not be terrible. I paid £6 for 12 dumplings the other day, only a few hundred metres from my house. I still drool occasionally when I think about them.
Take time to savour the experience of planning. Let yourself be excited about the possibility of enjoying your home town. Have a ‘bucket-list’ of things you would like to do around where you live, then be intentional about ticking things off.
Experience your experience. Actually go and do something new. I know, this sounds so simple that it could be left out, but at some point, you’ve actually got to stop planning and do something!
Set a date, call your friend, make it happen.
Share your experience: The best experiences are often with someone else. For Phoebe and I, it’s the great moments that we have shared that draw us closer together. If you’re intentional about sharing your everyday experiences with others it can only lead to richer relationships.
Capture your experience. Take a photo! If you’re not one of the ‘shoot and tell’ types, that’s fine, take one for your own collection. For me, taking photos forces me to engage even more in the experience, and when I look at particular photos I can feel them, the warmth, the wonder, and I remember who I was with.
Life wasn’t meant to be about waiting for our next holiday.
You and I can enjoy every day as we learn to live like a tourist.