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The Perpetual Vacation: How to Extend Your Holiday All Year

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Did your summer vacation seem to short? This post will help you extend it. Immediately.

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By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster

Travel — the epic, transformational kind that involves passports, airports, disconnecting from the Matrix, good socks and an open mind — is deeply compelling for most of us.

Journeying expands our thinking, generates meaningful friendships and — if you’re Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert — can lead to a bestseller, a blockbuster movie and a marriage.

After a long-anticipated trip to Ireland to celebrate reaching my half life (age 50), I recently had plenty of time to think on the long ride home about what made the trip so special. And realized, with relief and surprise, that the joys and journeys of travel don’t have to involve visas and liquids in Ziplocs.

Travel, adventure and being present enough to uncover the unexpected, can happen right down the street from home — when I pack the right attitude, enough curiosity and some resourcefulness. I can (intentionally!) leave my cell phone behind, stroll just a few blocks, walk into my Seattle neighborhood’s Irish pub order a Guinness, enjoy some live music…and simply chat up those around me rather than distract myself with Facebook. Voila: The Emerald Isle comes alive in the Emerald City.

And when I take this short walk with a traveler’s openness vs. a resident’s blasé-ness, I see my usual world with new eyes. You can too — by uncovering what about your all-too-familiar world can be seen with a fresh, eye-opening attitude.

How can we extend the joys of vacation across a broad time span? By consistently taking short, intentional “staycations” in line with our dreams and interests.

Let’s say you’re lusting to visit London. Many visit this global city for its museums, its tea, its walkability. To help scratch your British travel itch without booking a flight on British Airways, how can you experience some of “London” in your own town? What local museums have you yet to visit? What tea room or café beacons where you can order the finest pot on the menu, sit down with an Agatha Christie novel and people watch? How about signing up for a local architectural tour that puts your city in its own historical perspective?

Or maybe you’re mad for Marrakesh — and the sights, sounds and smells of the famed market in this Moroccan city. Why not find some favorite North African recipes, treat yourself to a visit to an upscale grocer or local spice market and invite some friends over for a home-cooked feast, with Moroccan music in the background and perhaps a slide show hosted by someone who’s been there already?

You may be eying Istanbul to see fascinating mosques and take in a Turkish bath. Chances are, a mosque is well within geographical reach of your home, and a visit to it could open up a whole new way of looking at the world. As for that bath? A web search for a spa, or a purchase of Turkish bath salts and — with your eyes closed and your imagination open — you’re on your way.

I firmly believe anytime we take time to intentionally create new experiences for ourselves out of something familiar, we experience travel: time travel, mind travel, kind-to-our-wanderlust travel.

And when you are ready to actually pack your bags, consider the following fresh alternatives:

My American-by-birth friends George Walther and his wife Barbie Taylor are among the most intentional, creative and adventurous travelers I know. Every year, they purposefully choose to live in a different country.

With a modest budget, a manageable amount of belongings — and you can bet a long list of dear friends across time zones — they’ve lived so far in over a half dozen countries, including Monte Carlo, Monaco; Penang, Malaysia; Nice, France; Barcelona, Spain; Honolulu, Hawaii; Whistler, British Columbia; and now Cape Town, South Africa.

Granted, their careers allow them to work from anywhere, yet such flexibility is more common as more professions and jobs become virtual. What possibilities does this open up for you?

If your wanderlust says oui but the check book says non, look into home exchange websites. Have a penchant for Paris, but live in Philly? You could connect with a French family who finds your home fetching, and before you know it, you’ll be sipping vin in their Paris flat while they indulge in some cheesesteak sandwiches in yours.

Again, you need not live abroad to live with a perpetual “holiday” mindset. Why not use AirBnB to uncover a cool place in your own city, or nearby? A quick search on AirBnB listings in my home city of Seattle lists a beach house, a houseboat, a condo atop the famed Pike Place Market, ad infinitum.

You could also gather friends or another family and treasure hunt your way to an affordable regional adventure with a site like Vacation Rental By Owner.

Indeed, bidding bon voyage need not be a function of how far we physically travel. Adventure can happen today, right in our own neighborhoods, courtesy of our expanded perspectives and willingness to be present to ceaseless possibilities rather than to just our cell phones.

So where will your perpetual vacations take you? Share your journeys with us here.

Photo image from photographer Foto on Flickr.

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