I have a secret: I hate traveling.
Not just because of logistical nightmares like delayed flights, lost luggage, or jet lag. I mean I hate to leave home. I love my daily routine. Predictability helps me feel calm and relaxed. I have a dog, houseplants, and a workout regimen, and I work a nine-to-five job. It’s very easy for me to stay in my comfort zone, and that’s why I make myself travel. I may not be a spontaneous jet-setter or a particularly adventurous backpacker, but I do enjoy experiencing new cultures and discovering amazing places.
Luckily, throughout my travels over the past few years (including Europe, the Caribbean, and a road trip across the US), I’ve found there are lots of ways you can bring pieces of home with you on the road to make it more comfortable. So if you, like me, are a creature of habit who is still eager to see the world, here is a traveler’s guide for people who like to stay home.
Pack what’s already in your closet
If you find it less than appealing to live out of a suitcase, you’ll want to give this tip a try. When I first started traveling, I’d impulsively buy a whole new vacation wardrobe almost as soon as I booked my flights. I would buy “vacation-themed” items I’d otherwise never wear, like long dresses and brightly colored tops for beach vacations or fancy scarves and a leather jacket for Europe. But once I was traveling, I’d never wear the new clothes. Instead, I’d go straight for my favorite pair of jeans and T-shirt. I’ve finally learned that when I’m in a new place, an all-new wardrobe is the last thing I want. A vacation is not the right time to find out that a pair of new pants stretch out quickly or a top is way too sheer. Stick to the clothes you love and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
Now I only pack what’s in my closet. This way, even if I’m in an unfamiliar place, I won’t also be second-guessing my outfit.
Save room for small luxuries
When I travel, I challenge myself to pack light. But I do leave room for a few small luxuries. These are the things that aren’t essential, but that I use daily at home. For example, I love my bath soap. Hotel soap leaves my skin feeling rubbery and smelling like a hotel bathroom. The soap I use every day makes me feel soft and clean with a much better scent. Plus, when I pack my favorite toiletries from home, I won’t have to use my precious vacation time hunting any items down.
Think about those little things that help you stay in sync when you start to feel out of sorts. Have a little extra space in your luggage? Stash a travel-sized version of your perfume. Booked an Airbnb with access to a kitchen? Bring a bag of coffee you love to make in the mornings.
It might look ridiculous to your travel buddy, but a few familiar smells, tastes, or feelings from home make all the difference.
Do things you actually love to do
On a recent solo trip to Berlin, I stayed in a hostel. I decided to join a pub crawl event that the hostel was hosting. Even though I’m typically a moderate drinker who prefers a quiet cocktail bar over a nightclub, I knew Berlin was known for its nightlife and convinced myself to do something I would have never done otherwise.
The night went as you might have expected: Everyone got belligerently drunk. I paced myself enough to stay sober and headed back to my room halfway through the night.
If you stack your itinerary with things you feel pressured to do, your trip will start to feel like a chore. Not an adrenaline junky? Skip the zip lines in Costa Rica. Maybe art museums bore the hell out of you? Then don’t waste your time at the Met. Some people will balk at the fact that you didn’t visit famous landmarks or do the touristy activities that these cities are famous for, but hopefully that means you had an unforgettable time doing things you really enjoyed.
Leave your place neat and clean
I know there’s a lot to do before you travel, but I really recommend leaving your home exceptionally clean and tidy. The day you return from your trip, all you’ll want to do is rest, relax, and remember why you love where you live. If you open the front door to clothes strewn everywhere, trash you forgot to take out, and dirty dishes in the sink, you’ll have bittersweet feelings about being back (and probably a funky smell). Take 30 minutes the night before your trip to tidy up—you’ll thank yourself. And for an added bonus, keep a couple ready-made meals in the freezer or snacks for something quick to eat after a long day of travel to get home, especially if you arrive late at night.
I might never quit my job to live a vagabond life or have an Instagram worthy of “wanderlust” hashtags, but I do know that seeing the world is still at the top of my to-do list. Everyone travels differently, so give yourself permission to find what works for you.