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Treatment for the Travel Twitch (or, Living Like a Tourist)

The US Capitol at the peak of cherry blossom season

It seems a bit strange to kick off this blog with a piece about NOT traveling. But it’s been on my mind lately.

The last year has been a busy one, with my move to Washington and the launch of Mockingbird. As a result, I haven’t traveled outside the US in longer-than-I-care-to-admit. And I’m starting to come down with a bad case of the Travel Twitch.

The Travel Twitch generally resurfaces after long periods of non-travel, although it occasionally also pops up immediately after a particularly satisfying trip. It’s exacerbated by the travels of family and friends, particularly those who use social media while traveling. It’s characterized by a restless, vaguely longing, and slightly itchy state that, if left untreated, can lead you to book a last-minute flight to somewhere you didn’t really want to go.

The only known cure for the Travel Twitch is, of course, to travel. I recommend using the Travel Twitch to motivate you to plan a trip you’ve been wanting to take for a long time, rather than just seizing the first deal to come along. Depending on the severity of your Twitch, you might want to shorten your planning time and go sooner rather than later (and if you’re too busy to pull that off, you can – ahem – use a travel consultant).

To alleviate the symptoms of the Travel Twitch while you wait for your departure date, I suggest trying this tactic: Live like a tourist. It’s the corollary to the popular “travel like a local” philosophy, and it can do wonders for your daily life. It’s simple: approach your hometown as if you were a tourist with just a few days to spend there. Go to a local museum. Check out the farmer’s market on the other side of town. Take a tour of some fancy government buildings. Sorry you missed out on the tulips in Holland this spring? Try your local botanical garden; it may not match the Keukenhof, tulip for tulip, but it’s nice to remember that there’s beauty to be found close to home.

In Washington, DC, living like a tourist is as easy as taking a walk. My regular exercise route takes me around the US Capitol, which at this time of year is always awash in something blooming (including tourists). But even I have to make a little extra effort once in a while. I do have some travel plans in the works (more on that soon!), but in the meantime I made a reservation to go to the top of the Washington Monument (plan far in advance unless you want to stand in line at 8am, which I don’t), and I’ll be checking out the Meridian Hill Park drum circle, which despite having taken place every Sunday for 50 years, I have yet to experience.

Fingers crossed, the Twitch will abate until I can get myself on an airplane again.

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