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The Invisible Souvenir

A taste of Peru, without being in Peru (Smithsonian Folklife Festival)

When we’re far away – whether for work or play – and starting to feel a little homesick, we look for ways to reconnect with our idea of “home.” And sometimes when we’re at home, we start to feel a little “homesick” for other places around the world. You might call it being nostalgic, but there are times when you just can’t help missing a place that you love.

Fortunately, the cure for being “travelsick” is the same as for being homesick: you just have to bring a little of the place you miss back into your life. You might go to an authentic restaurant, whose pizza reminds you of the “real deal” you ate in Italy; or visit a museum with an exhibit of paintings you saw abroad; or watch a movie set in a city you visited. In Washington, DC, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will transport you to a different part of the world each year, with authentic art, dance, and food.

Better yet, to stave off the travel nostalgia before it begins, you can incorporate elements of your travels into your daily life. Even small things – like enjoying your cup of coffee at a sidewalk café, instead of drinking from a paper cup at your desk; or doing some of your shopping at a street market, instead of the grocery store – can make you feel like you brought your vacation home with you.

Of course, the truth is that we do bring our travels home with us, though often in intangible ways that we don’t immediately recognize because we can’t sit them on a shelf with the rest of our souvenirs. A change in habit, a shift in perspective, a new idea: our travels stay with us and shape our lives, long after we’ve returned home.

Home is where the heart is, and the heart is where we keep our travels.

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