OK, I’ve been there. It seems like all your friends are are on summer travel programs traveling outside of the United States for the summer, places like Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, or Brazil. Everyone that is, except for you and a few classmates you weren’t that close to last semester.
Well, you’re in luck. You can have awesome travel experiences without ever leaving your hometown. Call up those fellow classmates, spark some new friendships, and go on an international vacation within 15 minutes of home. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Eat exotically.
Get beyond pizza. Pick up a few baked Parisian specialties at your local French bakery. For lunch, try a Greek gyro café or the Turkish kabob house. When dinnertime rolls around, drive to the closest Italian restaurant for a big pile of fettucini. Or go out on a limb and try a new ethnic cuisine - Brazilian feijoda anyone?
Make it a summer project to eat your way through the world - either by discovering restaurants or learning to cook adventurously. The best part is that it will cost about a 100th of what your friends paid for the “real thing” and you didn’t need to sit on a long flight to get there.
2. Explore the familiar.
To you, your hometown is just … home. But it probably has a rich and extensive history and boasts a few small or quirky museums explaining its past and how it fits with the rest of the world.
My hometown of Monterey, Calif., was an important trading post for the Spanish when they first started colonizing our West Coast. We have a museum downtown dedicated to our rich marine history, but I didn’t visit until I was about 15. I’d learned about California history in school, but it was only after this visit that I understood the importance Monterey held for the Spanish, the first settlers, and the Native Americans.
Even if you can’t travel abroad, you can still travel through time.
3. Learn to parlez.
I promise you, that you’re not the only person interested in travel who’s staying at home.
And many people who are plan on traveling in the near future join a language club or sign up for a summer foreign language class, either online or in person. Spending time around other people who think about the world beyond your town border is a great way to expand your horizons and prepare for a future trip.
Or, if you're already taking a language, try a couple of foreign films and see if you can follow without the subtitles.
I took a German course while I was in high school, and even though it was technically more homework, it was loads of fun. We ended the course with a large German party, I got to eat lots of German food, and the course proved immensely useful when I visited Germany the following year.
If you know where you want to travel in the future, being around people who have a similar interest is a great way to learn about a far-off destination, even if you can’t afford to get there this year.