How often do you find yourself wishing you lived elsewhere? Bored of your own backyard and daydreaming of your next vacation? What if I told you satisfaction was closer than you think, and you don’t need to go anywhere to get it.
There’s an incredible article by Tim Urban, writer for Wait But Why, who illustrates the Impact Bias, “our tendency to overestimate the hedonic impact of future events.” In this article he explains that our gains aren’t what bring us happiness, but our lifestyle and perspective of what we already have.
I’d like to make that argument for anyone feeling trapped by their location. Including myself, who took years to realize that where I lived wasn’t to blame for my sorrows. Too often we overlook the beauty outside our doorsteps and forget that it’s actually a destination for many.
Here are some methods to break your routine and rejuvenate what you already have:
Be a Tourist
There are reasons people come to your city. Whether that be history, nightlife, nature, food or music – you haven’t seen them all! Tourism websites can be leveraged in the same way locally as they would while traveling. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Triposo: My #1 app when visiting a city. Triposo uses (what I believe is magic) to compile the most relevant information anywhere. This includes attractions, weather, history, eateries and watering holes. There’s also a feature to create “Walking Tours” based on your saved selections. I find their results to be more authentic than most you find on the web.
- Tripuniq: Select where you’re going, who you’re with, and what you’re interested in. Tripuniq connects you with local guides who create a customized itinerary based on your selections (starting at 5€ / day).
- With Locals: What a cool way to support locals and experience a city like never before. Browse culinary or guided experiences with people who know the city best. View their profile, reviews, and itinerary before booking. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to host yourself!
- Trip Advisor: One of the largest travel sites out there. Here, you’ll find the top sites in your city; ones we often miss since “they’ll always be there”. Expect touristy results, but remember, they’re ever-changing. Museums feature new installations all the time, and theaters showcase new headliners. Stay on the brink of these changes, and experience more than any tourist could on a single visit.
- Lonely Planet: Similar to Trip Advisor, you can find extensive travel guides on Lonely Planet. They also boast an abundant forum for travelers and locals alike. Here, you can connect on travel, destinations and events. Worth perusing for something a little different.
Get on a Mailing List
Mailing lists were how I survived in big cities. There was so much to do but not enough time to research them. Mailing lists make it easy – add your name to a few distributions, filter them into an “events” folder in your inbox and peruse before the weekend. Here are a few to start:
- National event calendars (Time Out, Eventful, UpOut)
- City-specific event calendars
- Venue-specific event calendars
- Restaurant news, suggestions, or promotions (Yelp)
- Local concerts from your favorites artists (Bandsintown, Songkick)
- Discounted attractions (Groupon, LivingSocial)
Meet your Neighbors
There’s one thing that makes any city unique, and that’s the people. There are a slew of apps/websites that connect you to locals and events. Among my favorites:
As an avid Couchsurfer, I always ask hosts, “Why do you do what you do?” It’s common they answer, “The enthusiasm guests bring for my city.” What hosts had otherwise become accustomed to – or normalized – was now a destination. A place someone had looked forward to, told their friends about, and paid to experience. Hosting reminds them what makes their city special, and gives them a reason to go out and see it through new eyes.
Develop Your Friend Circle
There’s nothing more valuable than building your core support. But too often, we fall into a false supposition that they’ll always be there. And that’s not the case. People move physically, and they also move emotionally. And the capacity in which they’re in your lives tomorrow depends on how strong those ties are today. So stop flaking on people, stop meeting at the same bar week-after-week, and make an honest effort to nurture something bigger.
There’s an awesome app for social scheduling called Doodle where you create events with multiple availabilities. Your friends mark which ones they’re free, and the app spits out a visual of which dates overlap. Now, “Let’s hang out soon!” actually turns into something tangible.
Another good one, SupperClub, helps encourage/organize dinner parties with your friends. With this, you can plan weekly cocktail hours, monthly potlucks, etc. Giving you and your group something to look forward to and reminisce of in years to come.
Too many people look elsewhere for answers. They depend on the fantasy of travel to soothe their longings and distress. But in fact, travel won’t provide sustainable satisfaction by itself. It’s what you hold already – the people, experiences and perspectives – that make any place worth living. For any backyard can be bright depending through which window you look.