For me, as with other people, the words “travel” and “adventure” have usually walked hand-in-hand with “anywhere but here.” My parents first planted the seeds of interest in things outside of my circle with public television and National Geographic. My maternal grandparents had the resources to make an annual trip somewhere and return with presents, photos and stories. As a kid, I wanted to be able to visit these places someday.
I finally took my first trip abroad in March 2000, heading to Germany and Italy with some friends. I ordered my first passport just before Christmas and had it back shortly after New Year’s. I drank wine and watched a movie on a flight for the first time. I got to take night trains to and from Italy and ride a bullet train. I got to eat Poland’s interpretation of American pizza, have red wine at a trattoria, and have beer in a hofbrau in Münich. I got to see ruins in Rome and buy a rosary for Mom in Vatican City.
Sixteen years ago, I began my career as an actor and soon thereafter a circus performer, touring the US and the world. I wanted to be able to visit younger me and tell him what extraordinary experiences were waiting.
The more important lesson came next: even the extraordinary becomes ordinary and it can lose its luster. It became increasingly important to spend time with other people, not only because I missed the luxury of spending time with family and friends, but to be able to understand travel.
Any opportunity to spend time with a friend or family member quickly turned into story time. Their concern was how boring it must be to recount tales of my experiences over and over. I learned that it had the opposite effect and helped me reconnect with the wonder of the experience. More importantly, it helped me reconnect with the importance of home.
Without “home” there is no place that can be “away from home.” And the more I was away from home — or my two homes, rather — the more I learned that adventure was there, too.
Returning home after such extensive travel led to a new adventure and yielded new things to learn. As I was growing through travel and experiencing new things, so were the places I called home. Each return home meant a new chance not only to revisit favorite places, but to explore hidden places I didn’t know of, to rediscover the joy of places I forgot existed, or to learn about something that hadn’t been there before.
When I first started traveling around the country, I wanted to go around the world and once I started to go around the world, I didn’t want to stop.
Any part of traveling is coming back home, and that can’t be done if there isn’t a “home” to return to. If you’re feeling stuck at home after time spent traveling, here are some suggestions for ways to find the adventure at home:
1) Play the tourist role. When you’re talking with your friends ask them about out of the way or hidden places they consider that every visitor should see. Which places should a visitor eat? What’s new? What’s old? Performing a web search can sometimes yield lists of local areas that feature some more obscure attractions that can be pay dirt for the locally curious adventurer.
2) Defer choices. When meeting and reconnecting with friends, they may ask you what you’ve been missing, which is completely understandable. Take a couple opportunities to defer to your friend(s) and let them know you’d be interested in experiencing one of their favorite places, especially if it’s somewhere you haven’t experienced.
3) Wander. Chances are there are places you’ve heard about. Leave the car parked and walk, hop a bus, or ride a bike around. You see more when you’re “closer to the ground”.
4) Go hunting. Was there a type of cuisine that you liked where you traveled? Is there a place in your area that has that type of cuisine or the ingredients for you to learn how to make it? Seek it out and take advantage of it.
I’m not done traveling, and maybe not even done touring. But I’ve explored a number of cities across the hemispheres, and it’s time to explore Home and the Me that has returned here. In doing so, I get to share and spread the wonder of adventure to a lot more people. The look in people’s eyes and the effect my tales have is an adventure of its own, and one that is easier to come by now that I’m in one place for a while.