Even just affording to LIVE — groceries, rent, health insurance, allergy meds, water bills, paying back student loans, replacing brake pads — adds up. That's all sans luxuries like the occasional manicure, new tattoo, or restaurant meal. It can really suck, and at times, even feel like life is robbing you. Such as when you contract strep throat despite rigorous daily vitamin C blasts and have to pay up for a costly doctor visit, test, and then antibiotics. It's not like you wanted to get sick or did something rotten to deserve such bummer luck. But! That's part of the whole hilarious ~adulthood~ thing, and it's not like it ever gets cheap to just live.
Despite all that, our urges and impulses don't really understand or reflect logic. While on hold with the bank to dispute a weird $18 debit card charge that actually does make a difference thanks, our minds may zoom a thousand miles away to some exotic mountain range. While stuck in traffic en route to work, a honk from behind might be the only effective way to snap out of brain visions of delicious, foreign street fare. That kind of dreamy stuff doesn't take into account the very real current state of our dwindling bank accounts. So how can a person realistically indulge such feelings while remaining fiscally responsible? There are ways to flip and remix the traditional staycation and make this happen:
Learn How To Whip Up An Unfamiliar Dish
Aching to experience the rush of Mumbai, but there's that desolate bank account holding you back? Do a little research on foods local to a region you want to visit that don't need expensive ingredients. For example, here's a simple naan recipe that really only calls for flour, water, oil, and seeds.
Save Seeds While Cooking And See If You Can't Grow Something
Scrape out and set aside produce seeds so you can dry and plant 'em. Adding plant life to your periphery — not to mention, kickstarting a healthy, practically MAGIC (PLANTS, guys) project — is straight up life affirming (and delish). Plus, it's not like you had to pay specially for the seeds in this scenario.
Rearrange Your Furniture
Nothing like mixing up your immediate space (while also nixing Rambo dust bunnies) to make it feel brand new. Here's a helpful guide for getting started with feng shui, in case that's a thing you'd like to try. (And if you don't? No big, switch it back.) It's a 100 percent cost-free method for renovating your pad.
Try Out Some Local Hikes
It's a free way to get your blood flowing and oxygen up while scoping your town from a new elevation.
Follow A Few Travel Blogs Or Instagram Accounts
Here's a good jumping-off point for finding dope women traveling alone while documenting it. Live vicariously while also taking notes for when you get to live it yourself.
Video Chat With Far Away Friends
Get them to give a tour of their apartment and introduce you to friends and neighbors. If they're able to chat mobile-style, see if they won't take you on a stroll around some of their favorite haunts. Who says you can't drink your own French press at your place while watching them order a legit, local brew across the globe? You can still sip and chat together just the same.
Start A Pen Pal Situation
I mean with envelopes and stamps and stuff — because seriously? It doesn't hurt to practice your handwriting. Reach out to a buddy who moved abroad, or set out to find a new faraway friend altogether. It doesn't have to involve pricey gifts or anything. You may feel lukewarm on your hometown, but that kind of exotic stuff could be majorly interesting to someone on the opposite coast. The two of you can regularly swap local artifacts and anecdotes. After enough exchanges, you might even have a pretty accurate mental picture of this place based on letters alone.
Send Your Stuffed Animal Somewhere Cool In Your Place
Apparently a Japanese company exists that ships your stuffed animals to and photographs them in weird places. It's a steep fee for a photo (about $50) since that's essentially all you get out of it, but much cheaper then sending yourself, so... yeah.
Play The Tourist, Locally
Grab a friend and spend your next day off exploring all the free offerings of your city — because chances are, there are a whole bunch. Start with parks if the weather is conducive, otherwise Google free museums and galleries in your area. Too often we get overly comfortable with our routines and in the process, totally forget about all the unique (and free!) experiences available literally down the street.
There's this really great website, Couchsurfing, that links up travelers with eligible crash pads. If you and your roommates feel comfortable doing so, open up your place to folks rolling through your city. I did this a lot in college and met some really rad kids from as far as New Zealand and Quebec. By laundry-listing possible activities or spots to hit while in town refreshed my appreciation for it (and keep in mind, this was Jacksonville, Fla. — not the most cosmopolitan or scenic of locales). Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can open yours to your surroundings. It's also a great way to meet people from super different cultures and learn about them through this accidental ambassador. And better yet: I kept in touch with everyone we hosted, because guess what? That means when I do have the dough to jet to Montreal or Auckland on the books, I already have a floor to sleep on.