Excitement. Relaxation. Freedom. Joy. Adventure. When holidays come to mind memories rule. They can take us any place we’ve ever been in seconds and have us re-live our experiences. In a Walter Mittyesque kind of way we can daydream about holidays past and future. Travel operators thrive on our imagination. Travel website Wotif.com implies this in its very name. How many times have we gone, “What if?” and booked a holiday. I don’t think it’s pretentious to say that most people would choose creating memories by going on holidays over buying material things.
Holidays induce forgiveness. We forgive and forget the discomfort of long flights, train and bus rides, jetlag, missed connections, misplaced luggage, import duties, queues, and border inspections. We remember meeting new people, smiling at strangers in the streets, the thrills (and horrors, which one’s better?) of being lost in a strange place, securing that last minute bargain booking, enjoying breath-taking sceneries, trying tasty foods, gazing at starry nights, dancing with a loved one in a romantic setting, jumping into cold water in scorching heat, or relishing a warm drink by a fireplace in bitter cold.
What holiday memories can you recall? Think for a moment. Let yourself be carried wherever those memories would take you. And how do you feel now?
Our experiences will differ, but most of us want more of that holiday-like feeling. And I believe we can have that feeling even when we’re not on a holiday. How, you ask?
By acting as a tourist in your own town! If you Google this phrase, you’ll find that many have written about it. It’s frequently framed in the context of rising living costs and financial crises forcing people to budget more frugally, and holiday more locally.
I’d like to invite you to set yourself to a tourist mode, not because of a lack of money, but because of the abundance you possess in you, which is the real source of excitement, joy, freedom and adventure. Everyone wants to feel great and create amazing memories every day of their life. Why not you, me, and everyone we know? Why not every day? Why not now?
Here are some tips from my arsenal of tools for setting myself to tourist mode. On any given day take your lunch break, or any sliver of time you can afford to go out there acting as if you’re a tourist. You may already take regular timeouts to meet your friends or attend cultural events. Acting as if you’re a tourist in the place where you live is a whole new experience beyond your normal social life.
No matter where you live there must be some tourist attractions there. I know it helps if you live in a major world city with amazing history and architecture and possibly a lifestyle that is caveted for around the globe. Although we can’t deny the beauty of a place, most of our desires are products of lifelong conditioning depending on where we grew up. If you wander downtown in the place where you live, you’ll probably find tourists having a great time while you’re feeling stressed out by the daily grind.
This is not about pretending to be someplace else. It is about being more present with your senses and mind wide open to embrace experiences not only when you’re away from home. You can set yourself to tourist mode in your own town.
Have a coffee. Watch people go by. Mingle with other tourists. If you live in a small place, imagine what would a tourist do and where would they go. Open your eyes to your surroundings with curiosity. Let go of your thoughts that drive you to the future or the past. Tourists let go of them all the time. So be a tourist. On holidays we just decide that for the duration of our trip we’ll forget all that’s unpleasant. We can do it every day.
I know, a part of us wants to be “realistic” about this and say that sour grapes are still sour grapes and sweet lemons are the same. But, let’s be realistic. A great destination can help us forget our reality back home. But recharging batteries doesn’t mean leaving the home behind. We often find coming home pleasurable after a long trip. Memories sometimes don’t kick in until a few months after. Whatever the reason, we come back stronger and better. And we can feel that way every day if we choose to have a holiday every day. Why wait until the next holiday to feel as if you’re on a holiday?
I live in Sydney, Australia. Every time I wander down to the Sydney Harbour I feel grateful for my good fortune to be calling home a place of such natural beauty. Put all the landmarks and manmade objects aside, this is a remarkable place. But even the most amazing places can become familiar. When you commute across the Harbour Bridge every day after a while you stop noticing where you are. We usually focus on where we’re not.
So I get a Sydney map, walk down to the main tourist area called the Circular Quay, and act as a tourist. I ask for directions. On days when we allow office politics and people we work with to weigh heavily on our minds, it’s especially nice to be greeted with kindness from random passers-by when you ask for help. Whenever I can I schedule a day off, or part thereof, find a cafe downtown, meet friends for lunch at a bench in a park, or take a stroll through the tourist area. Nothing can clear a mind like a change of scenery. There are handcraft shops, art galleries, and museums to reward you every time you pay them a visit.
You’ll notice a new refreshing dynamic around you. You’ll notice people you don’t know. You’ll feel the place in a different way. It might just feel as if you’re in a different time zone. While a few blocks away people may be rushing to work or someplace else they need to be, you can be a tourist in your own town.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re right. Setting ourselves to tourist mode is simply put taking a break. But acting “as if” over time can shift our perceptions and beliefs. We can create new memories we will be fond of. And we can do this every day.
Not having to work, or having no pressure to be somewhere at a given time and do what we don’t feel like doing are all good reasons we love holidays. But if we had all the money we ever needed to live without having to work for the rest of our lives, I believe that going on a holiday would still appeal to us. If we’re not stressing about money, health or relationships, then there’s got to be something else about holidays that makes us drawn to them. Perhaps it’s the excitement and joy of discovering the unknown. Every discovery of the outside world is a look into ourselves. And so we daydream. And then we remember. Today we create experiences and memories which we’ll believe in tomorrow.