Those of you who have read the book or seen the film Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, will know exactly what I mean when I speak about the north wind. This is a story about Vianne Rocher, a young woman whose mother comes from a lineage of nomadic women who were healers and mystics and used cacao as their potion. Vianne and her daughter Anouk are bound to travel to a new town or destination whenever the north wind blows, and thereby share the sacred magic of chocolate around.
In the film this strong urge to travel from town to town is illustrated by the north wind whereas for me it as more of an enticing inner urge to just keep moving. I’m not really sure why I get it, I think it’s just a part of me and I know that from time to time this feeling grows very strong and sometimes I listen to it and other times I choose to stay.
Right now this feeling is very strong however I choose to stay because I feel this is what I need. I want travel to be spontaneous and impulsive not out of habit or acting compulsive. And just to be clear, going on holidays negotiated with workplaces is NOT travelling. That’s simply taking a break from one’s current experience of life and seeing something new!
So what do you do when the traveller’s curse to keep on moving becomes too strong but you know that right now is not the time to go? Here are my eleven favourite tricks to keep that pesky yet enlightening north wind at bay:
1. Run for the hills on a weekend. I for one, and I know many of you agree, live in the bubble of the city or town that we reside in and forget that there is a whole world out there that looks and feels differently, and simply taking a road trip somewhere new with abundant fresh air can give us a whole new perspective on life. Don’t have a friend to go with? Go on your own! Solo road trips have the potential for magic. Don’t have a car /motorbike / etc? (don’t worry neither do I) Take the train! This is all about putting yourself into a state of adventure and trying out new things.
2. Read a book set in a foreign or magical land. Reading is taking a journey in itself whilst remaining in the comfort of your own home. How convenient! No packing or unpacking to do and no wondering where you will sleep tonight!
3. Learn a new language. Preferably one you might actually use in the near future. There are some amazing apps available for smart phones these days as highlighted in this article featuring 80 Apps to Learn a New Language. Technology is making it easier and easier for us to gather information, educate ourselves and adopt new cultures, beliefs and habits without actually having to travel. Then take it a step further and have an evening themed entirely around the language you are learning and demand that guests at least speak in the accent of the language if they cannot throw in a few words themselves. For example, if you chose Italian, simply saying pasta in an Italian accent a few times will suffice to get everyone in the spirit!
4. Cook or make something you’ve never, ever made before. Be ambitious and create an entire menu from a foreign land. It doesn’t have to to be elaborate …. just new, different, mind-expanding. One of my favourite exotic meals to make is Moroccan Tagine, I usually make one with a base of tomato, eggs and spinach. Its super easy and really, really fun! You basically can throw anything you can think of together with lost of interesting spices and see what happens. The result is always delicious, nutritious and perfect to share with friends. If you eat it in the traditional style, make some authentic Moroccan bread or couscous and eat out of the tagine pot, in communal fashion! So fun and most importantly, yummy!
5. Meet new people. One of the greatest thrills of travelling is meeting new people, and when you travel, you are normally much more open to new people and new experiences. Somehow after a while of living in the one place, we become comfortable within the circles of friends we have created and forget to be open to allowing new people into those circles. Soooooooo make an effort! Say hello to someone you’ve never spoken to before, a friend of a friend, a stranger in the street, someone at a party… You’ll be surprised what interesting and amazing people you’ll meet, and who knows something might even blossom into a romance!
6. Start planning your next dream adventure into the vast of an exotic country you’ve never been to before. Nothing will get you excited and tripping over your little feet as making grandiose plans for a dream trip. Even if the aforementioned trip is a whole year away, there’s plenty to learn, research, daydream and find out about in the meantime. Unfortunately I myself cannot take this piece of advise as I very rarely if ever do much research on the place that I am heading. I prefer to, how do you say ……. wing it!
7. Fall in love. This in itself is clearly self explanatory! When you fall in love the whole world becomes a wonderful kaleidoscope of colours and sensations and travelling will be far away from your mind …. unless of course your new lover is planning an extended trip to a foreign land which may provide you with the flutters to do the same. Do however try in this moment to resist the impulse because nothing dampens a new love as someone who wants to chase them on their own adventures. At this point you have to have a clear vision of what you actually want in your own life. I digress…..we are coming off the topic a little here!
8. Take yourself on a tour of your own city, and explore all the places you’ve never been to before. Take photos to share with your friends and remember to write down all the cute cafes and cool bars you discover along the way. Spending time alone can be wonderfully fulfilling and gives you the chance to do exactly what YOU want, no compromising, no haggling!
9. Spend a day with children and see the world through their eyes. Children are just discovering the world that we live in so every single day they learn something new and amazing. This world is pretty damn spectacular no matter where you are, so slowing down and taking it all in from a naive and innocent point of view is exhilaratingly refreshing. Sometimes we forget to take in our surroundings appreciate just how beautiful and amazing the place we live in really is. This is why it can be so fun to show friends around your special haunts and share in their wonder as they experience your world through new eyes.
10. Take a course or do a workshop. Learning is not only fun, but one of the exciting parts of travelling is all the new sensations and knowledge you gain through the experience. Taking a course activates the same brain cells and can be very satisfying without the cost of flights and hotels and with all the comforts of familiarity. A weekend photography course can be excellent as you go outside to places you haven’t been before, meet new people and get to indulge in a creative pursuit. Also wine or cheese tasting in the local country side will certainly life your spirits and shake those twinkling travel bugs off for a while! Or learn to surf!