When I was younger, before I developed symptoms of a mental illness, I loved to travel. I lived in Egypt for two years, and visited several times after that. I went with my family on a tour of Europe in a van. I visited Israel, Greece, and Cyprus, and I went of a boat cruise down the Amazon River. I have been to Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Columbia. Even after I got married to my current husband, we continued to travel. We went to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and our favorite city is Paris. When we reached the age of forty, we had a midlife crisis and sold everything, lived in a van for six months, and toured the United States.
Now that my illness has progressed, I don’t feel as comfortable traveling long distances. I don’t want to be far from a pharmacy that has my records and can fill my medications. I always worry that something will happen to my medication (lost or stolen) when we travel and that I will be without. I have a terrible fear of being without my medication. It is a life line to sanity for me, and I don’t mess around with that fact. I’m not the kind of person who accidently misses a dose, or takes my meds only when I feel the need for it. I take my meds twice a day, with food, exactly how they are prescribed.
I miss traveling though, and my husband misses it even more than I do so, in order to compensate for fewer trips, we have found ways to travel long distances in our own city. One thing we do is buy annual passes to museums. Museums can transport you to Paris, to Cairo, or to ancient Rome. When there is a new exhibit at one of our favorite museums, we make a day of it. We usually walk to the museums because several of them are within a mile of our house, and that reminds us of visiting other cities where we walk most of the day, or use public transportation. After visiting one or two museums, we eat in a restaurant nearby. We try to eat in a restaurant with an outdoor patio (the weather is usually nice where we live), and afterwards we go to a café for a cappuccino, because that is something we always do when we visit Europe.
There is something else we do to transport ourselves to another place. We go to ethnic grocery stores and shops. We are fortunate enough to live in a city with a fairly diverse population. We can find Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Middle Eastern grocery stores within a ten mile radius of our house. Last week, while waiting for our car to be fixed, we stumbled upon an Asian shopping mall. It was fantastic. There was a huge Korean grocery store with very inexpensive produce, all kinds of candy and chips we had never seen before, and things like dried fish, the largest selection of kimchi we had ever seen, and to us, other exotic and wonderful finds. The mall also had a food court with one of my husband’s favorite meals, Pho, and for me, there was an incredible French bakery with a Vietnamese twist. We knew we would visit again.
Other things that can make you feel like you have traveled to a distant land, is taking an architectural tour of your city. Most cities have at least a few buildings that were designed by innovative architects. In our city, we have a library, a court house, many personal residences, and some churches that are definitely worth seeing. We love to read about the history of a building and then go and visit it.
Of course seeing a play, a poetry reading, a concert, or a movie can transport you for a few hours to another time and another place.
If you don’t have many opportunities in your own town, or city, consider taking a short road trip to a nearby town or city and exploring their local treasures. You don’t have to get on a plane to experience other cultures these days. Often times there are treasures worth exploring in your own back yard. Plan an adventure, and book that trip!