How To Be Well-Travelled Without Leaving Home

Photo by Firma

This post is brought to you by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Vina Barham.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, travel was a big part of my life. Growing up in the Philippines, we traveled often to nearby provinces but never far enough. I got my first whiff of intercontinental travel when we moved to the U.S. I was 16. It was exhilarating. Everything was new.  Every bite of American food was delicious, even when it just was frozen waffles (I know, crazy huh?)  It was like being born all over again. The sight, the smell, the taste, the touch of everything around me were worth noticing and fully experiencing.

Of course after several years, the novelty eventually wore off. Right before I graduated from college, I went to China for a summer mission trip and it rocked my world. I decided to move there after college for a few years. Having to figure out my identity and purpose in the midst of interacting with another culture profoundly changed me. When I finally moved back to the U.S. I took a job overseeing a short-term mission program for an international agency. My husband and I also traveled to Asia and Europe together our first two years of marriage.  Then we became parents. And you know how THAT goes. The farthest we’ve travelled since then was to Chicago. And so we had to figure out ways how to cultivate our love for travel and all that it offers, without leaving home. For now.

The Awesomeness That Is Travel

Sometimes I feel like I was born to travel. I don’t mind airports and time changes. Feeling out of place is pretty normal for me. I can make do with minimal personal hygiene and I will try about almost anything as long as it doesn’t kill me. I can deal with getting lost in a city if I have a map and a language dictionary. As much as it is the thrill of being in a new place, travel has brought a lot of unexpected richness in my life.

  • Travel has widened my sensory experience. Often when we go outside the confines of our everyday, we are given an opportunity to a new way of seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting. Jawaharial Nehru, first prime minister of India was quoted saying,“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Of course we don’t have to travel far and wide, as I am going to talk about more in the next section, but travel has a magical way of ushering us into a new adventure.
  • Travel  has stretched my ability to live simply. Going beyond the borders of what was comfortable for me forced me adapt to the unknown and the unpredictable. I learned that I didn’t need much in this life, and that richness is found in the essentials and not luxury. Cesare Pavese said once, “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” Exactly.
  • Travel has broadened my understanding of the world. Traveling grounds me in the realities of the bigger world we live in. It broadens my heart and soul to what I welcome as good and it puts me in touch with pain and suffering that I am often shielded from. It helps me see my prejudices and bigotry that I don’t realize I have. It also gives me a more holistic perspective of the culture I grew up in (Philippines) and the culture I am immersed in now (U.S.). My context for living has changed. Samuel Johnson puts it well, “Traveling helps regulate our imaginations by reality, instead of thinking how things may be, we see them as they are.”
  • Travel has deepened parts of me I wouldn’t have otherwise tapped into. There’s something about travel that unmasks and unravels our inner being. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that our life here on earth IS a journey and that we are travelling towards a destination, which I fondly call My True Home. Perhaps deep within we are all nomads and sojourners who have lost touch of what travel does to us because these days, we want nothing more than to stay put, be stable and lock in on the promise of security for ourselves and our families. But travel pulls away that veil and reminds us that THIS isn’t it. There are better things ahead. We don’t fully know or comprehend what is over there, but we hope. And I quote Martin Buber,  “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
9 Simple Tips On How To Live a Well-Travelled Life Without Leaving Home
While I do want to encourage everyone to consider making space for travel in their life, I understand why some will never venture out to another country. If that is you, please don’t take this as a form of judgement, or another reason to feel guilty over something you should add to your list of things to be and do. I’m merely here to share my passion for a lifestyle that is worth pursuing.  And I want to underscore today that travel IS a lifestyle, not necessarily logging in some thousand miles on your passport. I believe that we can live mindfully, as sojourners and travellers, without having to leave home. And here are some ideas:
  1. Cook A Meal. Rudyard Kipling once said, “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” And it is so true. The aroma of what’s cooking in the kitchen is very distinct to each culture and much can be learned and appreciated from the uniqueness of their food. The spices and kinds of vegetation each country grows tells the story of the people. I recommend borrowing cookbooks from your local library that also provides a rich history of food, and those written by people who have lived in the country first hand. Give your family the gift of savoring another culture right from your kitchen.
  2. Shop World-Class. This is not a popular thing to say these days but I think shopping local is overrated. There are definitely things I would buy local, but I also am an advocate of being a thoughtful global consumer, especially if they are made by local artisans who put a distinct stamp of their culture on the products they create. Here are some places I recommend buying from: Ten Thousand Village, etc.
  3. Learn another language. If you are a mom of a small child, why not learn another language with them? You don’t have to master it. But perhaps learn some conversational sentences along with your child. Or learn a popular song sung in a different language. Speaking of music…
  4. Listen to music from another culture. Again, your local library is your friend. I often borrow children CD’s from Africa and South America and listen to them with my little one. We also listen to Filipino music and hope to try many others as well. Although we don’t understand the song, the different rhythms and beats give us a different experience from what we are used to.
  5. Go to museums or event. Often, your local museum will showcase art from another culture. Take advantage of these. Take your kiddos and take advantage of the opportunity to see a little bit differently. Artists are often the prophetic voice of a culture. They often highlight what you don’t read on newspapers and such.
  6. Watch international movies. Many movies made in the U.S. today are increasingly more global but also try to find some movies originating from outside the U.S. They may be dubbed in English or they may have sub-titles, which I think makes for a better sensory experience.
  7. Read stories. Sure, we can read bout missionary biogrpahies. But how about strories told by the “normal” people? Most of us are not going to be “missionaries” in the technical sense of the term, but “normal” everyday people who live out our lives in simple ways It may help us walk in someone else’s different yet familiar shoes.
  8. Read the international section of the newspaper. If you don’t already, head over to The Economist or Reuters or the International Section of the New York Times. Or better yet, scout online for local news originating from the country you are interested in learning more about. 
  9. Open your home. I am very thankful that we live in a very ethnically diverse city. Our husband and I have hosted a student from Asia and plan on continuing opening our home in that way. We are actually in the process of figuring out whether we want to be foster parents to refugee children who are waiting to be resettle in Seattle.

What do you think? Are you a travel-enthusiast or is travel something you’ve never even considered, ever? Do these ideas resonate with you? Do you have more to add to the list? Share your story and thoughts!

About Vina

Vina spends much of her ordinary days getting to know her winsome daughter and seeing the world through her eyes. She loves learning about everyday simplicity and authenticity, which she shares in her blog, A Nourishing Home.

24 Responses to How To Be Well-Travelled Without Leaving Home

  1. Dominic Fuerstenberge February 18, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    It is not a secret that a lot of people visit the United States often just to be able to have a vacation. However, not a lot of people are aware of the different and top travel destinations that they should not miss once they finally decide to visit the US. Because of this, the different destinations that people should visit will be discussed in this article to give people a better idea about them.’

    See the best and newest posting on our very own blog site

  2. Janelle October 28, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    I skimmed the comments, so I hope I am not repeating something someone else already said, but I wanted to add Google Earth to your list of ways to travel without leaving home. I have found it a useful tool in the classroom, and a really neat way to see the world from your computer screen.

  3. WP Themes July 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    Nice brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you seeking your information.

  4. Amanda Scoggins June 22, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    Love the Post! My husband and I have traveled to about 18 different countries and lived in the Middle East. We are now trying to FINALLY start a family and I wonder what will happen to our traveling ways (we really hope to raise somewhat third culture kids, hopefully God will find ways for us to travel as a fam) Anyway, a site that I love, similar to ten thousand villages, but lots of clothes and practical stuff is Fair Indigo. Some clothes are pricey, but if you become a facebook fan or sign up for emails they notify you of some really great deals!

  5. Amy June 22, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    I loved the post! I am always searching for travel opportunities that are financially feasible. I’d like to point out though, that you don’t have to travel overseas to see a vastly different lifestyle. When we visited the Hopi Tribal Community in Northern Arizona, we felt like we were in a different world. It was wonderful!

  6. Lindsey @ The Herbangardener June 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Oh, and one idea to add to the list would be to take a field trip to your local ethnic grocery store. You feel like you’re really somewhere else when you’re in an ethnic market! It’s great fun.

    Where we live, our favorites are the Asian grocery store (we get our fish eggs, pickled herring, natto, and raw sashimi tuna there), and the Greek/Russian grocery store where we get inexpensive kalamata olives and smetana (ultra-rich & delicious Russian sour cream).

  7. Lindsey @ The Herbangardener June 18, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Vina, I just love your posts! What great ideas you outlined!
    This makes me long to be back on the road. I traveled solo at age 18 to New Zealand and Australia for several months. It was the most amazing, confidence-boosting experience and it most certainly helped shape me into who I am today. I love travel, but I also hate some aspects of it — the un-rootedness of it, the homesickness, the stress of plane, train, and bus schedules, arriving somewhere in the middle of the night with no place to stay, making sure you and your belongings are safe, etc. etc. It’s exhilarating and exhausting.
    Next time, I would travel more slowly, visiting fewer places and staying longer at each. I loved solo travel; it’s liberating, but also can be isolating. Actually seeing the places you’ve always dreamt of going, however, is worth the hassle and stress!

    Now I can’t wait to do more traveling, this time with my hubby (I’m pretty much over the “solo” thing!). Like a couple of the other readers, I also cringe a little when I read about people suppressing their travel lifestyle once children come along. I met an amazing couple while I was staying at a hostel in New Zealand. Originally from Tennessee, they were doctors traveling the world with their 6-year-old twin daughters, and they’d just lived for 6 months on Tokelau, a remote tropical island reachable only by a once-weekly freighter! They were homeschooling their girls as they traveled (not to mention the incredible education the girls got just by traveling!).

    When hubby and I have children someday, they will definitely be traveling right along with us!

  8. Megan June 17, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    I love the ideas of this post, however I get a bit discouraged when people talk about how their traveling lives come to a halt after kids. It doesn’t have too. about 9 months ago my husband and I with our 13 month old son moved to Kathmandu, Nepal. I was pregnant at the time and had our second son here in Nepal. Two weeks later we traveled to Thailand and have just recently come back from traveling across the Nepal countryside. Yeah, it’s difficult at times and can be expensive, but there are ways around all that. using guide books and asking around a lot before settling on where you plan on staying can find you some great deals. I guess I just want to encourage everyone that IT CAN BE DONE! you don’t have to stop traveling, you just have to plan (and pack) more when you go with kids. And even if they are little (ours are 2 and 5 months) you can show them pictures when they are older of when they got to hike through the foothills of the himalayas!

    • Amanda Scoggins June 22, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

      Thanks for that encouragement!

  9. Deb June 17, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    I love to travel. I am a people watcher and enjoy observing others especially in airports. I love the quote by St. Augustine.

  10. Katie June 17, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    I love following your blog, it is so helpful. I am encouraged by your life and the gifts God has given you and that you are able to put in in writing to help newly married/someday-to-be mom’s! I love all your insight and ideas! Thanks for sharing and writing! Praying for you and your husband as you consider fostering refugee children!

  11. dustin June 17, 2010 at 10:43 am #

    Okay, I just have to say that I love Vina. She is my favorite contributor! Keep up the super posts, Vina :)

  12. Amy Walker June 17, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    Great Post! So true!!!

  13. Kimberly June 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    I really enjoyed this article. I love to travel, but I agree with 2 little ones now, it’s very challenging and financially not as feasible as it used to be. But I like your ideas on trying to be able to bring different cultures into the home without leaving home! We are trying to expose our children to different things…even if it’s just shopping at the farmers market instead of the grocery store…it’s exposing them to another type of “way of doing things” for lack of a better term. I liked your ideas.

    • Vina June 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm #


      I totally agree – exposing ourselves and our children to a “new way of doing things” is one of those mindsets that I’m thinking about. I’m glad you liked the ideas and hope they can be helpful!

  14. Jennifer C. June 16, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    These are very excellent ideas! I like the one about learning a language- something that can be a fun family homeschool activity! Wonderful article! Thanks!

  15. Robin June 16, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    Great article. I am actually not much a traveler (airports are not my favorite), but I completely agree with the things traveling offers… it allows us to see the world with new eyes and connect to that which we all share while at the same time honoring what is different. I love your tips for “stay at home” travel. I will definitely have to try them!

    • Vina June 16, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

      I love how you put it Robin: connect to what we all share at the same time honoring what is different. :)

  16. Shawn June 16, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Great article. There’s a lot to think about.

  17. lacey June 16, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    I didn’t care for the part of the post where she said they became parents and “you know how that goes”. Being a parent far out weighs any global travel we could ever do, and when we look at parenting as something that prevents us from doing what we want, then we lose the sight of what being a parent is really about. I know she probably delights in her family and child as much as any of us, but we need to be careful how we say things, the world is looking to us to show them how wonderful the sanctity of family and human life is.

    I also was concerned with her comment about not shopping locally. I know she didn’t mean in the food aspect, but in other aspects not shopping locally can hinder our economy as people lose their jobs due to families not shopping locally. I understand most of the products we buy are unfortunately manufactured elsewhere, but selling those products locally supports local jobs. Its fun to own things from other countries, but our concern as stewards should be about supporting local families trying to provide for their own families.

    I thought the contributor made valid points otherwise and had good ideas to share, its just a few of her statement in particular came across the wrong way to me.

    Thank you!


  18. Shannon Hazleton June 16, 2010 at 6:35 am #

    My husband and I lived in Southeast Asia before we got married, and then traveled through dozens of countries the first few years of our marriage. So when we started having children 4 years ago, our way of life came to a serious halt! ;) But I think these are great ideas. Traveling gets us outside of ourselves and our ruts and patterns and pre-conceived notions, and it’s good to be reminded that we can continue those ways of learning without having to buy a plane ticket.

    • Vina June 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

      Hi Shannon! I grew up in SE Asia but haven’t travelled the region yet! I am jealous! :) Do you miss living overseas or ever get the “itchy feet” feeling?

  19. heckety June 16, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    Yes and yes to all these points! I grew up travelling, and continued travelling overseas until finances brought us to a halt! Now we travel our own country and pretend we are tourists and try everything as though its new! We’ve had some amazing holidays the last ten years with children in tents! In fact the children never prevented us travelling locally wherever we lived- at 3 months our eldest was camping, and has never stopped!!

    • Vina June 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

      Love the idea of pretending you are tourists! :) We like to do that when visiting more
      “touristy” cities or even in our own city. That’s awesome that you took your 3 month old camping – I am not that brave!