The idea of moving to a new city strikes fear into the hearts of even the most experienced relocators. Going through all of your things and determining which can be thrown in the trash (those receipts that you’ve been holding on to irrationally), which can be donated (that pair of sneakers that you only wore once), and which will be packed into carefully labeled boxes is the first phase of the process.
It’s equivalent to the swimming leg of a triathlon. You’re just getting started, so the excitement is still fresh and new, until you have a mile or so left to go. Then your legs start to get a bit wobbly as you imagine the intense cycling portion of the event and the marathon that you have yet to run.
All of those boxes have to go somewhere after all, don’t they? And you’re going to have to be the one to lift them.
On top of the logistical challenges that a major move entails, there are also some emotional roadblocks. Will this new city throw you entirely out of your comfort zone? Will it be as breathtaking and growth-inducing as the one that you’re planning on leaving?
You’re starting to get nostalgic just thinking about it.
Now imagine moving to a new city every month.
Whether you find that exciting or a bit intimidating, it’s exactly what you’ll do as a member of a Remote Year work and travel program - but with much less baggage. Each month, you’ll get a chance to live in a different city alongside an inspiring community of professionals. Having a consistent sense of friendship and stability can make the transition a lot easier to handle, but it can still take some time before you feel truly “at home” while on the road.
After talking with the hundreds of people that have traveled with Remote Year programs over the years, we’ve compiled a few tips that may help speed up the process of feeling at home when traveling:
How to Feel at Home When Traveling
One of the questions that you may be asking yourself is, “How will I feel at home in my apartment in Prague/Cape Town/Hanoi/Mexico City?”
There is an important distinction to be made between wanting to feel comfortable in every moment and giving yourself space to feel secure and at ease. When you’re out in the city, exploring new cultures, and making incredible memories, you are outside of your comfort zone. You’re doing things you didn’t do in the past, taking risks, and living in the moment. After a long day of adventure, it’s nice to come back to a safe, comfortable environment. Your ‘home’ is a place of calm, a place where you can relax tonight so that you can get back out there and live your best life tomorrow.
Though every person has a different definition of “home” based on where they grew up and how they’re used to living in their “normal” life, there are a few simple things that anyone can do to make their apartment feel more like home while traveling.
Buy a local candle, incense, or essential oil that has a familiar scent
Once you arrive in your new city, find out where the nearest fragrance shop is. If you have a favorite scent that reminds you of home or soothes you, seek it out and give it a special place within your apartment. Scent has a way of bringing you back to a specific time or memory and can have a major effect on your mood. When you’re feeling a bit disconnected or lost in the wide world that you now live in, light that candle or dab a bit of that essential oil onto your wrists and let the calming benefits of familiarity take over.
Pack photos of friends/family
Before heading out on the road, print a few of your favorite photos of the people (or pets!) that mean the most to you. Prints don’t take up a ton of room or space in your suitcase and they can be used as decorative reminders of your loved ones in your new space. Place them in your living area as a conversation starter for any newfound friends that might visit you. No matter where you fly to next, these photos can travel with you and keep you grounded.
Cook a favorite meaningful meal
Similar to scent, food has a way of transporting us to another time or place, in this case back to the comfort and security that you felt in your hometown. To make your apartment in any city feel more like home, christen it by making a favorite meal. Perhaps you make your grandmother’s famous red sauce and pasta, or you invite a few other Remotes over to make your family’s traditional tamales - whatever food holds the most comfort for you is the one that you should choose. Use the meal as a platform to make new memories and you’ll find that you will immediately feel a deeper connection with your new living space.
Bring your own creature comforts
There’s just something about feeling cozy. That’s the reason why the hygge trend is so popular in interior design! As you travel around the world, you’ll see that every city has a different sense of style, so you may want to bring a couple of things to inject your own personality and idea of of “comfort” into your space. Consider bringing a large, soft scarf that could double as a blanket for when you’re enjoying a night in on the couch. Some people have even brought their own pillowcases with them when they travel so that they can lay their heads on a familiar surface when it’s time to sleep.
Crank up the tunes
Silence can be deafening - especially when you’re staying in a place that just doesn’t feel like it’s yours yet. It’s easy to get distracted by the random sounds that you’re not used to: the sound of the fridge kicking in, the noise of someone walking around in the apartment above yours, or even the sound of traffic outside. To drown out those sounds, and to make yourself feel more at home, turn to your trusty portable speaker (you brought one right?) and let your favorite album play in the background as you go about your day. Just hearing those familiar sounds echo through the rooms of your new place will make it feel more like home.
Buy some fresh plants at the local market
What’s better for morale than being surrounded by living things? Flowers, succulents, and other plants have been proven to make you feel better, so it’s a good idea to keep them handy when you’re consistently living outside of your comfort zone. Spend a morning wandering through a local farmer’s market and picking out the plants that bring you joy. Once you’re back at your apartment, put them in a central location where you’ll see them everyday. Adding that personal touch to your pad will help you truly settle in.
Leave room in your suitcase for “house clothes”
When you’re packing for Remote Year, you’re thinking about the different pieces that you’ll need for all of the activities that you’ll participate in. You’re trying to remember your athletic clothes for all of those hikes, a dress or two for nights out, warm weather clothing, and layers for cooler nights. One thing you might’ve forgotten: house clothes. No matter what you’re up to during the day, you’ll come home at the end of it and want to feel more comfortable. Remember soft leggings or pants and a comfy top or two - maybe even slippers! Whatever it takes to make yourself feel chilled out at the end of the day, you’ll want to pack it.
Develop a morning or nighttime routine
When it comes to taking the leap into work and travel, there is a lot of talk about breaking out of your comfort zone and leaving behind your routine. Quitting routine cold-turkey can be a little terrifying so we’ll let you off the hook here: develop a morning or nighttime routine in order to make yourself feel more at home. Whether you’re known to keep a journal on your nightstand so that you can reflect on the day’s lessons, or if you’re more committed to your coffee maker in the morning, let yourself develop a habit that either starts or ends your day in a way that makes you feel connected to your current environment.
Stay connected with friends and family back home
Finally, sometimes there’s no place like your actual home. Set aside time to connect with your friends and family, even if they’re on the other side of the world. Make sure that you have Skype or Zoom ready for personal face-to-face chats and teach your parents how to use WhatsApp before you leave so that you can send them quick updates on your adventures during the day. They’ll love to see photos and hear the stories behind them, and you’ll find comfort in listening to them talk about the latest happenings back home.