WANDERLUST : A strong desire or urge to travel and explore the world.

After my trip to Egypt a few years ago, I developed a strong desire to see more of the world and experience different cultures.  I’d been bitten by the travel bug, however, my schedule and task list as a designer and mom of 5 didn’t quite allow for as much travel and exploration as I would like.  So, I did the next best thing … planned a “staycation” in a nearby city, my childhood hometown of New York.

Growing up, I knew there was something special about being raised in “the city that never sleeps.”  But it wasn’t until I moved out of the city that I realized just how special an upbringing I’d had.  I learned so much about my hometown by going back and seeing the town from a tourist’s perspective.  Seeing your city from a tourist’s perspective is a really fun way to spend the weekend and a great way to gain a better appreciation for your hometown (no matter how long you’ve lived there).

Book a Room

Plan a staycation at an intimate boutique hotel or local renowned hotel to set you on the path to vacation mode.  The high thread count sheets, the luxurious comforters, and the mountain of soft pillows make sleeping in a hotel bed feel like a dream.  Waking up in a 5-star hotel is a great way to set the mood for exploring.

Take a Tour or Check out an Exhibit

Walking through the city discovering hidden gems and the history why areas of the city were founded was truly an eye opening experience.  There are so many iconic destinations in New York. With each trip back, I find myself amazed at the history I learn about the importance of the very streets I walk and the places I visit.  I was thrilled to check out the larger than life sculptural work of acclaimed artist Simone Yvette Leigh right in the heart of New York City. Leigh’s work focuses on African art and ethnography.  She incorporates materials and forms associated with art from Africa and the African diaspora.

This massive piece entitled “Brick House” is a wonderful representation of her incredible craftsmanship.

Attend a Festival

From culture and art to music and food, New York is home to a variety of local festivals that entertain, celebrate and guarantee a great time in a relaxed setting.  On one of my strolls through the city, I stumbled across an amazing festival in Little Italy.  The festival was a cool, unexpected way to experience unique performances, patronize local artisans and gain insight into the neighborhood’s heritage, history, and culture.

Get Out of the Car

Many of us move from place to place via some sort of vehicle. When was the last time you went for a stroll? Enjoy the weather and embark on foot through an area of the city you haven’t visited before. Explore the town on foot or by bike for a more authentic experience. You may be surprised by what you find!

Check out a Vintage Store or Antique Shop

A great way to make a special memory is by taking something old and giving it new life.  On my “Tourist at Home” trip, I ventured over to the Housing Works Thrift Shop to pour over their racks of vintage wares and found some great pieces.

Although most of the pieces I found will be repurposed, when worn, they will serve as a beautiful reminder of my special trip.

One Last thing: Don’t forget to Register for Online for Deals!

Sign up for local deal alerts with sites like Groupon to catch “tourist friendly” happenings and deals.  You can find deals on everything thing from tours and hotels to restaurants and excursions.

Next time you get the urge to explore, give staying close to home a try. As you play tourist in your own city or nearby, try to visit places that you might have always wanted to see but hadn’t gotten around to checking out.  You might be surprised by what you find.