How A Traveler's Mindset Makes You View Your Hometown In New Ways, According To Rick Steves

Whether it's riding the rails on one of the most popular U.K. train routes or hitting up hidden Italian beaches for a dose of R&R, the idea of "travel" is typically associated with grand adventures, far-off destinations, and cultural immersions. However, there's no need to venture off into faraway places for a taste of adventure. In fact, you can easily find new ways to explore and experience something new just around the corner from where you live — you just need a slight shift in perspective.

If you've never tried being a tourist in your own city, Rick Steves — travel writer and TV host — says there's actually an easy way to still feel like you're exploring somewhere new, without having to go too far from home. The trick, he told Boston Public Radio, is to get out there and interact with other locals — and that's what the "traveler's mindset" is all about.

From chatting with your neighbors to striking up a conversation with the corner shop owner or the street performer, it's these simple moments and interactions that can take you away from the "I know this place" mindset and infuse every outing with a little something special that wasn't there before.

Adopting the traveler's mindset

According to Steves, the most important thing to do when adopting a traveler's mindset is to get curious and learn more about what's already around you. And what does that entail? In short, it's about embracing a sense of wonder about your own home in the same way a tourist would when visiting, or in the same way you'd do when traveling somewhere new.

This means staying open to trying new things, chatting with strangers for a taste of something different, and saying "yes" to all of the unexpected opportunities that these new decisions and choices might bring. After all, it's precisely when you're able to step outside of your comfort zone — your house, your neighborhood, your usual restaurants, your friend groups — that new things start to happen...even in the most expected places. And, let's be honest, what better way is there to do that than by interacting with people who live a different life than you, even when you're both technically living in the same place?

In the long run, the best thing about embracing a traveler's mentality no matter where you are is that, once you start valuing these varied perspectives, you ultimately discover new aspects of your community and see your everyday environment through a fresh lens — transforming "the usual" into something new.

Looking for beauty in the ordinary

In addition to having meaningful interactions with new people, having a traveler's mindset also has to do with focusing on the details. This means that, while your day-to-day life might typically feel rushed and mundane, stepping into a traveler's mindset means that you're encouraged to pay attention to all of the smaller things and nuances that you might have previously (and regularly) ignored. From your waiter's accent at a café to the colors of the street art and the sound your neighbor's gate makes as it swings open, noticing these subtleties means that you can reframe every ordinary moment as something brand new and extraordinary. And that's what travel is all about: extraordinary experiences.

Because no matter if you're just halfway down the block, it's by appreciating these little things — these oftentimes overlooked details — that you can find beauty in what you consider "normal" — or, better yet, what you once thought of as familiar.