Next week, I am heading back to DC for the second time since I moved away. Though it is not where I was born, it is the city where I have spent the majority of my adult life and I consider it a home in many ways.
For me, it is often easier to travel to new places where I don't know anyone than head to a town where I have favorite restaurants, favorite people, and favorite activities, all vying for my time. Add to that the fact that I now have an office near the city, and many clients that I should meet with, and a trip home can easily turn into a stressful mess. Even as an experienced traveler, traveling home presents a unique set of challenges that I am still figuring out how to handle.
When I go home, whether it is DC or Ohio, I always find myself pulled in lots of different directions. There are the things that I have to do, and the things that I want to do, and they are often not the same. Traveling home, for me, is all a question of balancing those needs and wants.
Whether I am going home for a weekend or a few weeks, I feel like there is never enough time to
do everything I would like. So, even though I can’t do everything, I still make sure to carve out
enough time to do SOMETHING from each of the major buckets – taking care of life responsibilities, seeing my favorite people, and eating my favorite food. Though I am by no means an expert in time management, this system has helped me feel less stressed about visiting home, while still not feeling like I missed anything major.
Take care of life responsibilities
Maybe you are like me, and you still have your doctor in your hometown, a meeting you have to go to, or another life task that you really have to get done while you are home. Maybe you are going home for a specific event like a wedding or a party. When possible, schedule these events that you HAVE to do far in advance, so you know when you are free, and can plan all of the other activities around these events.
This time, I am heading back to DC to attend the McCabe World Travel holiday party. Since this party is the reason I am going to be in town, I am obviously going to schedule all of my other events around it. But if I needed to visit the doctor, or meet with a client, or do anything else that NEEDED to be done while in town, I would follow the same protocol. I sort out all of these mandatory activities, often even before telling people that I am coming home. That way, when I tell them I will be in town, I can also suggest a few times that we can hang out when I know I will be free!
See your favorite people
The next most important thing for me when I am in town is seeing all of my favorite people. In Ohio that means seeing my family and high school friends, in DC that means catching up with all of my grad school friends, and other friends who are still in town.
If there are too many people to see everyone individually? Set up an event where you can see lots of people at once like a happy hour or a group dinner, and save the one-on-one time for people that you really need to catch up with, or for the next trip that has more time.
A great thing about traveling to a town where you know a lot of people is that there is often a guest room or a couch you can crash on! While traveling with the dogs makes this a TEENSY bit more difficult as not everyone wants 200 pounds of fluff messing up their apartment, I am fortunate enough to have a few friends still in the city who view monsters descending on their home as a good thing. In addition to a free place to stay, this also has the added benefit of giving me more time with people I don't get to see nearly as much as I would like!
Eat one of your favorite meals
For me, there is nothing that screams home more than the food that I used to enjoy there, so when I am heading to town, even if just for a weekend, l always make sure to save some time to eat one of my favorite meals. Usually that means heading to Supra, a delicious Georgian restaurant that we used to live down the street from, but sometimes I am craving something different and I hit up up Pho 14 or Wise Guys Pizza. When I go to Ohio, I look forward to my mom's salmon, and when I go to DC, I look forward to a cheesy ajaruli. For some people, home is more about the activities that you used to do there, so make sure you make time to go on your favorite hike, hit up your favorite bowling alley, or swing on the monkey bars at your neighborhood playground.
This time around, I will be getting my holiday spirit on at the work party, visiting the office and a couple important clients, crashing with my lovely friends, attending a couple happy hours, and eating that delicious ajaruli.
What does traveling home look like for you?