Thursday 14 Jan, 2016

Making 2016 a Year of Local Wanderlust

Mairead is a Copywriter at EF Educational Tours in Boston. Her favorite cities include London, Galway and Grenada. She thinks travel is the best way to learn open-mindedness and the importance of a good pair of shoes.

If you had told me as I graduated college in 2014 that I’d spend the following year kick-starting my career as a writer, I would’ve thought you were joking. The months leading up to the late spring day that I accepted my diploma were spent hunkered down in a college library with endless cups of stale coffee, applying to countless writing jobs with little hope and even less luck.

I spent my first six months as a post-graduate working a day-job in retail and freelance writing at night. It was both exciting and terrifying to watch my literary skills hone themselves partly for my love of words—but mostly to pay rent. As the holidays rolled around and 2014 drew to a close, I happily kicked job instability to the curb and joined EF as a full-time copywriter. It was the best Christmas gift I could have asked for. My parents were pretty psyched, too.mairead blog postI experienced an incredible transition into what just might be adulthood since starting at EF in early 2015. In 12 months I broke into the copywriting field, got to know an incredible team, and even traveled to Portugal, Spain, Morocco and London. I also moved into a new apartment, bought a moped and adopted one seriously adorable cat. Looking back now, it’s clear that post-grad life had some luck in store for me after all.

As the once far-off goals for life after college move deeper into the past, what fresh hopes can I plan for the New Year? When thinking of travel, I’ve decided to trade the international experiences of last year for an everyday sort of wanderlust in 2016. This is partially because I don’t have much travel planned. And it’s partially because I’m still figuring out the true meaning of maturity—which I think means paying off college loans.

With that in mind, here are my 2016 travel goals. They’re a little bit unconventional, a little bit thrifty and certain to make for a remarkable year.

Goal #1: Be an at-home tourist
Anyone who’s lived in Boston long enough knows which subway lines take them to Fenway Park, where the Freedom Trail starts and that when it comes down to it, Mike’s and Modern Pastry both have a pretty great cannoli. I’ve lived here long enough to know all this and more, but I could still do more exploring. By being an at-home tourist, I hope to add even more hidden gems to my list of favorites around town while developing an appreciation for the Boston sites I take for granted.

Goal #2: See more of America
I’ve done a good amount of traveling since getting my first passport at the age of ten. I’ve explored many countries in Europe, traveled to Africa and even lived abroad for a year. But when it comes to my own 50 states, I haven’t seen much past the Mason-Dixon Line—and it’s something I’d like to change.

As a lover off all things weird and wacky, my bucket list of American attractions to experience include Area 51 in Nevada, the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in rural Kansas and the Waffle House Museum in small-town Georgia. Who wouldn’t want to visit a site devoted to a franchise whose slogan was once, “Chocolate Pie: it’s not just for breakfast anymore?”

Goal #3: Practice unconventional travel
I’ve found a way to explore countless exotic destinations in 2016—all without leaving the couch. Foreign films, music and books all offer opportunities to view the world from a new perspective, with each medium putting its own unique twist on what we see. From the Italian sites of Roman Holiday, to melancholy Portuguese fado music and author Haruki Murakami’s surreal look into modern Japanese life, practicing travel through music, literature and film is a fun way to learn more about the world.

Goal #4: Get lost
Despite the incredible travel opportunities I experienced in 2015, much of my time at home was spent in routine. Though finding structure and familiarity in a new job is a success in its own right, the weekly repetition of meetings, deadlines and the same daily commute has me yearning for the tiniest bit of transience. Maybe I’ll get lost in the suburbs. Maybe I’ll take a day trip to meander around Cape Cod. Wherever I go, there’ll be no GPS, no Google maps and certainly no Uber driver waiting for me. Because my biggest travel goal of 2016 is to do more wandering—and challenge myself to embrace the unknown.