Ever have that time when you are stuck in an area that you really don’t like? When you feel out of place or don’t mesh with the locals? Or the surroundings or the weather disagree with your personal preferences? How do you get out of it? What do you do? Last year, I encountered this situation myself for the first time as a solo traveler. Switching up a few things helped me survive a few months in a beautiful but lonely place.
As a snow lover, I anxiously anticipated my seasonal job in a ski resort. It was a place I had clamored to go. The resort was even located near an area I had dreams of settling down once I stop this life of travel. Well, things are not always as you think. There wasn’t one big thing that caused me unhappiness which made it difficult to determine how to improve my stay or why I didn’t like the area. Sometimes it is a conglomerate of situations. But I was stuck because of a rental lease. My goal: make the best of the situation as I try with everything in life.
Try these ideas to make the best of a situation:
1. Create a countdown calendar
Counting down to an anticipated event makes the days bearable. Knowing when you are leaving and how much time is left makes that fateful day seem as if it is right around the corner. Plus crossing the days off gives you a sense of accomplishment. Yes, one more day completed!
2. Start a happiness list
Every day write down one thing about the area that makes you happy. This may seem like an impossible task considering you don’t like the area but it will force you to find simple little things that bring you joy. Knowing you have to write your one thing helps you think happier thoughts. I filled in my countdown calendar with my one happy thought every day. My list was not filled with big grand things but minor simple thoughts such as “It didn’t rain today” or “I made $5 more than yesterday” or “The new meal I made tasted marvelous.” One of my favorite happiness items was walking down the middle of the highway with the road to myself. I had to walk a mile to the bus stop every morning at 5:30 a.m. Not a lot of traffic at that time of the morning so having the road to myself for as long as possible made me happy. I took to walking in the middle lane because it made me feel like I owned the whole place.
This list was a major mental survival tool for me.
3. Force Yourself to Get out and Explore
It is easy to close yourself in when you are unhappy in a place. Don’t fall prey to this situation. Force yourself to get out and explore your immediate area. Surely you went to the location for a reason so go explore that initial reason. Perhaps it was the beauty of the scenery. Go for walks or hiking. Perhaps it was a particular sport. Go try that sport. Explore and discover what draws tourists and locals to the area. Do the touristy things. Get a second job to fill time and meet other people. You never know when something will click and the area will become your favorite place in the whole world.
4. Plan Day Trips or Long Weekends
If there is a city nearby, plan a day trip or several day trips. Go window shopping. Spoil yourself. Eat at different locally owned restaurants. Hang out in a bookstore or coffee shop. Switch up your daily scenery. Rent a car and travel to a place locals tell you to see. Or plan a long weekend away. Find a bus or train that will take you on a short journey to another location to visit for a few days. Get away from the daily humdrum. Portland and Seattle were my saviors in this respect. I loved getting away to Portland, it is still one of my favorite US cities.
5. Persuade Friends and Family to Visit You
While this option may be rather difficult depending on where you are located, it is still a possibility and quite the mood lifter when someone commits to a visit. Chances are you chose a location that is a tourist destination in some way shape or form, therefore, friends and family may want to see this exotic, fun-filled area in which you live. You don’t have to tell them that actually living in the area is not quite what it seems. There are ups and downs to everywhere. As a tourist, they will only see the ups and you will have a great time showing them the upside. The anticipation of planning an upcoming visit will definitely make your day more cheerful. The week my sister and her husband came to visit was a highlight of my four-month stay. We had so much fun exploring areas in which I had never been as they wanted to see and do stuff I hadn’t considered. A fresh perspective puts a different spin on your thoughts.
6. Use Your Time – Complete a Task or Goal
If you are like everyone else, chances of you having a list of big grand ideas are great. You probably have some great task or hobby or something you’ve always wanted to complete or try. Now is the time to do it. You probably have tons of time on your hands since you know every few people and are not seeking out the social life you are used to. Use this time to your advantage. You may not get such an opportunity again. I had enough time to write a book, create this website a couple of times and do everything else on this list.
So head out into the world and explore. Find a way to enjoy your time when you are stuck in a location. There are ways. Chances are you will figure out a way to make your time enjoyable as well as shorter.
About the Writer:
Tricia Krohn is a 40-something adventurer funding her travels with seasonal work. She writes about her journeys and ways in which to fund traveling at The Adventure List. Currently, home base is in Alaska where she spends 7 months out of the year.
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