Harriet Koehler used to travel a lot. But eventually she realised: It’s not all about being somewhere else. Her book, Gebrauchsanweisung fürs Daheimbleiben (Instructions For Staying At Home), couldn’t have come at a better time.
The German author spoke about discovering the world without travelling, and why it’s possible to get homesick at home.
For a long time you believed that holidays are always relaxing, while staying at home is boring. But in your book, you draw a different conclusion. Why?
Koehler: At some point, I realised that constant travelling is actually madness. Eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by tourism. But it still took me a long time to give up travelling. When I finally did, it was very easy – or easier at least than giving up sugar or coffee.
Your book is a how-to guide. What do we need to learn in order to stay at home successfully?
Staying at home is about more than not travelling, it’s an attitude toward life. If you are content with what you have, you stop wishing you were somewhere else.
You write in your book that homesickness and wanderlust are quite similar emotions.
Both homesickness and wanderlust are not so much about a certain place but an inner emotion. They both indicate that something is missing.
Wanderlust doesn’t simply mean you want to be somewhere else but that you want to experience something different in another place in order to escape from your everyday self.
Homesickness means that you are feeling lonely, homeless and are missing a time during which you felt protected – which is why it’s also possible to feel homesick at home.
The longing for taking a break and discovering the world often leads to wanderlust. How is it even possible to satisfy those needs at home?
By realising that travelling also doesn’t necessarily satisfy those needs. While we often wish to escape from ourselves by travelling, we rarely succeed. We end up thinking about work in a remote cabin or get into a fight at the most romantic restaurant in the world.
Why not do all the nice things you do on holiday at home and try out another version of yourself – a more relaxed, interested and elegant one, for example?
How can we discover something new at home?
By looking at the place you live in like a tourist would. Taking long walks, for example, allows you to discover new things. Taking a guided tour through your neighbourhood is another great way to broaden your horizon.
Guided tours aren’t exactly an option these days...Why not get to know your neighbours, then? Ask how they are doing and if they need help with anything. Being connected to the people around you really helps to form roots.
How can we escape our daily routine at home?
Try doing things for which there usually isn’t enough time, like reading a classic book, or cooking extravagantly, cleaning up your balcony or calling old friends. And if nothing helps, planning your next trip with care and time can also be a great remedy. – dpa
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