September 8, 2014

I’m currently in Portland, Oregon, for a 1 week trip with my friend John. And we have nothing to do. Almost no plans, except for a couple of coffee shops we wrote down and a Foursquare list I made. We’re also going to a creative workshop called Planning-ness but that’s only later in the week.

Free time, lots of it

Sitting in an Apple Store (oh yes!), I got reminded of why it’s so good to be a tourist for a minute. Unless you planned every minute of your trip, being a tourist usually gives you plenty of free time. And since you’re not disturbed by your regular interruptions, you end up using your free time in surprising ways. You do things you’d feel guilty to do otherwise.

I just spent 45 minutes listening to new music through Bang & Olufsen and Beats headphones at the Apple Store. I tried every model available, one by one, balancing the EQ to see the subtle differences in each. I’m not a sound geek but I do play music and I never take the time to listen to new stuff, let alone try new pieces of equipment. I’d have never done that at home, it would have felt like a waste of time. But hey, I got nothing to do here.

Being a tourist at home

Taking vacations is good because you can see cool stuff, try new things, get some sun, wake up late,etc. But it’s also a good reminder of how your body and your mind react without all the daily interruptions and constraints. I guess it wouldn’t be bad to observe that and try to replicate this feeling at home.

We often here the expression being a tourist in your own city. I always thought it meant seeing your city through the eye of a newcomer. But tourists don’t see things differently. They just value time differently. Every minute spent doing something they like is time well spent. It’s a good ROI on their trip investment (that sounds horrible but it’s true).

When you’re stuck in your routine, every minute spent doing something you like is unproductive time. You let yourself some time to watch that new series but you feel bad about it. Even the types of activities you do in your free time are different that the ones you’d do on vacations. It should not be like that.

Maybe being a tourist at home simply means doing things in your city without any guilt or feeling of what you should be doing on your free time.

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