“Small travel” became a thing last year, as we all got itchy feet but were still anxious about it. The New York Times defined it as “staying close to home, but feeling like you are far away.” Which I find amusing, because parents have always traveled small: we limit road trips to the length of nap time, or choose lodging based on crib availability.
I think it’s time to move on to tiny travel.
If small travel takes you on a relaxing vacation fifteen minutes from your house, tiny travel means you never leave your neighborhood. Or house. Or couch.
We travel because we need a change, a new perspective, or to see the world. Let’s try doing this on a tiny scale.
Tiny travel is underrated and perfect for parents. It’s safe during a pandemic. You don’t even have to pack a diaper bag. Plus, it’s climate-friendly!
Tiny travel is new to me. I am not good at it. I am practicing, and I’m going to keep practicing, because it’s cheap. Just like small, or cross-country, or international, or whatever other kinds of travel you are planning, it has unique benefits. So pack a bag (or don’t), and find your favorite type of tiny travel.
Backyard Tiny Travel
Have you ever noticed: the species of birds that sing in the morning? The shape of the blades of grass in your yard? The variation in the rocks around?
Toddlers notice these things. They are our guides, usually, when we have time to listen to them. I took my kids many miles from home to show them natural wonders, which may have been a waste of time and money when we had them right there at home.
Have you ever considered: building a fairy garden in a secret space in your backyard? Camping out under the stars, when a bathroom is just inside? Making s’mores: on a fire pit, new or old, or a grill, or even just your stove?
Kids love these things. Maybe we could learn a thing or two if we make the time and space for them.
Meditative Tiny Travel
Our subconscious may be the greatest adventure of all. I am a great believer in the power of meditation to improve general well-being, but it can also take you on a wild ride. There are many paths to enlightenment: dip your toes in mindfulness, read some Deepak Chopra, or even go full Michael Pollan’s “How to Change Your Mind” (spoiler alert: psychedelics).
Get comfortable. Close your eyes. Get quiet. See where it takes you.
Armchair Tiny Travel
If you don’t mind more screen time, the internet allows you pretend you are anywhere in the world. Visit museums with Google Arts and Culture. Relax on a beach by ogling other people’s beach photos (works best while sitting in bright sunlight, or at least next to a heater). Or plan future itineraries for your family in Costa Rica, Norway, or even just Utah (it does have five national parks!).
Neighborhood Tiny Travel
New people? Probably, if you just pay attention. New sights? I bet you never noticed that crack in the sidewalk. New foods? I guess it depends what your neighborhood looks like, but you can always try a foreign recipe.
Try intentionally seeking out a hidden green space, for example, or an unfamiliar shop or restaurant. See what you can discover, in your tiny corner of the world, and know that everything you need is right there.