Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Make Yourself at Home

Contrary to popular belief, I do NOT like to travel. I like BEING somewhere, but I don't like the hassle of getting there. Because of this, I pushed the idea of spending most of our Australia time in one place--one hotel, rather than jumping around from place to place. After the long plane ride, I didn't want to take more plane rides or train rides.....or long car rides.

I promoted the plan as being an authentic cultural experience. We wouldn't be just tourists. I said we could feel like we lived in Australia. I really do love spending a lot of time in one place. I like that feeling of this is home--even if you are leaving in a few weeks.

Our plan was to spend about 2.5 weeks in Sydney, and one week in a small beach town called Port Stephens. The Sydney hotel we stayed at had an apartment-like quality; full kitchen and laundry.

Before we left, we ordered food and other needful things from Woolworths--one of the main Aussie grocery stores. I tried to stay clear of anything American. Not too difficult. There's not much American food in Australia. I wanted us to eat Australian stuff. So we stocked up on Weet-bix, Arnott's Shapes, and Tim Tams. (No Vegemite...will talk about that on another date).

I think having a stocked pantry and a place to do laundry gives your holiday/vacation a this-is-home quality. It also helps to buy regular-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner instead of using the tiny little hotel bottles.

One great way to make me feel I'm at home is to visit the same places over and over. We got a membership to Sydney Wildlife World and The Sydney Aquarium. They were right near our hotel and I figured we'd go frequently enough to pay back the membership cost. Buying a membership to somewhere makes me feel like a local. I felt so special carrying the little card in the pocket (although it actually took us awhile to get an actual card).

We actually might have gone overboard with the repeat-business idea though, because my friend Michelle started to look at me as if I was crazy. Have you been to the Maritime museum yet?

Powerhouse Museum?


Australia Museum?

Uh....not yet. Should we go?"

Michelle had to push me to venture out more.

And speaking of Michelle.... that's another way to feel at home. Meet a friend! I think this is the biggest way to make a strange place feel home-like. Find a wonderful friend. I had Michelle's number on my mobile and we arranged some playdates. Nothing can make you feel more at home than arranging playmates with a fellow mother.

I guess in summary, I'll make a list.

Dina's Guide to Making a Place Feel Like Home

a) stay in a place that has a kitchen....and laundry if possible

b) go grocery shopping! I think it's a great way to see a culture. We did many grocery store visits. Jack and I would have so much fun looking at all the different products

c) buy food and toiletries/medicines that come from that country. Although some places (like Australia) are expensive so you might want to take some stuff from home. If you're from UK visiting the U.S....things will be so cheap for you. You might as well not even pack a suitcase and just buy everything once you get here!)

d) Meet a friend and make plans with them.

e) find places you like and visit them over and over again.

The only problem with all the above is sometimes it makes the place seem TOO much like home. And it's really hard to say good-bye.

At least for me it was.