As our travels stretch quietly past their 8-month mark, I’ve become even more of a slow traveler. Or not even a slow traveler. Instead, someone who settles in and lives in a new place—albeit for just a month or six weeks at a time. And part of that routine, part of having a real life on the road, is making every space I rent feel homey, comfortable, and inspiring.
Last year, I didn’t always do a great job of this and often felt, when it came to housing, like a traveler, a stranger, someone passing through. I did my best to settle into places like a local, dive into the culture, find the hidden places and identify the cultural faux pas. But when it came to housing, I almost always opted for the cheapest option and I didn’t always do a great job of making those spaces feel like home.
This year, I want to feel like each space is my home, temporary though it may be. And so I decided to spend a little more money and put a little more focus into finding spaces that are beautiful and comfortable. Spaces where I can rest or work. Spaces where I can feel inspired.
And I’ve found that not only is it important to choose the right space, but it’s also important for me to make it my home. So on day one in each new space, I make homey-ness my mission. And I do things like…
1. Unpack my bags.
I met some travelers on the train a few days ago and they told me they were so tired of living out of their bags. They couldn’t wait to get home to their closets.
I get that.
Even though I travel full-time, I also hate living out of a bag. Not because I need more stuff. I don’t. But because constantly sifting through your bag for that elusive scarf or having to take everything out and put it back in again in order to get to the curling iron just feels like a waste of time and energy—and it feels unsettled.
That’s why I don’t live out of my bag. I can fit everything I own into my bag, but as soon as I’m “home” it all comes out. I fold my clothes and store them in the dresser or on some shelves or in the closet. I set up my toiletries where I can find them. I leave my boots beside the door.
2. Set up a beautiful, uncluttered office.
Since I spend much of my week working on client projects, articles, and other business-y type things, it’s really important that I have a comfortable, clear workspace where I can get things done.
3. Stock the kitchen.
One of the only trips I make outside the apartment on my first day is a trip to the markets. For a space to feel like home to me, it should, at minimum, have tea bags, honey, milk, bread, and something to eat with the bread (spreads, cheese, etc.).
I often stock the kitchen first and make myself a cup of tea to enjoy while I unpack. For some reason, tea always makes me slow down and take my time, enjoying the simple tasks of unpacking and organizing.
4. Spread out.
For a space to feel like home, I have to treat it like home. I write reminders and inspirations on sticky notes sometimes, sticking them on mirrors and windows. I put my shoes by the door. I find a place to hang the keys and Luna’s leash. And I get comfortable.
5. Break out the bubbly.
Finally, I try to have a mini celebration in each new location. Here in France, I bought a bottle of seven-year-old wine and invited my expat friends over for some wine, cheese, and baguettes covered in Italian spreads. Dinner parties or even a slow, quiet meal in my new space go a long way toward making me feel at home.
When you travel, what do you do to make a rental or hotel room feel comfortable and lived in?
[UPDATE: There are some amazing suggestions down in the comments. So if you are looking for more tips, do scroll down! Radka suggests adding flowers and Maria notes that you can rearrange the furniture if you want. Brilliant stuff, guys.]
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