2020 has been a difficult year to navigate. Because we are all home so often now, I have to lock myself in the bathroom just for a quick moment of peace and quiet. Walks around the neighborhood are great, but everything still feels so weird. And if I have to defrost one more mystery meal from the bottom of my freezer, I’m going to lose it.

The current pause in travel has me reflecting on my past trips and why I love to travel. Traveling allows me easy access to my favorite forms of self-care. I love a quiet morning cup of tea while soaking up my surroundings — the more beautiful, the better! There’s nothing that relaxes me as much as walking through a new town, hiking in the fresh mountain air or hitting a winding trail on my bike. And is there anything more lovely than a slow dinner overlooking the water with a glass of wine?

I also travel because I love meeting new people and experiencing local cultures — through art, history, food, drinks and music. I love how it gets me out of my comfort zone and makes me more present. When I travel, I am in the moment. Sometimes I will go hours without looking at my phone (okay, fine, 20 minutes). I feel at my best when I’m traveling.

Travel transforms. It awakens. It teaches.

Travel for everyone is a path to well-being. It guides us all to better understand our world and, as a result, ourselves. New experiences connect us to one another, and we gain a sense of responsibility in our universe and to our fellow humans.

But, when I consider all the reasons why I travel, none of them require anything grandiose. I don’t need to fly halfway around the world to meet new people or try new food. I can do that anywhere. Sometimes, I think we get so caught up in these big adventures that it keeps us from thinking that less fabulous (aka more convenient) locales don’t count. But there are so many wonderful places that are a quick flight or even within driving distance from wherever we call home.

Here’s an exercise: Write down the three best trips you’ve ever taken.

What made them so special? Was it the people? The activities? The solitude? The views? The weather?

Now look at your list and think of ways you can integrate those things in a less far-flung destination. This is just one good reason why working with a travel advisor pays off. They know all sorts of domestic (and even local-ish) places that “wow”.

They can help you find a cozy lodge with a fireplace and maybe even a hot tub. They can point you to a quaint small town known for scenic hikes and great breweries. They can even score you a deal at a luxurious hotel downtown, complete with soaking tub and access to all those shows you can’t binge when the kids are around (and if there’s contactless room service, I may never leave). Even small trips offer big rewards, and this year, I’ve really learned to appreciate the little things and that travel is truly a gift.

What’s more: if you were able take a smaller trip this year, it means you can save up for something extra fabulous in 2021 and beyond. Did you know bookings for next year are through the roof? Especially when it comes to trips like Alaskan cruises, European river cruises and luxe rail journeys. Did you know it’s scientifically proven that just planning a trip brings you happiness? Now if that’s not self-care, I don’t know what is.