Get off the military installation! This may seem obvious, but it needs to be said. Especially if you live on post/base in a foreign country, it can be tempting to stay in that little military cocoon where it feels safe. Remember, some people would give anything to travel! You may be thousands of miles from “home,” but guess what? You’re living someone else’s dream!
Explore where you live. But what if you’re not in an especially exotic location and you find yourself in Smalltown, USA? Make the most of it! One friend of mine suggested taking a map and drawing a 25-50 mile radius around where you live. Then, determine to hit every ‘tourist’ or landmark spot in that area. Branch out further once you’ve done that. You might be surprised what you come up with! When we lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota (admittedly not a typical tourist destination), we hunted for antiques at estate sales in giant old barns, picked strawberries from the field of a local grower, snapped photos by huge sunflower fields, and drove to the Badlands on the other side of the state. My point? No matter where you are, you can always find something new to do! (I also got my little doggie at a pet store in Fargo while my husband was deployed, but that is a story for another day. Surprise, honey!)
Buddy up with the locals. Whether U.S. or overseas, these are the folks who can point you to the hole-in-the wall food joints, best shopping, and areas to avoid. Make the most of these local experts. I find that people are usually proud of where they live and happy to share their knowledge when asked. You might also make a new friend!
What if I just hate my location? I think it would be the rare location that is all bad. Does this sound just too chipper to be true? Sure, there are challenges. I haven’t been head over heels in love with every assignment, and have counted down the days till we leave some places. But if you look hard enough, I believe you can always find a silver lining. I’ll admit I wasn’t especially excited to leave Hawaii a couple of months ago. But I determined to find a bright side when we arrived here in Virginia and managed to find a few benefits like lower cost of living and rediscovering some fast food places we’d missed while being overseas.
I hope you’ll resolve today to make the most of the opportunities presenting themselves wherever you are-whether it’s a nature trail, a sunny beach, or a new shop. Grab a friend and go! And if you pass a woman with a fading tan and Hawaii license plates pulling into Sonic for a cherry limeade, it just might be me!
Photo Credit: Marcy Kellar