How to Answer the Call of the Mountains When You Don’t Have the Vacation Days to Get You There

We all know the saying… “The Mountains are calling, and I must go.”  But what about all those times that you can’t? 

There’s a reason John Muir didn’t say, “the Mountains are calling and I…don’t have enough vacation days to get there, sorry, maybe next month.”  The guy dedicated his life to protecting the mountains.  Going to the mountains was like going into the office.  But unless you’re living the John Muir life, you probably aren’t able to just go.

And that sucks, right?  Sometimes the city gets to you.  There’s light pollution, and noises at all times of the day and night.  There are people harassing you for money, people who yell at teenagers because their burrito order is wrong, people who seem to have never parked a car in their life, or people who think that stop signs are optional. 

There are so many perks to living in a city, but sometimes, the city life sucks!  Sometimes you just want to get away, but you can’t find a window.  Maybe you’ve used up all your vacation days, or maybe you’re saving them for another time.  Maybe you’re one of the few who legitimately enjoys your job and couldn’t imagine leaving during busy season.  Maybe you have other obligations keeping you home, and that’s fine too!  Life is about balance, and sometimes as much as you would like for the scale to be tipping in your favor, it just needs to lean the other way for a while. 

But don’t let that keep you down.  There are things you can do to answer the call of the mountains without leaving your routine. 

1. Reminisce

One of my favorite ways to answer the call of the mountains is to look at photos of the mountains.  Kind of like when I’m missing my family or friends back in Wisconsin and I flip through old photos to remember all the great moments.  This gets me through until our next visit. 

You can do the same thing for your favorite trips.  Flip through old photos, remember all the amazing things you saw and did.  It will refresh old memories and bring those moments right back to the front of your mind. 

When we return from an adventure, I love putting all my photos together into a physical photo album, that way I always have something quick to grab and look through when I’m in the mood to remember a certain moment.   Creating these albums also shortens the “mourning period” between trips.  The time I spend making these is time I don’t spend thinking about how much I miss where we had been.

2. Read a Mountain-inspired Book

There are so many things that can get the job done here.  You can read a book that takes place at your favorite destination, you can read a non-fiction book that teaches you more about a place you want to visit or a place you’ve recently been, and when in doubt, you could always pick up a book that John Muir wrote to really feel connected to the mountains again.  No matter what you like you read, there is something out there that you can use to occupy your mind until your next trip!

Here are some books I’m checking out next:

John Muir - Our National Parks
Our National Parks by John Muir
Book Recommendation: Death In Yellowstone
Death in Yellowstone by Lee H. Whittlesey
Book Recommendation: Following Atticus by Tom Ryan.  Dog hiking book
Following Atticus
By Tom Ryan

If you love reading almost as much as you love travel, I’ve got a blog post for you to check out: 6 Types of Books You Should Be Reading in 2019 to Share a Deeper Connection with your Next Travel Destination.

3. Create Art

No one ever said you had to be good at art to create it (okay, there are people who say that out there, I’m sure.  But they’re wrong!) Art is a way to express yourself.  It’s not something you have to create for someone else, it’s something you should create to highlight your unique self. 

Art is so, so personal, and if you are feeling a longing to travel, art can be a way for you to express that feeling.  I love painting.  I don’t do it often because there are so many other things that I also love that I give priority, but if I had all the time in the world, I would love to start each and every day with a cup of coffee and a paint brush. 

Art doesn’t have to be painting though.  It can be drawing, writing, collage-making, dancing, singing, photographing, quilting, beading and all the other –ings that bring people so much joy.  Art is a beautiful thing. 

If you’re really, really not feeling the whole creating thing, you can get the same feeling of joy from supporting artists.  Buying a piece of art for your wall that reminds you of your most recent travel can bring you the same joy as having created it yourself. 

We buy poster prints of all the national parks we’ve visited.  Created by artists and proceeds support the National Park Service.

4. Hike Local

Sometimes the thing we need most out of a vacation is fresh air, slow-paced living, and a little bit of extra movement in our day.  What if I told you that you could get that all the time?  It’s true! (But you already knew that, right?)

There are hiking trails everywhere.  You don’t need to hike a six-mile loop around Mirror Lake finishing with a view of Half Dome to be a hiker.  There are so many state parks that all offer great trails.  (Have you ever heard someone say they don’t like a state park? Parks are awesome!)

Don’t be afraid to broaden your definition of a hike.  We’ve been on a few hiking tours of caves here in Missouri.  Cave hikes might lack Vitamin D, but can really make up for it in versatility. 

This weekend, we were stuck with single digit temperatures here in St. Louis, but the temperature inside a cave is always right around 50 degrees.  It’s the perfect place for a warm winter hike!

5. Get Planning!

Perhaps the best way of all to combat the blues that follow the end of a trip is to get started planning your next one.  I love to always have a list of the places we will be visiting in the upcoming year, that way I always know what I can be planning next.  With something to look forward to, the next vacation doesn’t feel so far away. 

When the mountains are calling, you don’t have to drop everything and run to find happiness. There are ways that you can answer the call without leaving everything else behind.  These are five ways that I love to get reconnected with nature from the comfort of my city apartment.  What ways do you like to answer the call of the mountains?

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