01/12/2011 01:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Travel the World Without Leaving Home

Why do we travel?
  • We travel because we are curious, wanting to see, try and learn new things.
  • We travel to meet interesting people.
  • We travel for fun.
  • We travel for escapism, to get away from "normal" for a little while.
But sometimes we can't get away -- time is tight or the wallet's a little light. For someone infected with wanderlust, like me, this can be hard to bear.

However, mulling over my list of reasons why I enjoy traveling, I realized that you don't need to head to the end of the world for many of these experiences.

So this year I've decided to experiment with exploring the world without leaving home.
Let me explain.

I am fortunate to live in London, England. It's one of the most diverse cities on the planet, with diasporas from every country imaginable. It makes sense for me to get out in my own city more, to delve a little deeper.

So, for 2011, I have hatched a plan to try to eat in a restaurant representing a country from each letter of the alphabet. There are no other rules than that. Starting with 'A for Afghanistan' I will munch my way haphazardly across the world of London. I'll pick each country on the basis of me having been there before, or me not having been there before, or because it's famous for its food, or because it's not famous for anything. In other words there is no set plan, though presumably Oman and Qatar will feature! And any suggestions for 'X' would be most welcome...

I am looking for random, spontaneous encounters such as those that light up our travels. I'm only just beginning, but I suspect that this could become one of the most interesting (and delicious) traveling years of my life so far.

Why not try a similar idea where you are? You may not live somewhere quite so cosmopolitan as London. But give it a go. It need not be food, nor even something as structured as an A to Z. It could be music or movies or book clubs. Just try something new, something foreign (in both meanings of the word), and test whether my hunch is correct; that you can travel the world without leaving home. Here's how I got on with my first meal: