You consider yourself somewhat well-travelled. Maybe not as much as those friends of yours who have lived in almost every city between Sao Paulo and St. Petersburg, thanks to parents in the foreign service. You’re well-travelled nonetheless, well enough that you can now slide effortlessly between English and French within one conversation, using a turn of phrase that is described as “quaint” by the condescending and “fascinating” by the linguistics buffs. Pidgin English collides with the Queen’s preferred version, on a tongue that craves fried plantains and poulet yassa as much as it does mumbo sauce. Packing your bags under a faint haze of nostalgia is something you have grown accustomed to, and so you mistake the regret of not having explored more or “seen all you could see” for the vague sense of missing home. Do you recognize yourself in this description?

I’ve reached a point where I seem to be living more between airports than destinations, and I’m not ashamed to say that I identify with the above profile of a wannabe jetsetter. I grew up in Accra, Ghana, finding home in endless traffic jams and in the almost guaranteed kindness of strangers. No sooner had I settled in my new home on a college campus in Washington, DC, did I find myself leaving for four months for a study abroad program in Dakar, Senegal. Home is become a much more portable concept for me, something that isn’t defined so much by four stoic walls as much as it by the experiences and emotions, sights and sounds that I accumulate along the way. A few bars of a song heard faintly through a taxi radio are likely to make me feel at home because I’m reminded of an over-priced (but priceless) night in Dakar’s Almadies neighborhood, or more like a night spent avoiding questionable characters at the much cheaper local bar. I’ve also experienced non-existent summers and historic heat-waves in London, dune-bashing in Dubai, being stared at in Singapore and Mona Lisa’s famous smirk in Paris, thanks to my mother’s lifelong love of travelling even when we couldn’t quite afford it.

The regret creeps in as I realize that the constant shifting of geographical locations has led me to skim the surface of what these beautifully complex places have to offer. I believe a sense of complacency clouds over wanderlust especially when you stay somewhere long enough to feel as though you know it from the inside out. After living in Accra for 18 years, I now realize that the places I visit frequently are what may be seen as “tourist traps” considering that I haven’t given myself the chance to get to know the city one layer below the gloss of “Must see” lists and tourist guides. My advise to all the would-be travellers or to anyone who carries home with them in a passport cover is to shed the “been there done that” attitude. Allow yourself to be an adventurer in your own city, you’ll be surprised what you might discover!