It’s probably not a surprise to you, but travel is a big part of my life. My initial “big trip” around the world in 2010 had a huge effect on who I am today, on my interests, my job, and even how I view the world. Travel allows us to open up our minds, to experience new things, and—importantly—to learn.
While the tourism industry is currently on hold during this quarantine crisis, it’s still possible to learn, and in a way, to then travel. Not to physically travel, of course, but these experiences help to bring the thrill of travel to your own home.
I’m still struggling with this new (hopefully temporary) way of life in my own ways, but while I figure that out, I’m also trying to focus on those travel experiences that once brought me so much joy. I’m spending a lot of time FaceTiming with friends around the world, an important connection to keep during self-isolation and social distancing.
But while FaceTime is great, there are lots of solo activities you can do to still get that taste of travel while at home.
5 Travel-Inspired Things to do When You Can’t Travel
Take a virtual language class
If you’ve been following my adventures online for a while, you’ll know language has been a big part of my travel story. I’ve taken language classes in Germany and Spain, and also used language apps and games to learn on the go.
When you’re stuck at home, learning a language is a great way to pass the time. And you can usually do it pretty easily from your phone or computer. Duolingo is a favorite app of mine, and its free features are really useful and fun—a great way to start learning a new language or practicing one you’re not as familiar with.
And if you’re lucky to have a bit of expendable income at the moment, Rosetta Stone’s paid online version is a great way to get top-notch, expert lessons to learn a language.
My recommendation: use this time to practice your rusty language skills or start learning the language of a place you want to visit in the future. Bonus: once your language skills improve enough, you can use the extra free time to watch foreign language films, read books in their original language, or even set up Skype meetings with people across the world. It’s a great way to further connect while we all feel so isolated.
Read more about learning languages:
Cook different cuisines
Anyone who has traveled, even a little bit, knows how important cuisine is to a culture. When people are asked “why” they travel to a specific place, many people actually say it’s the food that drives them to discover a new place.
So it makes sense then that if we travel for food, we can then also use food to travel. When out at the grocery store, wander down the international food aisle and see what piques your interest. Stock up on international spices form local grocery stores (even better: Chinese groceries that may otherwise be struggling right now).
Browse the vast internet for recipes from your favorite cities and countries. Open up that cookbook you got as a gift from your friends who traveled to Thailand last winter and see what ingredients you have and can easily order online or pick up locally.
The best part? You can make a whole night of the travel experience. Spend a few hours researching the cuisine of your chosen culture or country, pick a recipe, cook, and then maybe put on a foreign film from the same location to really immerse yourself!
Read more about foods from around the world:
Read travel books & essays
Just today I picked up a book off my shelf that I’d forgotten about. Being stuck at home, I’ve suddenly found the time to read again. And it’s so refreshing! The time away from a screen, it’s almost like that feeling you get when you’re actually traveling!
In the past, I’ve read a lot of travel essays and memoirs, but truthfully I find fiction to be my favorite way to travel with an escape. Oftentimes in fiction, the setting itself can be a character. It’s a great way to discover a new place through the written words, an escape from the image-heavy travel media world we live in today.
Oh, and if you want a great travel memoir about Venice, check out Joseph Brodsky’s book Watermark—one of my all-time favorites.
Read more about my favorite travel books:
Looking to get creative while stuck at home? If you’ve got some things laying around, you can fake your own trip to wherever you want to go!
Back during the rise of Instagram and its effect on travel, there were a few studies done by researchers who actually faked entire holidays and gap years by using blue-screens and Photoshop. It was funny because it actually worked!
Read more about faking your trip:
Travel can be a great, safe escape even in these difficult times. And you don’t even have to travel!