With the coronavirus stifling travel plans and keeping us all at home, there’s never been a tougher time for travel lovers. Wanderlust is real, and it’s especially difficult to overcome when you’re stuck inside. We likely won’t be able to travel for the next several weeks, or even months. I’m hopeful that these quarantine measures won’t last that long, but let’s prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
In light of all the bad, there’s still some good news that can come from all this. For starters, we’re all lucky to be connected. Imagine how dreadful it must have been to live through the 1918 influenza pandemic, being cooped up inside for a long time without a smartphone (or any phone for that matter – though invented in 1876, telephones didn’t become common in US households until the 1930s). We’re lucky to be able to FaceTime family and friends during a time like this. We’re all in this together (queue the High School Musical soundtrack).
With a smartphone, laptop, and internet connection, there are so many ways we can still travel in our minds and hearts. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, it’s about the journey, not the destination. We can still gain many of the benefits of traveling from the comfort of our own homes.
From learning new things and skills to reminiscing on past adventures and dreaming about the next ones, here are some ways to pass the time inside while cultivating our passions for travel.
Disclosure: As an avid traveler with a small business in the travel industry, this global crisis hits close to home. However, the most important thing we can all right now is stay home, practice social distancing, and postpone our travel plans until the situation is resolved. I encourage you to do the same so we can flatten the curve and curb the spread of this virus. Be sure to stay informed and follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
1. Dive into some new books
Need a little escape from the 24-hour news coverage of coronavirus? Pick up a book and start reading!
Though I’m naturally inclined to recommend travel books, I think it’s a good idea to mix up different genres to keep it interesting. Right now, I’m reading In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah, who I met at TravelCon last summer. I enjoy his storytelling and witty humor, which combined with the cultural context, keeps me stimulated and engaged. Highly recommend it!
Another one of my favorite books is Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves. It brings together travel and politics and shows how we can learn more about our own country by viewing it from afar. All royalties from the sale of his book are donated to Bread for the World, an organization working to end hunger at home and abroad.
Reading is a great way to take your mind off the current situation and focus your attention on another reality. Travel books will help feed your wanderlust, which we all need right now.
2. Take a virtual class
For those of us confined to our homes, now’s a great time to take a virtual class and pick up new skills (or brush up on existing ones).
There are virtual classes for pretty much anything these days, but a couple of good ideas that come to mind are photography courses and language lessons. I’ve also been seeing gyms streaming fitness lessons, another way to calm the nerves and get some much needed exercise. Especially now that you’re probably cooped up in your home all the time, it’s a good idea to get some exercise to boost your immune system and stay healthy.
Virtual classes are a great way to bring the world to you, so you’ll be in great mental or physical shape when the world returns to normal.
3. Learn how to cook or bake
One way to get to know a place is through its food. In fact, many people choose specific destinations based on the cuisine. If you’ve ever visited Italy, you can probably relate… 😊
Whether you’re into Italian pasta or something sweeter, you’ll find plenty of recipes online for cooking and baking. Preferably something to remind you of your favorite vacations.
A simple google search is all it takes to find some great recipes out there. Here are some keyword ideas:
- How to make fresh pasta from scratch
- Best German dessert recipes
- Authentic Asian food recipes
- Cheap comfort food recipes
- Easy baking recipes
- Family dinner recipes
Most supermarkets have an international food aisle that you should check out. Here, you will find many ingredients used in popular international dishes.
Admittedly, I’m not a chef. But after my pasta cooking course in Bologna with Italy Food Nest last fall, I vowed that one day I would make pasta from scratch, as well as cook and bake interesting foods. Now’s certainly a good time to start working on that.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my friends’ amazing food blogs!
– Mondomulia by Giulia Mulè
– Apricot Hill Lane by Emily Marino
4. Join an online travel community
Looking to expand your global network and share tips and insights with fellow travelers? Join an online travel community!
I’ve found that Facebook is a great platform for this. Here are a few destination-specific groups that I’m a part of:
There are also groups for like-minded people who share certain niches and interests. Here are some that I’m in:
- Europe Backpacker Group
- Travelers of the U.S. National Parks
- Travel Insider Bucket List
- Travel Community
Another way to bring the world to you is with Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, a forum with lots of interesting topics relating to travel.
Right now, it’s more important than ever to be connected with our peers. Online travel communities are a great way to do just that!
5. Take a virtual museum tour
Want to get cultured while you’re in your PJs? Virtual experiences are the future, and thanks to Google Arts & Culture, you can now tour a famous museum while sitting on your couch. For free. Not a bad deal. Here are five world-class museums that offer virtual tours!
- Uffizi Gallery in Florence
- Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
- Guggenheim Museum in New York
- Musée d’Orsay in Paris
- British Museum in London
In addition to these prominent museums, there are more than 2,000 other galleries around the world that you can tour. Here’s the full collection: Google Arts & Culture.
Another fun fact: using Google’s street-view feature, you can check out more cool sites from around the world, including Machu Picchu, Petra, and the Grand Canyon.
6. Learn a language
I love learning languages. I speak some Spanish and German that I’ve picked up over the years (more about me here). Though it’s something that I’ve put on the back burner while building my travel business. Now is a great time to dust off the cobwebs and get to it.
From building new relationships to feeding your brain, language-learning is a valuable life skill that makes traveling much more enriching. Even learning just a few phrases goes a long way in showing locals that you care about them and respect their culture.
Duolingo is my favorite app for learning languages. It’s free, non-committal, and easy to use. Rosetta Stone is a premium option that I recommend if you’re very serious about learning a language. Before I studied abroad in college, I spent a couple of months using it. I loved its interactive and immersive lessons, and think it’s one of the best resources apart from actually living in a place and speaking with locals.
Once you get your language skills to a decent level, you can start reading your favorite books in a different language, like Juego de Tronos (Game of Thrones in Spanish 😉). Or watching films in a foreign language. And then, once we’re able to travel again, you can impress others with your language skills.
7. Journaling and starting a travel blog
Journaling is a great way to write down your thoughts while reducing stress and anxiety. In the context of travel, it allows you to document your adventures around the world, so you can recall stories and interesting tidbits later on. I love reminiscing on past trips. These fond memories give me hope and reasons to dream for the future.
Many people have told me they’ve been meaning to start a blog but haven’t had the time. Now is a great time to do so! Though travel blogger web traffic is down due to the coronavirus, it’s a great time to get a head start so you can realize the “boom” when life returns to normal.
Here’s an article I wrote on how to start a travel blog. These tips also apply to anyone thinking about starting a food, lifestyle, or other creative blog.
If you’re not interested in starting a blog or journaling on a piece of paper, I think Instagram is a great way to document meaningful experiences. Tag me in your posts and I’d love to hear about some of your most memorable travel experiences!
8. Begin planning your next dream trip
Someday in the not-so-distant future, we will beat the coronavirus and life will return to normal. At that moment when medical experts and governments permit travel again, you can bet that I’ll be making up for lost time and traveling the world again. I think we will all deserve a bucket list vacation by then. So now is the time to dream and begin planning where we want to go when the time comes.
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