There’s nothing worse than being stuck at home when you’ve been bitten by the travel bug. The current travel restrictions and uncertainties we are facing due to the pandemic situation leave us wondering when we can go out freely and travel again or go wherever we want to go.
Or, when this pandemic is over and the travel restrictions are lifted, but you had to unexpectedly cancel travel plans, haven’t saved enough money yet, or can’t seem to get time off from work. Whatever your reason for being unable to travel right now, you don’t have to settle for endlessly scrolling through other globe trotter’s Instagram feeds.
In this digital age, traveling from home is a new, if unorthodox, option. It might sound a little odd at first, but the internet has provided us with so many surprising ways to connect with people and communities across the globe.
Here are seven clever ways to travel without leaving home, find paradise from your couch, learn about new cultures, and maybe even pick up a few phrases in another language.
1. Escape Into Foreign Films And Travel Shows (And Take Notes)
As travelers, we all have movies and TV shows that either remind us of past adventures or inspire us to book trips. With most people having access to one or more streaming services, there’s never been a better time to virtually escape to another city or country and take notes for future trips.
Shows like “Parts Unknown” or “Dark Tourist” present first-person experiences with new cultures, while other reality shows like “The Amazing Race” or even “Bachelor in Paradise” can make you feel for a moment like you’re no longer on your couch.
Foreign films, though occasionally tricky to follow if you don’t speak the language, can offer an even more in-depth perspective on another place. And if you aren’t fluent, they can help you pick up some language skills which can be helpful on that next trip.
2. Cook A Foreign Dish
One of the most profound ways we connect to each other as human beings is through food. In the past, you’d have to travel to a place yourself or get your hands on a cookbook to create recipes from foreign lands. But now, we have all kinds of recipe blogs, Pinterest and even Instagram!
There are plenty of recipes online, and many are accompanied by blogs that give the backstory of each dish. To travel from home via your own kitchen, try picking a new country or a region and doing a different native dish each day for a week, like this Easy Cajun Rice. Cajun cooking is a style of cooking named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Acadia in Canada, incorporating West African, French and Spanish cooking techniques, in the region of Louisiana (Wikipedia). If you aren’t gifted in the culinary arts, takeout is always an option too!
3. Read Books That Transport You To Another Place
Books have always had the ability to take us to other places, sometimes even more than movies and tv shows. And with books, you have to ability to jump more than just locations- you can go back in time and experience life in another era. It’s a great way to do a cultural deep dive.
Whether you’re into historical fiction (Spanish castles, anyone?), non-fiction travelogues by inspirational globe-trotters, or everyday novels from another country, books are a great way to let your mind explore a new place.
4. Picture Yourself There
Anyone who loves to travel has favorite photos from trips past. One fun way many people have been re-living those moments of glory is by recreating them from their homes. Imagine a photo of an excited couple in a kayak on the left, and the same couple in bathrobes “kayaking” on an ironing board on the right. The idea is to use items sitting around your house, bringing out your inner creativity.
Another creative way to picture yourself on vacation is through clever use of photo editing software. Some travelers that have had to give up their dream vacations or cancel their carefully made plans have skillfully (and sometimes humorously) edited themselves into iconic shots on their bucket list spots.
5. Learn A New Language
If your dream destination has a bit of a language barrier, use your time between trips to polish up on your speaking skills. Try a tried and true program like Rosetta Stone or check out some free apps that allow users to interact and assist each other.
By the time you go on that next trip, you’ll hopefully be able to interact with the locals beyond just “Hello” and “Thank you.”
6. Try A Backyard “Staycation”
If you’re a camper, or in any way outdoorsy, you might already have a tent, sleeping bag, or even an RV on hand. Even if you don’t have a huge yard, you can use whatever camping equipment you can find to create a unique escape outside.
If you live in a colder climate, or have a balcony rather than a yard, there’s always indoor camping. Whether you have kids or just want to bring out your inner child, a tent or blanket fort in the living room is never not fun.
7. Share Your Stories
Most travelers love sharing stories, and while this usually happens in communal spaces (like backpacker hostels) it can also happen from the comfort of your couch. By using platforms like Facebook groups and Skype we can connect with friends from around the world, virtually.
Try joining groups for like-minded travelers on Facebook, or reach out to friends met on previous trips to catch up.
If you’ve been dreaming about far away places, it can be hard to sit at home watching other people live out their bucket list dreams. Just remember that no matter what your circumstances might be, there are still plenty of ways to escape mentally, as well as meaningfully connect to other people and cultures. Yes, there are tons of ways to travel without leaving home, and hopefully, when your next trip rolls around you’ll be that much more ready to venture out and make memories that will last a lifetime.