Exercising social distancing but the travel bug is gnawing away? Here are eight few ways to enjoy travel without leaving your home.
Learn a Language
Most of the world speaks English. But, your international travels will be richer when you can speak the local language, at least a little. Your efforts in learning key words and phrases go a long way when meeting locals. “Thank you,” “please,” and “where is…” are three I always try to learn. There are several free and paid learning websites and smart phone applications to teach you another language.
These include Duolingo (free app and website), Babbel (paid app and website), and Rosetta Stone (paid app and website). “Thank you” in French is “merci,” in Spanish it is “gracias,” and in Japanese, “arigatou gozaimasu.” Of course, learning the local word for “cheers” helps, too. (Find and download apps in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.)
Take a Tour from Your Sofa
Virtual tours and exhibits of more than 500 museums from across the globe are available compliments of Google Arts & Culture. The collection includes the Tank Room of the Natural History Museum in London, The J. Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. Visit iconic sites like Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida, and the City of Pompeii in Italy.
For real-time views of popular sites around the world, check out the EarthCam website. Use your computer to visit small towns, tropical destinations, iconic landmarks, zoos, and more.
Explore.org also offers real-time views with an emphasis on nature, Zen, and stress-busting scenes. Watch the Redwood Forest River flow in Crescent City, Calif., the changing sky over Dumpling Mountain in Katmai National Park in Alaska, and the Aurora Borealis in Churchill, Manitoba.
For a view out of this world, check out NASA and either watch live or recorded videos. Take a look at the moon as recorded by Apollo 13, follow the Mars Curiosity rover exploring Teal Ridge, and see the view from the International Space Station on UStream.
Read a Page-Turning Adventure
Pass the time by diving into a book and finding inspiration for your next adventure. If you do not already have one on your bookshelf, purchase and download electronic books retailer websites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart. Even better, put your library card to use and visit the website of your library and checkout eBooks.
Travel-related reads include “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, “Ten Years A Nomad: A Traveler’s Journey Home” by Matthew Kepnes, and “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. (Most library card holders can download media at their respective library websites. For my Southwest Florida friends: Charlotte County Library System: www.charlottecountyfl.gov/services/historical/Pages/Libraries-Home.aspx; Lee County Library System: www.leegov.com/library/online; Sarasota County Library System: https://sarac.co.sarasota.fl.us)
Create a Colorful Culture
Stay within the lines…or not. Coloring is therapeutic and here’s a way to travel while sitting around your dining room table. Find your colored pencils, markers, chalk, or whatever, download, then tap your creativity. The New York Academy of Medicine Library compiled free coloring sheets and books from libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions from across the globe and make them available on the #ColorOurCollections website. They have been gathering these since 2016 so there are hundreds of options to download.
The #ColorOurCollections week is typically the first full week of February and when the new collections are added to the website. Travel-related coloring sheets and books for 2020 includes the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago, The Canadian Canoe Museum in Ontario, and The University of Melbourne in Australia. Of local interest is the coloring book from Collier County (Florida) Museums.
Eat Around the World Without Leaving the Kitchen
Experiencing a culture includes enjoying some of its traditional foods. If you cannot travel to Thailand for pad thai or Portugal for pasteis de nata (custard tarts) or any other country, cook up dishes from your favorite destination. No cookbooks on hand? You have the internet at your fingertips and can search for recipes. If you do not have the exact ingredients in your pantry and are not leaving your home, don’t fret. You can easily substitute most ingredients by doing a quick Google search asking, “what can I substitute XX spice for?”
There is always the option of pulling up videos of popular chefs to inspire a cultural culinary journey. My favorites include Anthony Bourdain, Julia Child, and Jamie Oliver.
If you are not on a complete lockdown, consider ordering takeout from a local eatery. Try a new restaurant and dish you’ve never tasted before. In addition to trying something new, you’re taking the pressure from figuring out what to cook for dinner. Importantly, you are supporting a local business.
Get Crafty with Travel Souvenirs
Do you collect postcards, pins, brochures, wine labels, maps, or anything else during your travels? Bring them out of hiding and create a showpiece for your home. Pinterest is the perfect place to find crafty DIY projects. Search for clever ways to create a postcard travel journal, how to decoupage furniture with maps, and put together souvenir showcase jars using glass jars and the brochures and small items you brought back from your travels.
Clean Out the Closet for Your Travel Fund
Everyone likes extra cash. If you are home rather than globetrotting, clean out your closets, drawers, shed, and garage to find things you no longer need. Sell these items to make extra cash for your travel fund. One person’s trash is another one’s treasure. Look to sites as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Letgo. Or, hold a garage sale or participate in a community garage sale when we no longer need to practice social distancing.
Pop the Popcorn
Tune into Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, or other streaming service. This includes using your library’s online service, to watch travel-related films and documentaries. Some popular films to cozy up with a big bowl of popcorn include Roman Holiday (1955), National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Arc (1981), Under the Tuscan Sun (2003), and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). On the PBS website, watch the Ken Burns documentary 2009 documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.
If you are lucky enough to have movies or slides of family vacations from yesteryear, bring them out. Now is as good a time as any to watch them with loved ones.
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