There are many reasons why people can’t travel. The most common culprits stopping us from travel are not enough time off work and not enough money. In 2020, travel has been shut down by the “Pandemic” or plague as my niece likes to call it. Many of us are wondering what to do when you can’t travel
In April, we had a month-long trip planned. A Transatlantic sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Copenhagen followed up by touring Portugal for two weeks. Canceled. My dream trip to the Galapagos and Machu Pichu. Canceled… well, postponed to 2022. We are keeping our fingers crossed that by then, there will be a vaccine, and the world will be in a more settled place.
What To Do When You Can’t Travel?Get Ready For Your Next Adventure!
This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see my full disclosure policy.
Travel lovers across the planet are frustrated because they can’t scratch their travel itch. Being stuck at home when you’ve already had plans to visit the next place on your bucket list is maddening. You can’t travel to India to get a plate of Punjabi style, Chicken Bharta from the local Dhaba, and that leaves you wanting it all the more.
What to do when you can’t travel? Here are some of the best things to at least try to indulge your wanderlust when you really can’t travel.
Get Ready to Scratch Your Travel Itch by Learning a New Language
What country are you planning to go next? Spain, Japan, Hungary? Learn the language basics for your travels. Locals in all areas appreciate it when you can speak even a little of their native tongue, at least enough to ask, “Do you speak English?”
Try using an app like Duolingo or Babbel. You can download the app to your phone (iOS or Google) and start today.
Duolingo – This app offers a free version (yes, there are ads; someone has to pay). You can upgrade to a monthly subscription plan at any time for even more lessons and to get rid of the ads. The classes use the adaptive learning method giving you just-in-time feedback.
If you choose a subscription “Duolingo Plus” plan, this starts at $12.99 per month with discounts for six months and one year.
Babbel – Here, you will get a few courses for free as a way to test out the app. But you will need a subscription if you really want to learn a language. This app uses lessons that are conversational in nature. The practice is targeted to travelers, using common phrases you will need when visiting a country.
Babbel’s current subscription rate is $12.95 per month. The cost goes down if you purchase more extended periods. You can get a year of learning for just $83.40.
Do They Work?
I have used both platforms and found them to be useful. Not gifted with the ability to learn new languages, I was still able to remember enough to ask for help, order a drink, and find a bathroom from both the apps.
Can you become conversant in a new language? Maybe, maybe not. But If you put in the time and effort, you can get the basics and more. And then when you do get the chance to indulge in your wanderlust, you will at least be able to say good afternoon to your gracious hosts in their language.
Another Way to Spend Time When You Can’t Travel? Watch “Travel” Themed Shows
Do you have a Netflix, Prime Video, Disney +, or hulu subscription? Then you can scratch your travel itch by “binge-watching” TV Series or Movies that feature your favorite countries. The selections here are just a few of my favorites, but I bet you can find many more.
Small Screen Series that Travel the World When You Can’t
- The Amazing Race – Watch contestants circle the world, stopping in different countries, doing crazy stunts, and trying to make it to each pitstop before the other teams.
- Watch the late Anthony Bourdain travel the world eating and drinking and meeting fantastic people on Parts Unknown
- If you lean more towards archeology, follow Josh Gates around the world on Expedition Unknown as he explores mysteries and legends.
- In the same archeological vein, but a little more “techy” is Lost Cities with Albert Lin. Albert seeks out these lost cities. Then uses ground-penetrating LiDAR to map out the 3-D remains and brings these “Lost Cities” to life for us to see.
- If you want a series that is more a story than a “travel show,” watch the BBC America show Killing Eve. The series follows Eve, a British intelligence investigator across many countries, as she chases her nemesis, a psychopathic assassin.
Or If Movies Are More Your Thing
- “Under the Tuscan Sun” (Italy) – “When a woman learns her husband is cheating, she leaves him. To start over, she and a friend take a grand tour of Italy, which results in the new divorcee impulsively purchasing a rural Tuscan villa.” – Touchstone Pictures (now Walt Disney Studios)
- “Wild” (Nature – USA) – “After years of reckless behavior, a heroin addiction and the destruction of her marriage, Strayed makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, she sets out to hike more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. ” – Searchlight Pictures
- “Lost in Translation” (Tokyo, Japan) – “A lonely, aging movie star and a conflicted newlywed, meet in Tokyo. Strangers in a foreign land, the two find escape, distraction, and understanding amidst the bright Tokyo lights after a chance meeting in the quiet lull of the hotel bar..” – Focus Features
- “Midnight in Paris” (Paris, France) – “A screenwriter and aspiring novelist is vacationing in Paris with his fiancée and has taken to touring the city alone. On one such late-night excursion, Gil encounters a group of strange — yet familiar — revelers, who sweep him along, apparently back in time, for a night with some of the Jazz Age’s icons of art and literature.” – Sony Picture Classics
- “A Far Off Place” (Kalahari Desert, Africa) – Nonni is a South African girl who survives a massacre by evil ivory poachers. She and the other survivor, a young, arrogant American boy, flee across the vast Kalahari Desert to escape. Their only help is an African bushman called Xhabbo, who helps them negotiate the grueling 2000 kilometer journey. – Walt Disney Studios
Read a Book to Indulge Your Wanderlust
We all have a lot of time on our hands these days. Maybe you should take up the lost skill of reading. I mean really reading, not skimming through a blog or webpage. After you’re done reading my Blog, of course!
- “A Thousand Splendid Suns” – Khaled Hosseini – “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.
- “A Moveable Feast – (Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World)” – Edited by Don George – Note: This is not the Hemmingway novel. But a compilation of stories from Chef’s you know and love. From bat on the island of Fais to chicken on a Russian train to barbecue in the American heartland, from mutton in Mongolia to couscous in Morocco to tacos in Tijuana – on the road, food nourishes us not only physically, but intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually too.
- “The Alchemist” – Paul Coelho – “‘The Alchemist’ tells the enthralling story of an Andalusian shepherd who wants to travel in search of treasure. But during his adventures, he finds himself, instead,” said Varga. “Coelho shows us the journey that matters.”
- “Crazy Rich Asians” – Kevin Kwan – Between the delicious descriptions of Singapore’s world-renowned food and gorgeous greenery, you’ll forget you’re on your couch and not exploring the island country. When Rachel’s boyfriend invites her to visit his family in Singapore, she’s shocked to find out she’s currently dating one of Asia’s most eligible — and rich — bachelors.
- “Wanderlust: A Traveler’s Guide to the Globe” – Moon Travel Guide – Get inspired with lists of mythic locations, epic trails, ancient cities, and more that span the four corners. This stunning book is packed with full-color photos, charming illustrations, and fascinating overviews of each destination, making it the perfect gift for dreamers and adventurers alike. Because we all need a good guide book
You Can’t Travel Right Now, But You Can Take a “Virtual Tour!”
Museums all around the world are offering virtual tours
- The Louvre – Paris – With seven different online tours, the Louvre lets you walk through its galleries at your pace with no-one blocking your view. You can even do a “Mona Lisa Beyond the Glass” Virtual Reality Experience with an app (available at the App Store or Google Play).
- The British Museum – London – The British Museum has its own Blog, and in a recent post, it offers many ways to visit when the museum is closed. You can tour with Google Street View, or explore virtual galleries on the British Museums website. The museum has a podcast, audio tours and even encourages you to “Get Geeky on YouTube.”
- The Vatican Museum – Vatican City (Rome) – The Vatican offers 14 different 3D tours of the Vatican itself. You can browse through areas from Raphaels Rooms to the Sistine chapel. Choose your room, click, and go. You can tour the famed underground Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis, and all the various museums in Vatican City. In addition to online and 3D tours, you have the option of virtual reality tours (additional equipment needed) to feel even more like you are there.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York – The Met has put together “The Met 360⁰ Project,” which offers up six videos allowing visitors to virtually visit. According to the Met, “this series affords an access and a perspective typically unavailable to the public.” You can use your smartphone or computer, and if you have that VR headset, you can pull that out here as well.
- Rijksmuseum – Amsterdam – The Rijksmuseum is there with the Louvre using new technology to make its galleries available to the world. Head over to the App Store or Google Play to download your gateway to the museum’s famous works.
You can even have a Virtual City Tour
Tours By Locals is currently offering virtual tours of many cities with a live guide. From their site, “When you can’t physically travel, but want a chance to reach out and connect with a new destination, virtual guided tours are the perfect option. Chat with a local guide in real-time while you get an online cooking class, history lesson, walking tour, or driving tour.”
One such tour is titled “ Unusual Stories of Kyoto with a Japanese Ghost”
“Konnichiwa, After we check our connection and making sure we can hear and see each other, we will meet a ghost. She will teleport us to our start point, Kanawa, well in Kyoto.
Through the video, you will feel the eerie atmosphere of Kyoto after-dark. Wander between narrow historical streets in Gion (Geisha District).
Then visit spooky shrines, cursed areas, and the oldest graveyard of the city. Be ready to hear the spine-chilling stories and the legends behind…”
This tour is currently offered at $55.00, lasts one hour, and you can have up to 6 users. These tours are all done via an internet connection like Zoom, so you will need to reasonable access to the internet.
The best thing here is that after your virtual tour, ToursbyLocals will apply 100% of the cost to a future IRL tour booking!
Throw a Travel-Themed Dinner Party When You Can’t Travel
Now that you have your TV Shows, Movie, Book Club, or Virtual Tour all set up. Cook or have food delivered that is local to your favorite destination and throw a dinner party!
You and your friends can make it a theme night. Practice your newly acquired language skills, dress in local garb, and watch your choice of video to bring it all home.
Use the Down Time to Train For Your Future Travels
Are you looking forward to climbing the ruins of Machu Pichu, like I am? Consider working with a trainer to build up stamina and strength for all that hiking. I haven’t quite figured out how you simulate the elevation (nearly 8,000 feet) yet. But if you are in Denver, the Mile High City, you are almost there!
Planning a trip to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef? This one usually means you will be swimming, snorkeling, and maybe even diving (scuba). You don’t need an ocean to learn to deep-water dive — a community pool will do, and many offer scuba certification classes.
Want to walk the Thames Path? (Quite a popular walk, I understand.) This long-distance walking trail runs for 184 miles (294 Km) from the Cotswolds to the heart of London. The path is gentle but really long. If you take the recommended 14 days, you average 13 miles each day. Walking 13 miles one day is not so bad, but doing so 14 days in a row is a different thing altogether. You may want to build up to it.
Wanderlust Still Got You Down? Start Planning Your Next Trip (or two)
You can make new plans even if you can’t travel right now. It’s a great time to take advantage of low rates and good cancellation policies.
If you need to work on getting points for free travel on your credit card, you have time to build up your points.
Get out those guide books and maps and put together your dream itinerary. Remember, the anticipation of a trip, the planning, and arranging, can be as fun as the journey itself. Think positively, we’ll all be on the road sooner than you can imagine.