We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.
We see you, pulling out your passport to flip through the pages longingly. Scrolling through those Instagram photos, reliving your favorite adventure. Being sheltered at home is the safest choice right now, but for traveling souls, it can feel like we will never secure our bags in the overhead compartment again. And while the four walls of home may be the world we are living in (for now), there are still many possibilities to explore the world — and get inspired for your next adventure. Here are five ways a passionate traveler can inspire wanderlust from home.
Travel the World through Your Taste Buds
One of the great joys of traveling is discovering delicious and different foods along the way. The first funky taste of sai ou, grilled over a roadside brazier in northern Thailand. The shatter sugary crisp of a chocolate-dipped churro in Mexico City. Food makes the journey — and can be recreated (albeit sometimes a little imperfectly) at home.
If your soul cries for Italy, it’s time to make some pasta. (These YouTube grandmas can help.) Chinese? This English-language channel will put you right to wok. Always longed to visit Iran? Cook your way through Bottom of the Pot’s Persian recipes until you can turn out a perfect tahdig. The internet abounds with local cooks happy to share their cuisines and cooking tips, and (almost) any ingredient can be procured online if unavailable locally. To take your tapas to a higher level, check out Spanish grocery La Tienda. Or let a subscription box service such as Try The World bring you a sampling of global goodness. Mangia!
Brush Up on Your Language Skills
Learning a new language is not easy, but being able to communicate even at a basic level makes travel that much more enriching — and locals almost always appreciate even the most fumbling efforts. (And then, there’s France. But still.) For professional level fluency, Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone may be the right investment. (Psst: the Foreign Service Institute offers a lot of the same stuff for free.)
Picking up a few phrases for fun? Memrise makes it a breeze. Mango is another go-at-your-own-pace fun option, and free from many public libraries. But whether you splash out with a pricey course or spend ten minutes a day on Duolingo, the time you take now will go a long way on your next journey.
Dream Up Your Next Adventure
Whether it’s next month or next year, the next trip will come. Planning your next dream adventure is a welcome escape, to be sure, but it’s more than a way to pass the time. Really digging into the details can make your next journey as magical and as smooth as the Silk Road you’ve always wanted to travel.
Use this time to expand your bucket list beyond Bali and Barcelona, and research more under-the-radar and less-touristed (but no less magnificent) destinations. And as long as you read the fine print very carefully, this is the time to take advantage of the flexible booking and cancellation policies that airlines, hotels and other travel businesses are offering to entice you on future trips. So pull up the maps and virtually book the best way to Bazaruto. When the time comes, you’ll be ready.
Up Your Shutter Skills
Landscape shots may be out of reach for the moment, but that’s no reason not to up your photography skills now. Whether you’ve got a DSLR, a camera phone, or something in between, online photography courses have got you covered. For aspiring pros, Nikon classes cover all the bases. To improve your phone photos — for free — check out Shaw (they're offering a free four-week trial) or follow iPhone Photography on Facebook. Take the time to polish your shooting and editing efforts, and the shots you bring back after quarantine will be professionally frame-worthy.
On that note, the extra hours many of us have while on lockdown present an excellent opportunity for organizing the thousands of photos that are probably cluttering up your cloud storage. After you choose your favorites, why not create a souvenir book to bring back memories without spending more time on a screen? Shutterfly or Snapfish are a great place to start.
Take a Hike ... Virtually
Some of the world's most famous places — from renowned cultural institutions to iconic national parks — have opened their digital vaults, providing a new way to engage visitors as well as a much-needed respite from the news. The Louvre without crowds? Yes, please. In the Netherlands, 360-degree tulip tours let you almost smell the spring blossoms. Enjoy the awe-inspiring aurora borealis with a live-stream of the northern lights. Get up close and personal with endangered mountain gorillas in Congo and Uganda. Or chill with the fish in Chicago's Shedd Aquarium Underwater Beauty webcam. Even from home, the world is still there for the watching — and inspiring us all the more to get out and explore it in person on our next trip.