Now is a very uncertain time for much of the world, and travel simply isn’t an option for most people, including myself. Even dispite the current global health crisis, there are all sorts of reasons why you might be unable to travel at any given time. Good news for you – you can still see the world from your sofa! Whether you’re in isolation or simply broke as hell, I’ve put together some next best alternatives for travel lovers stuck at home – your ultimate guide to fuelling your wanderlust when you can’t travel!
Take a Virtual Tour of Some of the Worlds Best Museums
Thanks to modern technology, you don’t even need to set foot outside of your house to be cultured! Google Arts & Culture has a whole directory of world class museums and art galleries for you to peruse from the comfort of your bed or sofa. You can wander round various collections using Google Street View technology, watch a 360 guided YouTube tour, or just browse the archives of famous museums like the MET, Musée D’Orsay, the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Ever Wondered Which Famous Artwork You Look Most Like?
Me neither…until now. But hey, I f you download the Google Arts & Culture App, you can take a selfie, which it then compares to various international artworks. Here are my two least flattering (and bizzare) comparisons for the lols:
Take Some Time to Focus on a Passion
Now is a perfect time to build on your hobbies and passions. For me that’s travel blogging, so I’m spending time on the design of my blog, fixing niggles and just writing. Whether you love to paint, write, draw, read or dance, immerse yourself in it and look for ways you can do it more often in the future. If you love reading, read books about destinations you want to visit, if you love art paint your favourite travel memory.
Learn a New Language
What better a skill to learn as a travel lover than a new language? Always wanted to visit Spain? Learn the basics from your computer. Had to cancel a trip to Japan? Become a Japanese expert for when you’re finally able to get there! I had hopes of living in Japan teaching English as a foreign language and had always planned to learn some of the language but didn’t make the time. Now I have A LOT of time, I have no excuse. Really, being unable to travel is a great thing for productivity – it takes away that excuse for not doing all those things you wanted. Take that online course, clean the house, read that book! YouTube is pretty good if you just want to learn some basic phrases for travelling with, but if you want something a bit more intensive, here’s a complete guide to learning a new language.
Go on virtual Safari with Animal Cams
Want to disconnect from real life for a minute and see what’s going on in the natural world? On Explore.com you can watch live nature and animal cams in national parks, zoos, sanctuaries and cameras out in the wild or under the sea. You can be instantly transported to the ocean, an African safari and even watch the northern lights on hundreds of live cams! Personally, I spent the moments after I woke up today watching polar bears in Canada wrestling in the snow, what a cute awakening! Outside Online has ranked the best animal cams for you if you need some inspiration!
Work on your Travel Bucket List
Now may not be a good time for you to travel, but who says you can’t stock up on inspiration for later? If you’re looking for some wintry wanderlust ideas, check out my Iceland Winter Bucket List, complete with tips for the Northern Lights (if it’s not on your bucket list yet, it should be)! Reading travel blogs and browsing Pinterest are the best ways to get that inspiration and fuel your wanderlust when you can’t travel.
Take a Course
Why not use this time to expand your horizons and educate yourself? Whatever your passion is, there’ll be a course out there for you. You can take courses in photography, writing, languages – literally anything, but why not learn something that you can use to travel with in the future?
I want to take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. I can use to make money online teaching (yes, it’s a thing!), and when I the world is back to normal, to earn money whilst travelling. Teaching English online is a great way to travel the world whilst still earning, and one favoured by many digital nomads.
Trek the World Through Google Maps
Did you know that you can virtually tour wonders of the world like the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and Petra, Jordan via Google maps? Me neither, until now! Previously my experiences with google maps involved heavily relying on and being glued to it when I travel. Now that I know I can use it to virtually travel to the Galápagos Islands, I love it a lot more! Watch some of their entrancing destination videos to spark your wanderlust when you can’t travel. I had hoped my next stop to be the US, so it’s comforting to know that I can virtually explore the National Parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
Connect With Nature
*If, and only if* it’s safe for you to do so, go for a walk or run in your local park. Take the dog for a walk in a local woods you haven’t yet explored. Whether it’s a public park or you’re lucky enough to live near the beach or countryside, make the most of the nature on your doorstep.
Watch some Travel Inspired Films
Shake up your Netflix list and watch some travel inspired movies. Whether it’s a foreign film, a series like Game of Thrones with filming locations in Ireland, Iceland and Croatia, or a full Eat Pray Love, you can still soak up some travel inspiration from the sofa.
I loved this list of the best travel movies to watch by Travel or Die Trying, and Rough Guide’s list of the best filming locations to visit around the world. Films can really help to cure that wanderlust when you can’t travel. Movies that have really inspired me to visit a destination include Brooklyn and Lost in Translation.
Explore Closer to Home
Even if you can’t catch a flight, you can still explore where you are! As soon as lockdown ceases in the UK I’m eager to explore more of my local city as a tourist. Living somewhere for a long time, it’s easy to overlook nooks and crannies and those gems that have been there all along because you’re not in explore mode like you are when you visit a new country or city. Give it a go, your hometown might surprise you with fun things you didn’t even know were there and give you that exploring buzz you get from travelling in between trips.
Read a Book
I love to read when I get into it, and think it’s one of the best things for motivation and inspiration if you’re feeling a bit stuck. I do, however, struggle to get into a book and may just be the world’s slowest reader (seriously, ask my family). Because of that, I tend to avoid it, but being inbetween trips seems as good a time as any to delve back into the infinite supply of literary inspiration and wanderlust out there. Travelling Ness has written a great list of the best books for those with itchy feet!
I wouldn’t exactly call it a travel book, as it’s set in a war zone, but my favourite book with an international setting is Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimanda Ngozi. It tells engrossing stories of the impact of civil war from the perspective of people from different tribes and financial backgrounds during the Biafran war in Nigeria in the 60s.
Watch a Documentary
Another way to get your wanderlust fix when you can’t travel is by watching nature and travel Documentaries
For views into the natural world, an obvious favourite is Planet Earth, or really anything narrated by David Attenborough! Netflix currently have an amazing selection from BBC Earth, including Blue Planet, Wild Alaska, Frozen Planet and of course Planet Earth.
A new found favourite of mine is Spy in the Wild. It’s a slightly different take on animal documentaries that places spy cams made to look like animals in with varies species in the wild around the world. There have been seal cams, turtle cams, alligator cams and even bird drones! The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking but another draw is laughing at some of the cams. I applaud whoever is skilled enough to create these and some of them are amazing, but on the other hand some of them are pretty laughably awful! But as long as the animals don’t notice eh? Currently only a few episodes are available on BBC iPlayer, but there are also lots of clips on BBC Earth’s YouTube channel, including this video of dolphins playing catch with a puffer fish!
There are so many interesting travel Documentaries to watch whilst your next holiday is pending, from the serious, compelling watches to more comic offerings like An Idiot Abroad or Jack Whitehall’s Travels With my Father. I’m a big fan of the latter kind of travel show, and can highly recommend Romesh Ranganathan’s Asian Provocateur (on a Netflix) and my favourite, Travel Man.
If you haven’t heard of it Travel Man is a comedy travel show where Richard Ayoade (Moss from the IT Crowd) takes a comedian companion to a different city for a packed mini break in each episode. They have been to some amazing places including Iceland, Amsterdam, Bergen, Milan & Krakow. You can watch full episodes on All 4, which is only available in the UK, or watch clips on YouTube.
Writing is a great way to express yourself and unleash your inner creativity, even if no one else ever gets to read it! You could write a journal, for example. I’ve found bullet journaling to help me through some difficult times and make me realise the positive things in my life and what I’m grateful for. You can even incorporate past travels or travel goals and plans into bullet journalling.
You could also write a retrospective travel journal of all the places you’ve been and relive the memores. I love illustrative designs for different locations and would love to produce something like that, as someone who’s an avid doodler.
Or start a blog, like I’m doing! It’s obviously a trying time for travel bloggers at the moment, with fewer and fewer people being able to travel. I’m of the mindset that if you’re passionate about something it’s worth doing regardless of the obstacle, so don’t be deterred if any niche of blogging is something that interests you.
Save Money for Your Next Trip
Eventually, you world will be your oyster again, but in the meantime, save those pennies. This will come naturally with going out less, and focusing on ways you can work on yourself without leaving the house or breaking the bank. Think of this as a great chance to top up your travel fund.
Connect with your International Friends
Skype those close friends you haven’t seen for ages and share a drink whilst you catch up and find out about the what is going on where they are. Situations like these can bring us closer to people in the strangest ways. Just look at the latest “On-Nomi” trend in Japan, which essentially involves drinking with friends over Skype! You don’t even have to be across the world; you could be across the streefor all I know, but check in and support each other! Thanks to the wonderful invention of the internet, there are so many creative ways to connect with our loved ones when they’re miles away, including multiplayer games, book clubs and more!
Thanks for Reading!
I hope you enjoyed this fun post on the next best alternatives to travelling when you can’t leave the country (or maybe even the house)! Stay safe and stay home!