From cooking a dish from your favourite country, to watching a foreign film or binge-watching some travel documentaries, here are some ideas of travel experiences you can have from the comfort of your home.
We’re living in a pretty extraordinary time right now. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is the world’s biggest global health crisis of our lifetime. The virus is affecting our health, our economies and of course, our travel plans.
While I’d love to be able to wave a magic wand and make it all go away, it’s impossible. It’s time to sit tight, be respectful and careful, and plan for the future.
Working in the travel industry I’m witnessing the effects of the crisis first-hand. My website traffic has halved as people aren’t travelling or planning trips. Hotel and tour bookings are down, and many that were taking place over the next few weeks have been cancelled. Some of my upcoming travel campaigns have been postponed until later in the year. My income is taking a hit, but it’ll be nothing compared to hotels and tour operators in places like China and northern Italy. It’s devastating to think about the businesses that won’t make it through this… and it’s not over yet.
I know a lot of you are also in limbo too. Plans are on hold for the foreseeable future… but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a travel experience of some sort, in your home! I’m not talking about cranking your heating up, putting on a bikini and pretending you’re in the Caribbean (although you could try that!)
From cooking a delicious meal from a far-flung destination, to learning a language and enjoying some amazing travel documentaries, whether you’re self-isolating, or just waiting until travel restrictions are lifted, there are plenty of ways to give yourself a ‘travel experience’ from the comfort and safety of your own home.
14 Ways To ‘Travel’ Without Leaving Home
Cook a meal from a foreign country
One of my favourite things about travelling is the food. Nourishing bowls of Japanese ramen, silky Italian pasta, spicy Thai curries, Mexican tacos… the list goes on. What better way to enjoy a flavour of a destination in your own home, than by getting busy in the kitchen.
I’m constantly coming across great recipes online. BBC Food is a great starting point – type in pretty much anything and you’ll find a recipe. Oh, and if you’re in quarantine right now at home, remember you can get your shopping delivered to your door!
For something a bit different, I’d recommend checking out The Spicery – a subscription box website, which delivers recipe kits through your letterbox. I ordered a curry subscription for Macca for Christmas, and each month a box arrives with a recipe and all of the spices to cook up an incredible feast. You just need to buy the main ingredients (meat, veg etc).
The thing I love is that they’re not standard dishes you’ll have tried before. Last month we made a curry from a specific region of Northern India, and our next is this potsticker recipe set from China’s Sichuan Province.
Another option is a company like Feast Box, which I’m hoping to try soon (I’ll let you know what I think!). This company specialises in world food recipe boxes, delivered to your door, and includes all of the ingredients (meat, veg, spices etc). Dishes on the menu this week include Indonesian fish in a banana leaf, chicken empanadas and harissa and vegetable flatbreads, so it’s a lovely way to eat your way around the world.
Oh, and if you want to go the extra mile, invite a few friends over, pop up some decorations, or ask everyone to wear an outfit that fits with the cuisine. I’ve got a sombrero you can borrow!
Binge watch some travel documentaries
Whether you have a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription, or access to BBC iPlayer, you’ll find plenty of TV shows to satisfy your wanderlust. I absolutely adore the travel series Simon Reeve makes for the BBC. He gets under the skin of the destinations he visits, meeting locals and finding out the real issues people are dealing with. It won’t necessarily make you want to book a trip to where he is, but it’s a great way of understanding the world.
Other travel TV shows I’d recommend include Planet Earth and Seven Worlds, One Planet (can’t beat Attenborough), Anthony Bourdain’s shows (lots on Amazon Prime) and Race Across The World (BBC – loved series one and series two has just started).
A feel-good documentary film that I really enjoyed was Craigslist Joe, which follows a guy’s journey as he travels across America living off people’s generosity. It’s all about human connections, but it’s essentially about travel too.
Or if like me, you travel with your stomach, I’d recommend Street Food, Ugly Delicious and Chef’s Table (all on Netflix). Now that list should keep you going!
Print out your favourite travel photos or make a scrapbook
What better way to reconnect with your travels than to go look back through your adventures one photo at a time. I have a few travel journals from my first backpacking trips, which have tickets, photos and mementoes stuck in. As I get older, they’re lovely to flick through and remember all the little details and the people I met along the way.
With everything online, we rarely print photos these days, so choose your fave snaps and pop them in frames or a scrapbook to look back at later in life. You can upload to a website like photobox and they’ll print them and post them to you.
Watch a foreign film
South Korean movie Parasite is one of the most talked about films of 2020, and it’s brilliant! Very funny – I found myself giggling a lot of the way through it. The fact it’s in Korean only adds to the experience. It’s transports you into a different country’s culture, and the language only adds to that.
Order a take away
Ok, this is the lazy option for those who want a travel experience at home, but don’t want to put much effort in! I’d recommend looking at your local takeaways and trying something brand new. If you usually order from the same Indian restaurant, how about trying Nepalese or Vietnamese food instead?
I’ve just had a quick check to see what’s available in my area of London and was amazed to see over 45 different cuisines listed! Isn’t that incredible? Everything from Filipino and Turkish, to Iranian, Vietnamese and Syrian. It might not be good for my bank balance, but I guess I’m saving money by not travelling at the moment!
Read a travelogue or a book that is set abroad
After finally switching from paperback books to a Kindle last year, I’m happy to say it goes absolutely everywhere with me. It’s liberating to have access to so many different books at the click of a button – perfect if you’re in quarantine right now and need some entertainment.
How about reading a travel-themed book? Somewhere that shares an epic journey or is set somewhere exotic? Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, here are a few to start you off…
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Anything by Bill Bryson
Step By Step – Simon Reeve
Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
The Beach – Alex Garland
Love With A Chance Of Drowning – Torre DeRoche
Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town – Paul Theroux
Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
Anything by Levison Wood
Tracks – Robyn Davidson
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Learn a foreign language using an app
Ever since my first trip to Mexico, I dreamed of learning Spanish. How special to be able to converse with the locals and no doubt it’d help with tricky travel planning too. When I went backpacking I enrolled in Spanish school for a month and learned a lot of the basics.
My first steps in learning Spanish? Via the app Duolingo. I think it’s a brilliant way to start building up some vocabulary and basic phrases. The app is free, and has courses in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Hindi, Korean, Greek and more!
Watch YouTube videos from your favourite travel vloggers
YouTube is a great place for travel inspiration. Before I travel somewhere new, I often watch a few videos to get an idea of what it’s like. Even if you’re not travelling right now, watching videos is a great way to transport yourself to your dream destination.
One of my favourite channels for inspiration is Benn TK. His videos are so cinematic and beautifully filmed. Watching them makes me want to hop on a plane!
For the perfect mix of travel and food, check out my pal Shu’s channel or for backpacking around the world, Christianne a.k.a Backpacking Bananas will give you some serious wanderlust. I’ve got tonnes of others I could recommend too – so many of my friends are so talented when it comes to capturing a destination on camera, but start with those and email me if you want some more suggestions.
Oh, and don’t forget my own videos, right here on my YouTube channel.
Immerse yourself in the music of another destination
This is actually one of my favourite ways to get ready for a trip, but there’s no reason you can’t do it when you’re staying at home too. Did you know that Spotify has top charts for countries around the world?
Just go to Browse, then select Charts and you’ll see the top 50 songs in each country. Enjoy the top reggaetón hits in Mexico, find out what’s hot in Thailand, and which artists the people of Poland love right now. Maybe you’ll discover a foreign artist you absolutely love?
Oh, and if the top 50 isn’t doing it for you, I’d recommend Buena Vista Social Club for some Cuban holiday vibes from the comfort of your home.
Research your dream trip on your fave travel blogs
So some of your travel plans may be on hold, postponed, cancelled or err, completely uncertain… but we can still dream and plan. With free time on your hands you can spend time researching everything you could possibly need for your next holiday, and be ready to act as soon as things go back to normal. You might even scoop a great deal.
You can check out my Destinations page to find travel guides for all the amazing places I’ve travelled to. I’d also recommend looking at my Travel Inspiration page if you you’re still deciding where to go.
We’ll be heading away on a honeymoon at the end of 2020, so I’m starting to research ideas for that while I have some extra time on my hands.
Visit a top museum or gallery… virtually
Did you know that some of the world’s most famous galleries and museums have virtual tours? Wander the curvy interior of New York’s Guggenheim Museum using Google Street View or take a trip past the mummies and the rosetta stone in London’s British Museum. The Louvre in Paris also has a special virtual tour option on its website here.
The best part? No queues or tourists getting in your way! And you can visit in your pyjamas…
Tour the planet using Google Earth
When was the last time you looked at Google Earth? For me it was several years ago… I think when it launched! However, it’s a seriously cool tool, and gives you the opportunity to travel around the world from home.
Click on the ‘Voyager’ tab to see interesting categories in more detail – everything from learning about a specific destination, to taking a tour of literary locations around the world.
Alternatively, hit the ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ button and be virtually transported to random destinations across the planet.
Have a go at making something from a different country
One of the things I’ve loved most on my travels has been creating something to bring home. Whether that was trying batik painting in Indonesia, or learning how to make goat’s cheese in Norwich a few weeks ago. It’s a lovely way to connect to a culture.
If you’re looking for things to try at home (especially if you’ve got kids to entertain), how about one of these…
Buy a sushi kit and learn how to make sushi
Buy some masks and decorate them in the style of Mexico’s Day of the Dead
Make a Japanese hand fan
Try your hand at calligraphy
Create your own dreamcatcher
Mix up some exotic cocktails
At tough times I often turn to my shelf of Caribbean rums. They definitely help ease the pain! If you want to feel like you’re travelling, without leaving home, how about mixing up some tasty cocktails from around the world?
Lots of destinations have a famous signature drink, so you could try a different one each week! Here are a few suggestions to get you started…
Mojito, Daiquiri and Cuba Libre – Cuba
Pisco Sour – Peru
Bellini – Italy
Sangria – Spain
Caipirinha – Brazil
Manhattan and Tom Collins – New York, USA
Dark N Stormy – Bermuda
Singapore Sling – Singapore
Sidecar – Paris, France
Margarita – Mexico
I hope this fun guide has given you some inspiration if you’re stuck at home or your travel plans have been postponed. Let me know if you have any more ideas I should add to the list!
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