You are stuck at home and you can’t travel.
There are dozens of reasons why you might be in this situation, from lack of funds, to daily obligations to family or job.
So what do you do when you are desperate to run off and see the world, but you’re stuck in one place for the time being?
Whether it is experiences you can have at home, the fun of preparing for your next trip, or travel on a small scale, there are a myriad of options to scratch the travel itch.
Try working your way through this list of techniques to give yourself a little taste of travel, and ease the wanderlust until you can get around to the real thing.
Create a bucket list of things to do right now while you are waiting for the circumstances to change and free you to travel again.
They say that a watched pot never boils. The more you focus on your impatience for something to happen, the longer it seems to take.
I experienced this very keenly in the last couple weeks of each of my pregnancies. But I discovered that I got through that phase a lot easier, once I created a to-do list that was a difficult to finish before the baby arrived. I treated it like a challenge!
You can do the same thing for travel, especially if your gallivanting has been only temporarily put on hold, such as for 6 months or a year.
Create a bucket list of experiences, of adventures, and new things you want to try. Only include things that are within your capability right now. Whether that be financially, time wise, or travel restrictions. Everything MUST be doable.
Make your list as long as you can, and then treat it as a challenge. Your goal is to do as many things on that list as you can before your next major trip.
Instead of agonizing as the days ponder slowly by, act like it’s a race against time to live as fully as possible.
Even better, chronicle your experiences in your journal, on social media, or on your blog. Not only can other people enjoy your adventures alongside you, but you can go back later and reread this time in your life, and re-experience it through memory.
Watch movies and documentaries set in your next destination.
You know that feeling when you watch a gorgeous movie or a stirring documentary set in a foreign place? That excitement and eagerness to go see those things with your own eyes, because you feel like you already experienced it a little bit. You can do that purposefully, and harness that experience to tide you over until you can see those things in real life
Movies and documentaries are just the first of a number of ways to vicariously bring travel into your life, but they are one of the easiest to access. A foreign experience with very little time investment.
With a few minutes of Googling, make a list of foreign movies, documentaries, and travel shows that you want to watch. Travel food shows are a fantastic way of seeing a snapshot of each area, showcasing the culture of an area.
You can pick a specific location and watch a wide range of things about it, seeing that locale from many different angles.
Read books that are set in your next destination.
If you prefer novels, this can give you a more immersive experience than watching movies. You can spend a few days or a week in the story, experiencing greater detail. You get to see the place through the eyes of the characters and live there with them for a bit. You can experience what foreign locales are like today, or a hundred years ago.
And if you look for books that were written for the local audience and then translated into your language, you can get an authentic glimpse into the culture.
If you aren’t a big fan of fiction, try biographies of famous people from that region. As you learn a more about their life, you get to see how the culture of the area wove through their experiences.
You can even use this to revisit places you’ve already gone. Since you are already familiar with the setting, the descriptions will bring back all the great memories of your experiences.
Google “books set in _” to find for your favorite destination.
Read some travel memoirs.
Travel memoirs are a hilarious and absorbing way to enjoy the travel vicariously. There are a gazillion of them out there, and they chronicle the highs, lows, and hilarious mishaps of other travelers.
Here are a some great ones that you can peruse to get you started. https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Travel-Biographies-Memoirs/zgbs/digital-text/154820011
Buy travel idea books or check them out of the library.
I have an Amazon wishlist solely dedicated to adventure-related books to get from the library. There are tons of absolutely gorgeous travel coffee table books filled with amazing photography. With your library card, you can have something new to drool over as often as you want. Here are a few to get you started. https://www.farawaylucy.com/travel-coffee-table-books/
Create a screensaver with images from your next destination.
A picture is a window to another place. Just like how looking through old photos can take you back to times past, photographs can take you to wherever you want to go. In fact some of the ones that make you feel most “there” are ones that aren’t the jaw-dropping once-in-a-lifetime shots, but the pictures of daily life that are what you’d see if you were standing there.
Make a folder on your computer of pictures of the place you want to visit next, then set your screensaver to play that folder. Instead of scrolling facebook when you are stressed, put in your earbuds, listen to relaxing music, and sip your coffee while you pretend you are there.
Zoom around on Google Earth.
Google Earth (https://www.google.com/earth/) is a fun toy when you want to be someplace else. You can “fly” over the area, examining the terrain, following roads or rivers along, and click on photos that people have uploaded of each spot.
I once used Google street view to “drive” from my house in Indiana, to a scenic little spot in Mexico. It was a fun evening!
Find webcams of places all over the world.
There are thousands of webcams up all over the world. Click on a link and you can see what’s happening right now, wherever you wish you could be. I’ve watched webcams of street life in Paris, and even a watering hole in Africa. There is something for everybody. It’s a great way to touch base with someplace far away over coffee each morning, or check out the casual nuances of everyday life.
Here are some to get you started on your search, (https://www.outsideonline.com/2412083/best-live-travel-webcams) or search “Best webcams around the world” to discover a dazzling selection.
You can even head over to https://window-swap.com/ and look out somebody else’s window somewhere in the world.
Take this opportunity to work towards lifestyle changes that will allow you to travel more.
Just as there are a wide range of reasons why you cannot travel as you would wish right now, there are also a wide range of solutions for how to eliminate or diminish the effects of those issues. This period of having your wings clipped can be a blessing in your life, if you view it as an opportunity to move strategically towards a life situation that better suits your travel goals.
If money is holding you back, you can move towards a location-independent career. Something that you can do from a computer, wherever you happen to find yourself.
Or you can move towards a job that requires travel. That way you get paid to visit other places, working during the day, and having the late afternoons and evenings to explore and enjoy each place.
Or if you love what you do, you can start investing a little time each day into a side stream of income that would offset the money lost by taking more unpaid vacation time.
There are a lot more options than a lot of people realize.
If responsibilities to people or animals tie you down, you can start working towards a situation where you have somebody you trust who can assume that mantle when you are away. If you don’t want to burden someone unnecessarily into doing constant favors for you, you can determine how much it would take to be able to pay someone to take over for you during your trips. With enough planning there is always a way.
If you aspire to a life that is primarily composed of travel, take this time to pare down what you own. If you are not attached to your current housing, minimizing your possessions enables you to store your things in a storage facility during six month or year-long treks, for much less expense than retaining housing. Not only that, but the less you have, the more time and energy you have to devote to your interests, so it pays off in the short run as well as the long run. Step by step, day by day, cull and declutter what you own until you only have the things you need and that truly brings you joy and pleasure. Curate what you own to the point where it best serves your individual lifestyle.
Work on planning your next trip.
Anticipation can be greatest part of the pleasure in something. You know what it was like as a child waiting and preparing for various holidays or school breaks or seasonal events.
Harness the pleasure of anticipation by preparing for your next trip. That can mean creating the perfect packing list that has everything you need while taking the fewest things possible.
It can mean reading articles on how to make travel to that part of the world easier, more comfortable, and what things you must experience to get an authentic experience of the region.
If you are going someplace that is significantly culturally different than where you live, read articles on what to do and what not to do in that location. That way you can learn from the mistakes of others.
Create a Pinterest board for your next trip and pin to your heart’s content. Organize it into sub-boards, and you’ll be able to find everything any time you need it.
Pinning ideas can be the best part of the trip prep!
Get your passport renewed, and research travel credit cards with reward miles.
It is easy to let things like renewing your passport wait until the last minute, which adds unnecessary stress and anxiety to the last months and weeks of your preparations. Instead, while you are stuck at home, take the opportunity to take care of these things now.
Interestingly, when you are prepared, opportunities tend to pop up out of the blue, that you could not possibly have anticipated.
Plus there is an excitement to knowing that you could up an leave with an hour’s notice, if you had the chance.
While you are doing your ahead-prep, you can take the time to research into travel credit cards, or ones that give reward miles. Many people leverage necessary expenses to entirely pay for their tickets and hotels for personal travel. It can be fussy and involved, but if you have the interest and the personality for it, you can dramatically reduce the cost of pleasure travel.
Work on an activity that you can do when you travel.
When you travel, it often feels like you are either bopping from one touristy activity to the next, or sitting in your hotel room killing time. Each of these is a little stressful in its own way.
One thing that can make your trips more enjoyable is to have hobbies and activities that you do at home, which you can take with you and do on location. Especially ones where either the locale adds new adventure to the activity, or the activity helps you experience the locale more deeply.
Fitness activities such as jogging or yoga are enhanced by doing them in new and novel surroundings. And activities such as learning how to scuba dive via a class (even if it is just at your local Y), or going hiking regularly, allow you to fully enjoy the opportunities available to you on your trip.
All of these are things that you do not want to try to take up for the first time on location, but would enhance your experience of the place if you already do them.
In addition, you want to make sure that you are physically fit enough to take advantage of all the adventurous opportunities you encounter. After all the work to be able to travel, you don’t want to have any regrets that you weren’t physically able to participate in that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Take weekend trips within driving distance of your home.
Even if you can’t travel all over the world or across the country, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel. For a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket, you can drive to a huge range of places. Plus going on overnight trips takes far less logistical planning and arranging, than a 1-2 week odyssey.
If you have two days off work back to back, your travel range can be a couple hundred miles in every direction. Even if you only can arrange one day, that circle becomes smaller, but still full of opportunities.
If your budget can accommodate it, scout for B&Bs instead of hotel rooms and you will have a richer, more exciting experience. If you are really strapped for cash, you can use car camping to shave down the cost of an overnight stay.
Once you establish how large of a range you have available with your current means, you can start searching for exciting travel opportunities in your own backyard. You’ll be amazed at how much there is to see within a few hours drive.
Visit local museums and galleries.
Museums and galleries in your state can feel like travel. They help you step outside of your daily life and into an alternate world. You can journey back in history or into other people’s imaginations.
If you aren’t a big fan of art, try something completely different than what you’ve experienced before. There is something out there for everybody.
The internet should be able to provide a wide range of museum and art gallery options within driving distance of you.
Go for picnics.
Half the fun of traveling is feeling like you are going on an adventure. If you can suffuse your daily life with little adventures, you can effectively hit the snooze button on your wanderlust (at least briefly).
Packing a picnic and finding some picturesque glamorous place to eat, offers that feeling of a little daily adventure.
Try to figure out what it is about travel that you are missing.
The last thing on this list is a little more introspective. Take some time to try to identify what you love best (and miss the most) about travel.
Is it escaping from your daily troubles?
Experiencing new cultures?
Living a version of life you prefer?
Once you know exactly what itch travel scratches for you, you can work on ways to incorporate that into your daily life at home.
This will not take the place of travel, but it will elevate your daily life and make it more emotionally satisfying for you. Make a list of all the things that you love best about vacations, what you look forward to ahead of time, and what you miss after you come home. Then start brainstorming ways to recreate that feeling in your day to day life.
Just because you can’t travel right now is no reason to stop having adventures and living to the fullest. If you focus on the many things you CAN do, rather than the one thing you can’t, you can enjoy a fabulous travel lifestyle regardless of your funds or life situation. It’s all there for the taking.