We all experience times when we are unable to travel. But now with so many cities and states initiating “lock downs” or “shelter in place” orders or whatever name you would like to attach; isolation is sure to set in for some of us. We are all likely to feel a bit stir-crazy from time to time. And as travelers we are sure to be struck by wanderlust.
While it is disappointing to not be able to travel at this time, there are some ways we can quell our wandering spirit, as well as provide self-care in these unusual times. Here is a fairly expansive list of ideas.
NOTE: Before doing any of the things suggested here, check with your national, state and local authority about any restrictions that may be in place which prohibit these activities.
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Practicing social distancing does not mean you can’t leave your house. It means you need to not congregate. Take this opportunity to get outdoors. The fresh air will help keep away the stir-crazies.
Take your yoga outdoors – Grab your yoga mat and head to the beach, a mountaintop or wherever you find solitude with nature.
Go for a Walk/Hike – Use common sense with this one. Don’t go into any parks that have been closed to the public and if the restrooms are open you may want to avoid those as well.
Get out on the water with your kayak – If you can even get a rental kayak right now, that is probably not the thing to do. But if you own your own, toss it on top of the SUV and head to the water. Always use caution when kayaking alone.
Take a Roadtrip to No Where – There’s nothing preventing you from taking a drive to the countryside or some other scenic destination. Hop in the cars, wind down the windows, turn up the music and enjoy your favorite playlist.
Use care with all of these things. Avoid making unnecessary pit-stops along the way. While it might be tempting to say, “let me just run in here,” that defeats the purpose of social distancing.
Catch Up on Your Favorite Travel Flix
Someone in a Facebook group asked members to suggest their favorite travel movies. I followed along to see the responses. There were some of the expected responses such as Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love. But there were some unexpected answers as well. Here is a list I have compiled from those responses and around the internet.
The Mummy – 1999 – Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz – A Group of people searching for a long-lost treasure in the desert of Egypt unleash a 3000 year old curse.
The Davinci Code – 2006 – Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou – Based on the Dan Brown novel, the film is set in France but takes us to London, Rome, Scotland and more.
A murder in Paris’ Louvre Museum and cryptic clues in some of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings lead to the discovery of a religious mystery. For 2,000 years a secret society closely guards information that — should it come to light — could rock the very foundations of Christianity.
The Talented Mr Ripley – 1999 – Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow – Set in Italy in the 1950s, this is a dark tale of a young underachiever, sent to Italy to retrieve a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy. But when the errand fails, he resorts to extreme measures.
Out of Africa – 1985 – Meryl Streep and Robert Redford – A well-off woman intent on being a dairy farmer travels to Africa to join her husband, who instead spends their money on a coffee plantation. After discovering he’s having an affair, she falls for a hunter but realizes he prefers a simplistic lifestyle compared to her upper class background. The two continue on until a series of events force her to choose between her love and personal growth.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – This came up over and over again in the Facebook group. I’ve never thought of it as a travel movie but it is an awesome adventure.
“Set in the 1930s, Indiana Jones, the quick-witted and hardy archaeologist goes on the hunt for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Often facing insurmountable odds, Indy always manages to succeed in the nick of time.”
The Way 2010 – Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez- An American father travels to France to retrieve the body of his estranged son, who died while attempting the pilgrimage to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela. In a combination of grief and homage to his son, he decides to walk the ancient spiritual trail where his son died, taking his ashes with him.
Safety Not Guaranteed – 2012 – Kristen BellAubrey Plaza Mary Lynn Rajskub – A disaffected magazine intern befriends an unusual guy, who is looking for a partner to accompany him on a trip back through time.
Catch me If You Can – 2002 – Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio – Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) who worked as a doctor, a lawyer, and as a co-pilot for a major airline — all before his 18th birthday. He’s a master of deception and a brilliant forger…At the age of 17, Abagnale became the most successful bank robber in US history. FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) makes it his prime mission to capture Frank and bring him to justice, but Frank is always one step ahead of him.
I really enjoy this movie. What I love so much about it is the way it depicts the glamorous early days of air travel. Back in the days of Pan Am and TWA. It’s a fun caper based on a true story with an awesome cast.
Murder on the Orient Express – 1974 – Albert FinneyLauren Bacall Martin Balsam and 2017 – Tom Bateman Kenneth Branagh Penélope Cruz – The Agatha Christi who-dunnit set on a train. When a passenger is murdered, everyone becomes a suspect.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – 2013 – Ben StillerKristen Wiig Shirley MacLaine – A film about an ordinary man who finds the courage to discover his destiny and leap into the adventure of life itself.
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – 2012 – Tom WilkinsonBill Nighy – A group of retired Brits, played by an all-star cast decide to move to India as a way of saving money and living a better life. When they arrive they discover what has been billed as an exotic palace is any thing but.
Julie and Julia – 2009 – The true stories of how Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) life and cookbook inspired a fledgling writer Julie Powell (Amy Adams) to whip up 524 recipes in 365 days.
Thelma and Louise- 1991 – Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis -Two women who embark on a crime spree across the American southwest ride to eternal infamy. They become literal partners in crime. This is an awesome road trip movie and chick flick rolled into one.
Visit an Online Museum or Zoo
I love the idea of visiting an online museum or zoo. However, I’m not going to spend a lot of time creating my own version of two awesome lists that already exist.
Heather Raulerson of RaulersonGirlsTravel.com wrote a piece covering the 20 Best Virtual Museums Around the World and Marcea Robinson Cazel of MyCornacopia has compiled a list of virtual zoos for you to visit while sequestered. Enjoy!!
Introduce Yourself to a Global Menu
The CDC and WHO are both still saying that ordering from restaurants and having it delivered is still an acceptable practice but to use caution. Well, why not order from your local Thai, Indian, Mexican, or Lebanese restaurants and have it delivered with GrubHub or UberEats. When I’m not able to travel to a destination I’m craving, sometime a taste of that country is enough to satisfy.
Another way to enjoy your favorite foods from around the globe is to try a new or favorite old recipe you’ve picked up during your travels. Not sure how to make Tahini or authentic Spanish Paella? My favorite place to find recipes is Pinterest. You can find just about anything there.
Read Some Awesome Travel Tales
You’ve probably found yourself with a bit of extra free time these days. Why not spend some of that time catching up on some reading. Here’sa a list of classic travel books to inspire your next adventure or just keep you dreaming.
Deep South by Paul Theroux – “Theroux explores a piece of America — the Deep South. He finds there a paradoxical place, full of incomparable music, unparalleled cuisine, and yet also some of the nation’s worst schools, housing, and unemployment rates… He talks to mayors and social workers, writers and reverends, the working poor and farming families — the unsung heroes of the south, the people who, despite it all, never left, and also those who returned home to rebuild a place they could never live without…Deep South is an ode to a region, vivid and haunting, full of life and loss alike.”
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux – “Theroux takes readers the length of Africa by rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train. In the course of his epic and enlightening journey, he endures danger, delay, and dismaying circumstances.
Gauging the state of affairs, he talks to Africans, aid workers, missionaries, and tourists. What results is an insightful meditation on the history, politics, and beauty of Africa and its people.”
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – “What starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a meditation on the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is art eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.”
On the Road by Jack Kerouac – “On the Road tells the story of two friends whose cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience…the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.”
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson – “a delectably funny, fact-filled and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity. Wherever Bryson goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging. They are the beaming products of a land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bryson its perfect guide.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson – “No book ever written has more perfectly captured the spirit of the 1960s counterculture.
In Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, Raoul Duke (Thompson) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (inspired by a friend of Thompson) are quickly diverted to search for the American dream. Their quest is fueled by nearly every drug imaginable and quickly becomes a surreal experience that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. But there is more to this hilarious tale than reckless behavior, for underneath the hallucinogenic facade is a stinging criticism of American greed and consumerism.”
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain – Twain’s “detailed narrative of a long excursion with a group of fellow travelers to the Holy Land shortly after the Civil War aboard the vessel Quaker City. The humorous account covers his visits to Paris, Italy, Greece, Egypt and the Holy Land. At times irreverent, it is always entertaining.”
Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre Deroche – “This sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and always poignant memoir is set against a backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations. Equal parts love story and travel memoir, Love with a Chance of Drowning is witty, charming, and proof positive that there are some risks worth taking.”
Explore Fun Travel Apps
I recently updated my phone to the Samsung Galaxy S10. By doing so I freed up a ton of space. With this new found storage, I went looking for some new travel apps. I found some fun ones. Here are a few I like.
I like Tripit. This one isn’t new for me as I have been using it for years but it does have some newer fun features. It will provide you statistics on a year by year basis. It can tell you how many days you’ve spent traveling, how many trips you’ve taken, countries and cities visited. They’ve recently added a new statistic feature which will tell you your carbon foot print.
Also, I find it to be a useful tool for keeping all my travel details in one place. I’ve also linked Bill to my account so I can figure out where he will be and when.
With the new phone, I started using Places Been. This one is like a scratch off maps for your phone. It allows you to mark off all the places you’ve been and tallies up the total number of continents, countries, states and cities. You can also designate places as “been,” “want” and “fav.” It allows you to track cultural sites as well. And it lets you collect country flags and places them on a world map. The paid version allows you to track airports and National Parks, too.
Journey is a fun travel app with tons of functionality. I get the impression with this one that it was originally designed to be a personal coach and journal. It still has those features but also has functions well suited to travel. It is a travel journal that allows you to geotag your entries and places them on an atlas. You can create photo journal entries and it keeps your calendar as well.
Buy Online from Around the World
When we travel we love to bring home trinkets to remind us of the places we’ve been. But if you can’t revisit places you’ve been or tick off the places on your bucket list, why not support them through purchases from fair trade global markets? Here are some online outlets that offer items from around the world.
Ten Thousand Villages – You may be familiar with Ten Thousand Villages and their brick and mortar locations. But since we can’t visit their physical store, why not order online.
The mission of Ten Thousand Villages is to “create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.”
Ten Thousand Villages offers home decor, jewelry, fashion, stationary, games and more.
Cost Plus World Market – To be honest I’m not sure how committed Cost Plus World Market is to fair trade. They have a long ethics policy but at a glance I didn’t see anything specifically related to it’s trade policies or partners. However, they do offer items that are verified fair trade, mostly in the food department. Other offerings include, home decor, pantry items, artisan gifts and more from around the world. You, of course, can decide whether they fit your standards.
Serrv – “Fighting global poverty through fair and ethical trade” since 1949. Their work in “25 countries worldwide…empower(s) over 8,000 artisans and farmers every year by selling their beautiful handcrafts.”
In looking at their website, I was impressed. They are the only company listed here that has specifically created policies surrounding COVID-19.
They offer a selection of quality home goods, food, garden and fashion from around the globe.
Plan an At-Home Spa Day
One of my favorite things to indulge in while travelling is spa time. Well, if you are in self-imposed (or not so self-imposed) quarantine why not treat yourself to an at home spa day.
A good soak is a wonderful way to begin any spa experience. I recently purchased some bath bombs that I absolutely love. When they first arrived, I thought what an awesome gift they would make. They come in a pretty box and present nice.
But more importantly they smell nice and make the water silky. Some bubble and even have inspirational messages.
If you don’t have a tub, convert your shower into a soothing or invigorating “steam room.” With just a single shower fizzie you’ve created an instant sanctuary.
I typically toss a fizzie with an invigorating scent such as, orange and ginger in with my morning shower. It helps get me going. But since you probably have a few extra minutes these days with not having a commute, why not make your shower a relaxing space.
If you are looking to save a bit of money during these difficult times but still want the experiences, try these for close to half the money.
And while you are having your shower splurge, why not take it up a notch with a Dead Sea Salt Scrub. Scrubs exfoliate all that old skin and leave your skin radiant.
Facials are not something I do on a regular basis, so when I have a spa day that includes a facial it’s a real treat. These are difficult times and we all deserve a bit of extra pampering. Get yourself some facial masks to complete your at home spa experience.
Listen to Travel Podcasts
I recently crowdsourced my Gen Xplorers Facebook group asking what they listen to on road trips. I specifically had music in mind but some shared their favorite travel podcasts. Personally, I’m not a podcast person because the times I might spend listening to them are the times I become most inspired and do my best thinking. But here’s their recommendations.
Amatuer Traveler with Chris Christianson – Chris is an award-winning photographer and travel blogger. Though I have not listened to the podcast I have heard him speak at blogging events. He’s in interesting speaker and writer so I imagine the podcast is quite good.
All the S**t I’ve Learned Abroad with hosts Steph Paige and Andrea Gillis, both Canadian expats. Their weekly podcast is based on their own travel experiences (good and bad!) ranging from losing passports, missing flights, and solo travel.
The Thoughtful Travel Podcast with Amanda Kendle – This is a podcast for travel-lovers. It’s packed with stories from fellow travel-addicts on topics like using foreign languages, meeting the locals, getting lost and what we learn from our travels.
Travel Fuels Life with Drew Hannush – The goal of this podcast is to “provide a show that encourages, educates, and inspires people who tired of deferring their dreams and are ready to develop a travel lifestyle.”
Research and Plan Future Travel
When I am unable to travel, planning future travel helps me curb the wanderlust. I’ve heard others say the same. It gives us something to look forward to down the line.
Also, let’s face, these travel restrictions are not going to go on forever. Now is the time to plan for future travel. Do your research, use your travel reward credit cards, and rack up the points. You may even be able to take a trip for FREE using those reward when this is all over.
I suspect when this is over, many people will cautiously begin to travel. I’m anticipating that when we come out of our isolation travelers will look to local and regional destinations to satiate their wanderlust.
When ready to take a big trip, I still like to use physical books for planning. Lonely planet offers lovely in-depth practical guides to most any destination you are dreaming of visiting. Not into physical guidebooks? Lonely Planet’s website offers oodles of free information to inspire your future travel.
Of course there are risks associated with planning now (but no risk with dreaming). If you are going to do this, you should probably look into travel insurance and more specifically a “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) policy.
Once you’ve weighed the risks you may be rewarded with some awesome savings. I’ve seen some excellent offers on Skyscanner. Right now it appears the further out you plan the better the deals. I saw roundtrip flights from EWR to CDG in October for under $300 RT.
Learn Second Language
Learning a language is one of those things many of us say we wish we had done or that we wish we had time to do. Here’s your opportunity. There are a bunch of apps and online courses to help you learn just about any language you choose.
Here are a few popular apps to try:
Duolingo is an American language learning app started by an Carnegie Mellon professor. They offer more than 30 languages.
Babbel is a German brand offering 14 languages including Swedish, Russian and Indonesian.
Rosetta Stone which is probably the most established company. They offer a free trial and a 30-day guarantee.
Additionally, check out your local library. Typically you can find free online courses.
Catch Up with Some Gen X Travel Bloggers
As you’ve seen in the news, the travel industry is really hurting right now. And travel bloggers are part of that sector. But unlike the airlines, hotel and cruise lines, we are small business owners who will not receive a bail out like the big guys.
I’ve compiled a list of awesome travel bloggers from Generation X. Hop to it and take a look.
I hope that this helps hold you over until you are able to travel again. But I would love to know how you cure your wanderlust when you are unable to travel. Drop your ideas in the comments.