A lot of people kicked themselves for not getting trip insurance once the pandemic hit. In the height of the pandemic, the majority of airlines canceled over half of their flights, with over a dozen airlines suspending all flights entirely. That’s a lot of trips to the Bahamas, or London, or Miami, that just didn’t happen. Many hotels – including iconic ones like the Standard in West Hollywood – closed their doors for good due to the pandemic. Anyone who worked for or had investments in the travel industry suffered great financial loss during this time. And then there are those who perhaps didn’t take a great financial hit, but they did feel their souls suffer – the wanderlusts. If you rely on traveling in order to maintain your emotional wellbeing, the pandemic might have been really rough. And it isn’t over yet.
While some countries have been fortunate to see a rapid decline in cases this first quarter of 2021, some are seeing new spikes. The Czech Republic and Italy – two major European destinations for Americans – are struggling once again to keep cases down. So you may need to postpone some of those trips a bit longer. If you feel you just can’t take it anymore, you could probably benefit from some hacks and tips that help you scratch that wanderlust itch without getting on a plane.
Prepare for a future trip
A great way to feel connected to a culture when you can’t physically visit it is to learn all about it. If you’ve always wanted to visit a foreign country where few people speak English, and where the customs are very different from your own, this is the perfect time to learn. Take an online class to learn the language. Pick up books to learn all about the customs in the area, so you don’t have to be the clueless foreigner who is accidentally rude, or doesn’t know which part of the road to walk on, or dresses inappropriately. You’ll feel much more calm and confident, and therefore enjoy yourself more if you learn the language and the customs of a place before visiting.
Join a travel MeetUp group
You can join a MeetUp group for other wanderlusts stuck at home. Here, you can do all sorts of things, from sharing photos from your trips to planning future trips to take as a group, sharing links to virtual cooking classes for foreign cuisines, alerting one another to virtual events with speakers from other countries, and things like that. It’s a great place to continue to share ideas, memories, and plans with others who have the spirit of a traveler like you do. When things open back up, you can turn to this group for tips and advice about places you’ll be visiting.
Watch travel shows
It’s not the same as going to the place, but watching travel shows can kind of take you there. In addition to the major network ones that cover the big destinations, you can find more niche shows that go to remote corners of the world, in which the hosts truly immerse themselves with the locals. Travel shows can also help you discover new places you’d like to visit, that wouldn’t otherwise show up on major tourism sites. They also offer another way to learn about the customs in different areas. You can have a marathon in which you watch all shows pertaining to one country one day, and another the next, to feel you’ve fully immersed yourself.
Do a road trip
Choose a drivable destination to which you’ve never been and take a road trip. If you aren’t yet comfortable staying in hotels, you can bring a tent and go camping, or you can rent an RV if you’re more comfortable with more modern accommodations. This is also a great time to rent an RV for a long stretch of time and keep the trip going. If you’re able to work remotely, your RV can serve as your transportation, hotel room, and home office, while you travel the country, safely within your hygienic ride. Renting an RV also gives you the option to visit friends, without having to stay inside of their homes. Park on their properties (you save on RV park fees that way, too) and hang out with them in their yard.
Staycation at an AirBnb in town
If you aren’t quite yet comfortable with the crowds at hotels but want to get out of your usual dwelling, consider staying at an AirBnb in town. Maybe there is an area of your city that you love but can’t afford to rent in, like a beach-front community or neighborhood tucked away high up in the hills. If you find an AirBnb there, you can experience what it is like to live there for a few days, without committing to a lease. You can see what it’s like to walk a few days in the shoes of those who live in the more upscale parts of your city.
Camping can be a safe way to travel with friends now. You can meet at a gorgeous, remote location and enjoy some of the benefits of being in nature. Set up your tents at least six feet apart for social distancing, and enjoy some time in the great outdoors together, cooking over open fires, hiking, and looking at the stars. If you have the appropriate gear and supplies, you can stay out there for a while. As an alternative, you can go camping in a friend’s backyard or invite friends to go camping in your backyard if you don’t have a drivable campsite, but want quality time together.
Research a future trip
Rarely in life do we have the proper time to dedicate to planning a trip. You frantically book your tickets and hotel between a busy work and social schedule. Only once the trip is upon you do you ask the concierge at your hotel where you should go and what you should see. You can feel desperate, fearing you’re missing out on the best sites because you didn’t do your research in advance. Now you can. While you’re stuck a home, you can play travel agent for yourself, researching the really special things to do and see on your next trip, and even researching the best deals on these to save you money.
Virtually visit museums
The iconic Louvre in Paris is currently offering virtual tours, as is the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The beauty of visiting these locations virtually is that you can map out your plan for when you visit them in person. Going to a museum for the first time can be overwhelming, as you can feel there’s more to see than there is time to see it. Attending one virtually can help you strategize for when you go in real life, and many virtual tours are free. There are also some non-traditional destinations offering tours right now, like a research center at NASA, or the Google Arts Project which lets you tour corners of the White House.
Visit a “Little” country in your city
Depending on where you live, there may be a miniature version of other countries, right there in your city. In Los Angeles you have Koreatown and Little Ethiopia. In New York you have Little Italy and Chinatown. Many large cities have populations that have built up rich and immersive communities where you can find grocery markets carrying their international food, and where you might even mostly hear a different language spoken. Just park your car in one of these areas and experience an afternoon there – shopping in a market, grabbing some lunch, and enjoying a café. It might feel like a visit to the real place.
FaceTime with a foreign friend
If you have friends who live in other countries you’d love to visit, arrange a FaceTime or some sort of video chat with them. You can agree that each of you will set up shop at an attraction where you live – maybe you hike to the Hollywood sign and your friend in Paris sits at the Eiffel Tower – and you can video chat from there. Reverse your cameras, walk around, and give each other a real-time virtual tour. It’s a great way to catch up with friends who live around the world, while living vicariously through them for a moment.