15 Creative Ways to Feel Like You’re Traveling When You Can’t

Girl sitting at the top of table mountain at sunset overlooking Cape Town, South Africa
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Whether you’ve been working a full-time job with limited yearly time off or haven’t been able to afford trips in recent years, we all know what it feels like to wish we were off exploring distant lands while we’re stuck at home. And now more than ever we quite literally are being told to stay at home and avoid booking travel for the foreseeable future to protect ourselves and the ones we love.

For someone like me that loves nothing more than to travel and has built a business — and let’s face it, an identity — around exploring, the current state of the world is more anxiety-inducing and uncertain than ever.

But instead of focusing on the things I can’t change, I’m trying to brainstorm how I can scratch my travel itch without leaving the comfort of my own home.

In this post, I wanted to share some creative ways that you too can bring a little bit of that joy that comes with travel back into your life, even if a walk around the block is the closest you’re coming to adventure any time soon.

The reality is, there WILL be a time that we can all travel again. Until then, these tips and creative ideas should help you begin to think about how you can feel the excitement of travel right now, even when you’re not on the road.

Hand holding orange cocktail with fruit slice in front of hotel pool

Tip 1: Blend Up a Tropical Smoothie or Cocktail

I don’t know about you, but one thing that instantly transports me to vacation mode is a tropical cocktail or smoothie, usually involving heavy doses of mezcal and/or pineapple. If you close your eyes and sip on one of these delicious concoctions, you might even be able to imagine a white sandy beach before you and the soothing sounds of turquoise colored waves crashing at your feet.

To relive some of that island spirit, stock up on your favorite ingredients (from a local small business if you can) and try mixing up these refreshing tropical libations. Maybe throw on some Beach Boys and grab a bottle of suntan lotion and take a sniff if you need a little help with atmosphere 😉

Tropical Drink Recipes:

A wood desk with a journal, maps and coffee spread out on top.

Tip 2: Start Planning Your Future Dream Trip

Just because we can’t travel right now doesn’t mean there won’t be a time when we can travel again in the future, and now is the perfect opportunity to start dreaming up that next epic adventure.

Studies have shown that people are often happier in the planning stages and before they take a trip than when they are actually in the midst of it. We love the anticipation of adventure and right now is the perfect time to take advantage.

It doesn’t mean you have to book anything official, but beginning to gather inspiration and information, create mood boards on Pinterest and loosely map out your itinerary can go a long way in keeping you excited and hopeful for the future.

If you’re not sure where to get started planning your trip, check out my post on how to use Google Maps as a trip planner — it can be a really fun way to start collecting ideas for your next big adventure.

Tip 3: Follow and Support Some New Travel Creators and Bloggers

While it may feel pointless or even disheartening to search travel blogs and follow travel creators on Instagram during this time, this can be a great way to start gathering inspiration for future trips down the road.

Plus, the travel industry is suffering as a whole right now and could use your support more than ever. I know many industries are taking a hit from the current economic climate, but seeing as that no one can travel, our industry has taken a particularly steep nosedive.

If you want to spread support during this time, just take a few minutes a day or week to check out your favorite travel bloggers’ websites — it doesn’t cost you anything and can help them keep views up, which allows them to continue earning ad revenue and bringing you free content in the future!

Follow me on Instagram @Livelikeitsthewknd here!

Spotify profile screenshot with global music

Tip 4: Listen to Music From Around the World

The senses are one of the biggest ways to transport us to a place or recall past memories and for me, music is my #1 way to do this. Over the years traveling, I’ve Shazam’d obsessively and curated playlists from various trips that not only introduce me to new music around the world but bring back beautiful memories of adventures passed.

If you want to explore some of my favorite global-inspired tunes, I’ve currently got curated playlists to transport you to Cuba, India, Africa, and more.

Tip 5: Create a Photo Book With Images From a Past Trip

Recalling memories of past trips can be just as fun as planning a new one, and photo memory books can be one of the best ways to do this. If you have more time on your hands right now (which I’m willing to bet you do), one fun project you could work on is compiling a custom photo book through a company like Artifact Uprising.

They’ve always been my personal favorite because I think their books look so clean and chic. They have all kinds of different layouts and you can also turn your photos into other creative paper goods like prints and calendars.

Here’s another idea for you. More than ever, kindness and generosity go a long way, so right now might be the perfect time to gift a friend a photo book from a past trip together to put a smile on his/her face.

Here are a list of some websites where you can create your own custom photo books and gifts:

Tip 6: Get Lost in a Good Travel Book

Books are not only some of the best ways to transport us elsewhere, they’re also a great distraction in the bad times when we need a break from our worried brain. I’ve read an array of travel-themed books over the years, and below I’m breaking down some of my favorites:

  • Eat Pray Love – Duh. This memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert is on pretty much every travel-themed reading list for a reason and I’ve read it more times than I can count. If you haven’t already read this story of personal exploration through Indonesia, Italy and India, what are you waiting for?
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson is one of the most comedic writers in travel and all of his books are like a chronicle of trips gone wrong. This read about his adventures in Europe, featuring flashbacks to old trips in his college days, is a hilarious ode to European travel with cultural anecdotes that every adventurer will be able to relate to.
  • Shantaram – Simply put, this book is a wild ride. Following an Australian convict’s escape to India and his life integrating into life in Bombay, Shantaram is highly descriptive and will undoubtedly transport you to the chaotic streets and sensory experiences of life in India.
  • To Shake the Sleeping Self – One of my favorite more recent reads, To Shake the Sleeping Self is a memoir by Jedediah Jenkins, following his bicycle journey from Oregon all the way down to Patagonia. This is a truly beautiful and introspective story, sharing many thought-provoking topics on travel, religion, friendship, sexuality and more.
  • What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding – For all my fellow single ladies, this memoir by Kristin Newman is a hilarious account of many romantic and sexual escapades around the globe during her travels abroad.
  • Wild – For the adventurous spirit in each of us, Wild by Cheryl Strayed is a tale of bravery and taking the next step in life before you’re truly ready. I especially related to her experience recovering from loss, but in general, this book is a beautiful meditation on mother nature and how the wilderness can heal us all.
  • The Celestine Prophecy – More of a spiritual thriller than a travel novel, The Celestine Prophecy is one of my favorite books of all time. The book follows the fictional protagonist through an adventure in Peru in search of knowledge and spiritual wisdom and shares lessons that we can all incorporate into our daily lives.
  • Into the Wild – For anyone who has ever fantasized about hitting the open road in the American West without a plan, Into the Wild is a must read.
Girl looking at the Rosetta Stone language learning app on her phone

Tip 7: Practice Learning a New Language

Want to mimic the thrill of being thrown out of your comfort zone by a language barrier? The Rosetta Stone app is my favorite language learning app because it has ZERO English involved in the learning process. Yup, you read that correctly — every single lesson in the app uses conversation in the language you are trying to learn mixed with visual imagery and cues to help you immerse yourself faster.

We all have a little more time on our hands right now, and all it takes is just 30 minutes a day to start feeling more confident in a new language.

Check out Rosetta Stone here

Sushi takeout box.

Tip 8: Host a Themed Dinner Party at Home

Trying different foods from around the world is one of my favorite pasttimes, and it’s a great way to get to know a culture. Plus, now more than ever small businesses need our help.

Show your support by choosing a local ethnic restaurant and ordering takeout for a dinner party with your family at home. If you live alone or want to invite friends virtually, spread the idea and have everyone join via Zoom!

You can make it a global feast or stick to one theme and follow it up with an on-theme film viewing party and playlist to keep the spirit alive during dinner. Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Go Greek: Follow up your Greek feast with a showing of Mamma Mia!, Before Midnight or Bourne Identity.
  • Indian Feast: Some top movies to consider for your India themed night could be Lion, Gandhi or The Namesake.
  • Sushi Night: Order up from your local Japanese joint and watch Lost in Translation or opt for a Japanese anime film.
A plane wing in the clouds at sunset.

Tip 9: Start Earning Points and Miles for Future Trips

Now is the best time to brush up on your travel hacking knowledge and start earning points and miles while you’re stuck at home. We all know that the economy is uncertain at this time and even though we’re going to be itching to travel in the future, funds may make that difficult.

Earning points and miles is the best way to cut down on travel expenses and has personally allowed me to take countless free flights around the world. I truly wouldn’t have been able to travel to so many countries over the years without this strategy!

If you don’t know where to start with the points and miles game, check out my beginner’s guide to earning free flights with points and miles.

Read More Travel Tips Posts
How to Get Your First Free Flight in 6 Steps
11 Sleeping Tips for Overnight Flights That Are a Game Changer
14 Tips For Traveling to Hong Kong For the First Time

Tip 10: Binge Watch Travel-Themed Content on Netflix, YouTube, etc

A little silver lining of the current state of the world: there’s never been a more acceptable time to binge watch those favorite shows you’ve been meaning to devour.

While I’m not a huge TV watcher personally, I do have some favorite travel themed shows and movies (and some channels on YouTube) that will certainly transport you to another place, if only temporarily.

Travel Themed Movies:

  • Into the Wild
  • Eat Pray Love
  • The Motorcycle Diaries
  • Roman Holiday
  • Before Sunrise

Some Favorite Travel Shows:

  • Chef’s Table
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
  • Planet Earth

Favorite Travel YouTube Channels:

Tip 11: Add Some Travel Inspo To Your Space at Home

If you can’t be out exploring the world at this time, bring the world into your space. With sites like Etsy and Society 6 and FrameBridge, it’s easy to find beautiful travel prints to get framed for your home.

If you want some less expensive solutions to infuse wanderlust into your space, you can make a few quick and easy adjustments by changing the wallpaper backgrounds on your laptop, TV and phone for starters. Or grab some travel glossies and start ripping out pages to use for a vision board to hang in your room or on the fridge.

Little things like this around your home will help you remember the good times exploring and keep you hopeful for future adventures.

Open page of the book Wine Folly featuring information on the Rhone Valley

Tip 12: Brush Up On Your Global Wine Knowledge

If you’re a wine lover like me, then exploring different wines from various regions around the world is an exciting aspect of the travel experience.

I recently picked up the book Wine Folly by Avery Books which is a great visual read that makes it fun to boost your wine knowledge, while learning about the different growing regions around the world. Plus, it will get you even more excited for that next wine tasting trip abroad when it comes.

Shop Wine Folly on Amazon

Tip 13: Start a Bucket List Journal

I’ve always found that the hardest times in life are the biggest catalysts for transformation. As we are watching a great time of struggle unfold before our eyes, it shouldn’t surprise you if more than ever your brain wanders to goals you’ve always wanted to accomplish and experiences you’ve wished to have.

Make sure to capture all these thoughts as they come so you don’t let them fall by the wayside. It doesn’t matter how you make note of them — it could be in a physical journal or just a note on your phone, but having a bucket list on hand will keep you motivated to look beyond our current times and accomplish even more in the future!

Tip 14: Go on a Virtual Journey

If you’ve ever wondered what Mongolia looks like from above or wanted to check out the Guggenheim Museum while stuck at your desk, now is the time to do it. Get nerdy with Google Earth, explore a museum you’ve never traveled to virtually (Travel & Leisure has a great list of museums that are offering virtual tours), and take advantage of all of the online resources at your disposal.

Tip 15: Add Some Globally-Inspired Recipes to Your Cooking Repertoire

As I mentioned above, food can be one of the best ways to experience a new culture, and if you prefer to cook yourself rather than order delivery, these cookbooks are great adds to your bookshelf that will keep you inspired to whip up new global dishes.

Some Great Globally-Inspired Cookbooks:

Planning a trip right now? Don’t miss my go-to websites for booking everything from flights and tours, to accommodation and more:

Have more ideas of how to bring the spirit of travel to you, wherever you are? Share them in the comments below!

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