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5 ways to enjoy travelling when you can’t travel

5 ways to enjoy travelling when you can’t travel

view of the rocky mountains in Banff, Canada

I’m always excited by where in the world I’ll be visiting next and I know I’m not alone. But of course there are times, like right now, when all travel plans need to be put on pause. Whether you’re in lockdown because of a global pandemic or you just can’t afford to go on holiday for the foreseeable future (or if the former has lead to the latter) it can be hard not having a trip to look forward to. These are some of the things I like to do to keep me inspired and feeling like I’m travelling somewhere even when I’m not.

1. Make food from the place you want to visit

Where do you want to visit next? Get specific. Even if it’s somewhere in the same country as you, there are always local dishes to try. Do some research and discover a new dish to make. You might discover something amazing, or it could help you learn what to avoid when you do get to visit that place. This could be as easy or as difficult as you want. You could try a full three-course meal and have an entirely themed night or just try a side dish or snack that looks tasty. Learning a new recipe is never a bad idea. If you want some inspiration then check out Chef’s Table on Netflix.

You could also do this the other way around and try to replicate your favourite dish from a past trip. That may take a more skilled chef or a lot of trial and error to get it just right but I’m sure it would be worth it! Eat it whilst looking over old photos and reminisce. If you went with a friend then get them involved too! You could each make a different course or side.

I’m going kind of basic but my next holiday was supposed to be to Naples which I’ve just canceled. So I’m going to try making pizza completely from scratch as I’ve never done this before. I’ve made it with pre-made bases and with a sauce that my boyfriend makes. But I want to find a truly Neapolitan pizza recipe and make every bit of it! If you happen to have any recommendations then let me know!

lady making handmade pizza with onions on
Photo from Hereford Indie Food Festival

2. Watch films and read books set in the place you’ve always dreamed of going

Is there really a better way to immerse yourself in a different place than with a good film or book? Other than actually being there I’d say this is the next best thing. Especially if you combined it with the food you just made! Here’s a list of some films and books set in different continents:

North AmericaWild (2014)

Brooklyn (2015)
Into the Wild – Jon Krauker

On the Road – Jack Kerouac
South AmericaUp (2009)

Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)
Turn Right at Machu Picchu – Mark Adams

Eva Luna – Isabel Allende
EuropeAmélie (2003)

Roman Holiday (1953)
Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell

Illyrian Spring – Ann Bridge
AsiaLost in Translation (2003)

The Beach (2000)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Arctic/ AntarcticaMarch of the Penguins (2005)

The Grey (2011)

The Thing (1982)
Northern Lights – Philip Pullman

Antarctica – Kim Stanley Robinson
OceaniaCast Away (2000)

Nim’s Island (2008)

Walkabout (1971)
Tracks – Robyn Davidson

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
AfricaWar Dance (2007)

Out of Africa (1985)
The Girl Savage – Katherine Rundell

My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

The Girl with the Louding Voice – Abi Daré

I could have listed hundreds more great films (I struggled on the books a little). Some of these are favourites from when I was younger (like Jungle 2 Jungle) and some I’ve only just discovered. I’d love to hear some of your recommendations!

My favourite types of travel films are adventure documentaries. I find them super inspiring and make me want to explore every corner of the world. Patagonia are currently streaming a series of different ones that all look great so head to their Facebook page to tune in to the next one!

If you want some more recommendations then take a look at Ciara’s Instagram for the best travel books and great travel films on Netflix.

model laying on bed reading a book
Model – Rio Pennington

3. Go on a virtual vacation

Technology is an incredible thing. Just a few clicks and you can travel from the Vatican to New York in a seconds. I use Google Maps extensively when planning a trip. When you’ve found all of those Instagram spots on the photo spheres you can get a really good sense of a place.

A lot of places have a feature where you can look inside them. Check out this list of 11 cool places to see inside on street view. If you like museums then you need to check out World of Wanderlust’s post on the 10 museums around the world that you can visit virtually. I know what I’ll be doing this weekend…

If you’re looking for an even more immersive online holiday then you need to head to the Two Wandering Souls blog for their virtual vacation series. You can take yourself to Universal Studios, Disney World or to a tropical island. I’m sure they’ll be adding some more too!

Hogwarts Express train at Universal Studios in Orlando

4. Learn the language

If you’ve always wanted to learn another language but never found the motivation then this could be the perfect time to start. You don’t have to become fluent but learning a few phrases is always useful. Wouldn’t it be great to go on your next trip and be able to have basic conversations with people there?

I’m sure you’ve already heard of Duo Lingo but it’s definitely the best free language learning app. It’s not a foreign language for me but I’ve been using Duo Lingo to brush up on my Welsh on and off for the last few years. Isn’t it crazy how quickly you forget 10 years worth of school learning? Rosetta Stone are offering three months free for students as well so if that applies to you it could be worth checking out!

5. Plan your dream trip

So you’ve made the food, watched the film, read the book, explored it online and learned the language. I think it’s about time you got into planning mode so you can have the best trip ever when the time comes! Planning far in advance can be the best way to get cheap deals. You can check changes in flight prices to see when is best to buy. You’ll have more options for accommodation which often means getting the best value.

Here are some things to think about when planning your trip:

  • What time of year is best to go?
  • How long will you spend there?
  • What do you want to do there?
  • Are there any locations nearby that you’d also like to visit?
  • Will you need transport whilst there?
  • What’s the public transport like?
  • Where is the best location to stay?
  • What are the restaurants like?
  • Is self-catered better suited for you?
  • Are there any activities or excursions you want to do?
  • How much will it all cost?

You could plan multiple trips, perhaps for different budgets. Future you will thank you for it! It would definitely be fun to plan a trip where money is no issue and you could go all out. Find the fanciest hotels and the very best restaurants. You never know, someday you might want it for reference.

How are you keeping your love for travel alive whilst you can’t travel? Let me know what your tips are.

You might enjoy these posts: Top 5 Rural UK Breaks | Top 3 UK City Breaks | 3 Day Pembrokeshire Itinerary | Must See Place in the Lake District

view of the rocky mountains in Banff, Canada
View Comments (13)
  • Love your immersion suggestions. We have found ourselves doing several of them in the past weeks. I think we will all come out of this much better travel planners. :o) Thanks for sharing!

  • Great tips! I have been doing these!!! I’ve been trying to recreate my favourite dishes, and it’s not *quite* the same but I’ll have to settle haha! I’ve also been brushing up on some languages…. Thanks for the list of movies, saving those!

  • Love these! <3 We always do #3 and #5 before going on any trip, and we find ourselves doing a lot of #5 right about now! Can't wait to get back out on the road.

  • Some really great ideas! I love the idea of making favorite foods from past vacations. I also like planning a new vacation. Thanks!

  • Great suggestions! We’ve been making food from past vacations and then putting on a youtube playlist from that country. Makes us feel like we’re out for dinner in a different place!

  • These are great ideas! I have found that watching documentaries and shows like House Hunters International is also fun to get a peek at other places while I’m at home in the very landlocked Midwest. I will have to check out your film and book recommendations. Thanks for your post!

  • Some great ideas here, thank you. Will definitely be checking out some of your travel film and book suggestions. I’m currently reading Blood River by Tim Butcher which definitely getting me excited for when I can travel again!

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