If you’re one of the 4 billion people on Earth currently sheltering at home, you may be lamenting the loss of travel. You’re not free to Rome. You no longer have Swede dreams. But since travel to Europe or anywhere else is out of the question for now, we have an alternative: Have a travel experience while you’re stuck at home. Here’s how.
Creative Screen Time
How about a trip to a Romanian province where the guest-house owners sing folk songs after dinner? Or a visit to the ruins of Angkor Wat, a Caribbean rain forest with exotic wildlife? Those are just two of the free streaming programs on PBS. For a few hours, gather as a family in front of the biggest screen you have and take yourself somewhere. You don’t have to limit your choices to travelogues. The settings of good fictional stories can also transport you. We’re fond of murder mysteries in small British or Scandinavian towns. Need inspiration? One critic listed the best current TV shows for vicarious travel. The benefits double when you consider these shows as research for when the world comes back to normal.
Relive that Last Vacation
While no one enjoys watching the slide show of their friend’s vacation, this is the perfect time to drag out the photos from your most recent trip. Hook the cellphone or camera up the TV and have everyone in the family share their favorite memory.
Ethnic Home Cooking
You don’t have to be among the millions of people who have deep-cleaned their kitchen in the past month to discover some inspiring half-used ethnic spices in the pantry. It’s time to use the harissa, frozen chiles in adobo, and star anise. (We’re looking forward to using the star anise for a Chinese-style pot roast that fills the air for hours with wonderful exotic aromas). Perhaps you like to grow your own kitchen herbs. Now’s the time to put them to good use to make an authentic Italian-style Margherita pizza. No garden? Start one. It’s a great family activity — and what can be more joyous than planting a seed. Plant now. Feast later.
The world will return to normal, so prepare now. First, the small pleasures: Think about how great it will be to have a cappuccino and an almond chocolate croissant at the French bakery in town. Why stop there, when there’s good coffee to enjoy in Paris? Start planning now for a cold birra on the beaches of San Sebastian, a campfire breakfast in the Yucatan, a drink of icy water while hiking the Grand Canyon’s Angel Trail. Start smaller by dreaming of that cheap hot dog purchased while bopping up the avenues of a resurgent New York, either as a destination or en route. It doesn’t have to be mere fantasy. There are plenty of fine affordable adventures out there. Even if you can’t go now, there’s nothing to stop you from contacting your travel agent and mapping out the next trip. Now that you’ve got some time, ask for some brochures so you can begin your research.
Right now, armchair travel, that simplest of pleasures, can be a great antidote to trying times. Then there’s the extra pay-off of someday actually getting there from here. For now, send your mind and your heart to where you’d like to go — and plan for the day when the rest of you can follow.
Guest post written by: Juanita Hawkins
Juanita is a writer and travel expert. She has a passion for trying new restaurants and new foods around the country.