The world is going to look like a very different place after lockdown. Even when the restrictions on going outside have been lifted, restrictions on international travel are likely to persist for many months. But just because it may be a year or more before you can explore a foreign destination with your eyes, doesn’t mean you can’t travel the world in your imagination, mind, and heart. Here are a few ways to satisfy the itch to travel in the comfort of your own home….
Read a book inspired by travel
One of the most evocative ways to experience a different city, country, and culture is through the inspired words of the people who have visited or lived there. The best travel books don’t talk about travel for the sake of travel (although there are some good ones out there); rather they create a textured, subjective impression of a place using storylines, compelling exposition, and characters to allow us to feel the soul of that place. For this reason, reading a well-written book set in India, for example, can give you an extraordinarily vivid impression of the country. Here are some excellent books inspired by travel (all available from Amazon)…
• ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho
• ‘The Rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald
• ‘Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes and other Travel Writings’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
• ‘A Moveable Feast’ (Lonely Planet), edited by Don George
• ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts
• ‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain de Botton
• The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca’ by Tahir Shah
• ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac
• ‘In A Sunburned Country’ by Bill Bryson
• ‘Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to The World of Food and the People Who Cook’ by Anthony Bourdain
• ‘Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road’ by Kate Harris
• ‘The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon’ by David Grann
Read our previous blog “Explore the World with these 12 Books that Inspire Travel”
Watch a foreign movie
Second best to reading books inspired by travel (in our humble opinion) is watching movies inspired by travel! With your passport temporarily on lockdown along with you, binging on foreign films is a great way to expose yourself to the scenery, cultures, customs, and even languages of the places you’d love to travel to (and plan to travel to once this is all over). Netflix is a good place to start but there are many other streaming services with added variety, including Showmax, Amazon, and Apple TV, to name but a few.
Some excellent travel movies, or movies set in exotic destinations, include:
• ‘Romancing the Stone’ (1984)
• ‘Out of Africa’ (1985)
• ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ (1994)
• ‘Before Sunrise’ (1995)
• ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ (1999)
• ‘Amélie’ (2001)
• ‘Lost in Translation’ (2003)
• ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ (2004)
• ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ (2007)
• ‘Vicky, Christina, Barcelona’ (2008)
• ‘Up’ (2009)
• ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (2010)
• ‘Midnight in Paris’ (2011)
• ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ (2012)
• ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ (2013)
• ‘Wild’ (2014)
• ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (2017)
• ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018)
• ‘The Farewell’ (2019)
Learn a new language
Haven’t you always wanted to speak Spanish? Don’t you just love the way those rrrrs roll off the tongue? Or how about French, the language of love? Or perhaps your Norwegian heritage and conviction that one day you’ll travel there and see the Northern Lights has convinced you to learn the lingo. Whatever your reason and whichever language you’ve flirted with in the past, you finally have the time and space to dedicate to mastering it.
You don’t have to become fluent; even learning a few key phrases can stand you in good stead when you eventually get to the country of your choice. There are dozens of language apps and online courses, such as Duolingo, Babbel, and Busuu. If you prefer more formal tuition, you can sign up with a language school like Berlitz, Verbling, and FluentU or complete a beginner’s course on The Great Courses Plus. When you’re ready to practice what you’ve learned on a native speaker of your chosen language (while also helping them to improve their English), try the Tandem, HelloTalk, or Bilingua app.
Whip up something exotic
Food offers a window – a floor-to-ceiling window – on culture, which is why exploring local cuisine is such a fundamental aspect of travel. It can be a little hit-and-miss if you’re unaccustomed to exotic spices and spiciness but discovering a dish you really enjoy will send you home with a lifelong love and hankering for that meal. So, instead of the usual South African and western dishes you cook (or order in) all week long, how about mixing it up with one foreign food night a week?
Take your family to Italy, Greece, India, Japan, Thailand, Peru, Turkey, or Ethiopia by creating an assortment of traditional dishes from recipes borrowed from these cultures. For recipes from around the world, try the websites Curious Cuisinere, allrecipes.com, or the Food Network Kitchen. Alternatively (or additionally) try the Masterclass series for online cooking classes from celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsay.
Listen to music from around the world
Another arena in which the culture of a country really sings is, well, its music! Playing the traditional and contemporary music of the country you wish to visit really evokes that place’s spirit and, thanks to the limitless coffers of the Internet, you can go anywhere really! For foreign artists, you can perform quick searches on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, or even YouTube. Spotify even ha a Top 50 artists/songs by country feature so you can listen to what’s popular in countries all around the world. This is a great one to combine with “foreign food night.” There’s nothing like a bit of Andrea Bocelli while you tuck into a fusilli puttanesca.