Coronavirus has led to cancelling travel plans and has forced citizens into self-isolation. As COVID-19 has spread to over a hundred countries — some of which are on lock-down and others encouraging their citizens to take part in self-isolation and social distancing — many of us are having a hard time adjusting. This is especially true if you’ve had to cancel a trip that you were supposed to take; maybe one you’ve been planning for a long time now. Not only is the pandemic upsetting, scary, and confusing, self-isolation can bring out bouts of depression and anxiety. And, for those who have had to put off travels, the feels are real.
But, don’t worry. Most airlines and travel companies are helping their customers navigate these difficult times, without losing any money. It won’t mean you’ll get your travel plans back right away, but you can use this time to take part in travel-related activities to keep your spirits up while living in self-isolation. And, until you’re able to travel again!
1. Watch Travel Vlogs
One thing we love to do when we can’t travel is watch travel vlogs on Youtube. Sometimes, we watch videos on destinations we’ve already been to, to see if we can recognize any of the places they visit. Other times, we pick new destinations that we’re curious about to see if it’s a place we will consider traveling to in the future. Some of our favorite Youtube channels are:
- Geography Now
- Sam & Audrey
- Once Upon a Journey
- Gabriel Traveler
- Anthony Bourdain
- Andrew Zimmern
- Mark Wiens
- Trevor James
2. Read Travel Blogs/Articles
YouTube vloggers already get a lot of love, so don’t neglect travel writers that need love on their blogs, too! If your’e not sure where to start but you have some favorite Youtubers, check their websites to see if they have their own blog. Most do.
Otherwise, you can search the internet for travel topics you are interested in, and see what comes up. You can also type in the name of a country you want to read about and click the “News” tab on Google to see what’s currently happening there. Unfortunately, you may see a lot of travel news about coronavirus, but you may also learn something unique.
3. Try Cooking a Foreign Dish
#Selfisolation is no doubt a good time to try all those food delivery promos you’ve been meaning to use. But, after a while, take-out and delivery will only add to the somber feelings that can come with being shut away all day. If you are able to get to the store without getting to close to anyone (or, you have a lot of ingredients in your home already), try cooking a dish from another country. You can try to cook one that you know you love, or find a recipe for something totally random and different. Some of our favorite international recipes are:
- Eggplant Baingan Bharta (India)
- Pad Thai (Thailand)
- Kimchi Jjigae (Korea)
- Locro de habas (Ecuador)
- Flautas (Mexico)
- Perogies (Poland/Ukraine)
- Spaghetti & meatballs (Italian, but actually, Long Island ;] – sorry, guys, this one is a secret!
4. Read a Travel Memoir
For us, there’s nothing better than getting to sit home and get lost in a book. Honestly, reading is the second-best thing next to actually traveling, because you can create your own adventure in your mind head. Some of our favorite travel memoirs and travel-related books are:
- Eat Pray Love
- The Lost Girls
- The Khaled Hosseini Series
- Motorcycle Diaries
- In a Sunburned Country
- The Vegetarian
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Kosher Chinese
- River Town
- The Vacationers
5. Watch a Travel Movie or Documentary
Now is the perfect time to watch all the movies saved to “My List” on Netflix. Wait…are we the only ones that do that? Anywho, there are so many amazing travel movies and documentaries out there, as well as movies based on events or stories located in other countries. This will keep you busy for hours on end (though, you should get up to stretch every once in a while!). Here are some of our favs/on our list:
- Into The Wild
- Midnight in Paris
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Lost in Translation
- New York Minute
- Seven Years in Tibet
- Y Tu Mamá También
- Crazy Rich Asians
- National Lampoon’s Vacation
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles
- Under the Tuscan Sun
- Anything by Vice
- Anything by Vox
- Anything by vpro
- Expedition Happiness
- The Cove
- House Hunters International
- History of New York
6. Write a Travel Story
Not finding someone else’s travel adventures as exciting as your own? Then why not write your own travel story? You don’t need to be a professional travel writer to share the love. Grab your laptop or a notebook and start writing down your favorite travel memory, a poem that reminds you of a place you love, or even a fictional story based on a place you’ve been or a place you want to go. If you need some guidance, Hana loves Travel Listography and 642 Things to Write About. You can also try pitching your story to a magazine, if you’d like!
7. Color a Map or Make Your Own Country
This one is great if you have kids at home (or if you’re an adult with an inner-child!). Now could be a good opportunity to fill in that scratch map, color-in map, or cork board map you haven’t gotten around to yet, or if you don’t have one, you can order it to be delivered to your home. Otherwise, grab the colored pencils and paper, and draw your favorite country, landscapes, cities, maps, etc. You can also make up your own country, flag, country-name, etc. Here’s a great worksheet to guide you. Or, you can do like Max did as a kid and see what countries you can make out of orange peels.
8. Finally Put That Photo Album Together
Most people we know take pictures when they travel, and most of those pictures don’t really end up anywhere than Google Photos or on a Facebook post. This is fine, but if you’ve been meaning to get those photos into a scrapbook or album, now’s your chance! You can order prints online at Shutterfly or Snapfish, or create your own photo book on one of these websites.
9. Play GeoGuessr
Geoguessr is an amazing game that a friend showed us when we were living in South Korea. Basically, the game drops you somewhere on street view from Google Maps, and you have to guess where you are by using the directional arrows to look for clues. You can look at the landscapes, signs, cars, buildings, people…anything you can to guess. Then, you choose where you think you are on a map and the game will tell you how close you are. Hook it up to your TV and get everyone to join in on the fun!
Note: You used to be able to play this game for free, but it’s getting harder to do that. You may only be able to do a few rounds before they require you to create an account and/or pay.
10. Take Sporcle Travel Quizzes
Another game we love is Countries of the World on Sporcle. It’s a test to see how many countries in the world you can name in 15 minutes. Hana got them all once. Can you? There are also tons of other travel and country-related quizzes you can take, whether it’s to learn the capitals of countries, languages of the world, most populous cities, etc.
11. Practice a New Language
Oui, si, ja, annyeonghaseyo…! It seems like these days, we never have enough time to do the things we’ve always wanted to do, like learn a new language. #Selfisolation during COVID-19 is the perfect opportunity to do so. There are so many platforms and resources out there to help you start learning, like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, or even Youtube!
Note: Fancy learning how to read Korean? This comic really helped us!
12. Play a Travel Board Game
Board games are always fun if you’re stuck at home with others, and there are plenty of games that explore the theme of travel. You can also play games that you usually play when you travel, or pull out a deck of cards and have some fun! Some games we recommend are:
- Ticket to Ride
- Scotland Yard
- Wikipedia: The Game
- SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception
- 7 Wonders
13. Edit Your Travel Photos, Make a Travel Video, or Start a Travel Blog
Perhaps you have some beautiful photos from your previous trips that prove you have a keen eye for photography, but you’d like to edit them. Unfortunately, you don’t know how.
Well, now is the time to learn! You can also learn and practice video editing for all those clips you have from previous trips. Make your own photography page or your own travel video, whether it be just for yourself or for Youtube. You can do the same with writing if you’d like to try your hand at a blog, podcast, travel website, etc.
It may also be a good time to think about finding freelance/online jobs or starting your own remote business, in case you want to become a digital nomad in the future.
14. Do a DNA Test and/or Some Family Research
If you can’t go anywhere, at least you can learn where you came from. Order yourself a DNA test kit from 23andMe or Ancestry (though, be sure to read about the terms and conditions before sending your DNA away to these companies). You can also sign up for a 14-day free trial with Ancestry to start learning about your family history. Hana has been researching her great-grandfather for several years now. We recently discovered his home town in Ukraine and took a trip there!
15. Learn a Martial Art or Dance from Another Country
Sitting inside all day can be just as bad for your mental health as it is for your physical health, so it’s important to get up and move around. But, if you’re lacking the motivation, you have to make it fun somehow. So, why not try learning a martial art, exercises, or dances from another country? Heck, even try to learn K-Pop moves or do some bachata with your significant other (or, your dog). It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re moving.
16. Decorate a Travel Wall
That painfully-empty wall in your home has been waiting long enough. If you’re missing out on travel, now is the time to decorate that well-deserving wall. Time to whip out those arts and craft supplies and get to work (but, don’t do anything too drastic…). Hang up those photos, create those shadowboxes, stick on those decals, hang those Polaroids, or make a string of key chains you’ve collected. This will definitely make self-isolation more fun.
17. Start “Planning” Your Next Trip
So, you have to say goodbye to any (potential) travel plans for now, but this doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your next trip! Coming from the two of us who don’t like to plan our travels too much (did you see Hana’s Business Insider article?) this is a good opportunity to ensure you don’t miss out on anything on your next trip.
For information on travel advisories due to coronavirus, visit the CDC.
Have you had to cancel your travel plans? Are you staying at home to avoid spreading coronavirus? Tell us what’s going on with you!
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