How to Tame Your Wanderlust When You Can’t Travel
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At the time of writing, most of us are locked down somewhere, unable to live out our travel fantasies in the real world.
This shouldn’t batter our spirits. Sooner or later, borders will reopen and airlines will resume their regular schedules.
Until then, we need ideas to satisfy our wanderlust without leaving the house.
Fortunately, many cultural attractions now offer virtual tours and various national parks enable you to go on an “online hike”.
Aside from virtual expeditions, there are more personalized ways to feed your globetrotting ambitions without being on the road.
On this basis, here are 8 activities to tame your wanderlust if you are stuck at home.
1. Research future trips
Before the world went haywire, I was supposed to go on a long Asia trip. Starting mid-March, I had booked stays in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Laos. Needless to say, everything got canceled.
Stranded at home, I decided to revamp the itinerary. With much more research time at my disposal, I refined the route and added more stops.
I now have a better understanding of the countries’ geographies, cultural specificities, and transport networks.
The lockdown is an ideal moment to read up on future destinations. In this context, researching your next journey has practical and mental benefits. It will bolster your preparation levels and also set your wanderlust in motion.
Your state of mind will shift from despondency to enthusiasm. You’ll stop feeling disappointed about the cancellation of the previous trip by eagerly planning the next adventure.
2. Travel virtually
Technology nowadays allows us to see some of the world’s best tourist attractions without stepping foot outside the living room.
You can now explore places like the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Grand Canyon through 3D tours on their websites.
Yes, it’s not the same as contemplating Da Vinci’s best works in real life. But it’s a start. And right now, it’s the best we can get. Lockdown culture.
Going on virtual tours has other unexpected perks. There are no queues, no Insta-hungry crowds, and no opening hours. It’s probably the only opportunity you’ll ever get to see the Mona Lisa without standing in line for 4 hours.
Finally, online tours can also further your research. Exploring attractions on a screen will help you determine whether these sights would enchant you in the flesh.
3. Revisit your fondest travel memories
Even before the current crisis, I took regular trips down memory lane to pass the time between adventures.
Reliving some of your most cherished travel memories through photography, journal extracts, and social media can help you sweeten the wait for the next grand expedition.
Forced travel downtime is also an excellent moment to sort your mementos and to chronicle past trips.
Consequently, now is a good time to fill up your journal and to organize your photos and souvenirs.
4. Study world maps and atlases
Old-fashioned atlases and world maps have a certain retro charm you don’t get from Google Maps or travel blogs.
Wait, an atlas? What’s that?
Younger people might not relate to this, but I grew up leafing through thick atlases without any particular destination in mind.
Thanks to social media and other online sources, we have become used to entering “country X” into a search bar — always looking for specific information.
In a matter of seconds, we know what of the capital of Turkmenistan is, how many people live in Nigeria, and what the most famous tourist sights in Seattle are.
Atlases work differently.
Sure, you can look at the glossary, but there is a much more joyful way of using an old-timey travel encyclopedia.
Open a random page and read whatever information the atlas throws at you. You’ll certainly end up discovering new places.
This morning, I shuffled through my old National Geographic Atlas and ended up in Lebanon. I had never heard of Baalbek. The atlas told me that it’s one of the largest Roman complexes in the world. A new bucket list item.
You can also combine old world maps with modern technology. Start on one edge and move your finger across the map.
Your finger stopped on Burundi? Go on Wikipedia and learn something about Burundi.
This activity will kill two birds with one stone: you’ll enjoy the spontaneity of exploring classic world maps while also learning about previously unknown places with the help of modern devices.
5. Consume travel-related media
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey.”― Anna Quindlen
Forced breaks from the road are the best time to devour new books, watch travel videos, and embark on a tour of Hollywood’s best adventure movies.
Films like Indiana Jones, The Motorcycle Diaries, or The Beach stimulate our curiosity for faraway lands — inspiring future trips.
Aside from Hollywood flicks, now is also a good time to binge the videos of your favorite travel Youtubers.
Many of them are stranded just like you — unable to produce fresh content and by extension, unable to make money. As such, they greatly rely on our support of their older videos.
6. Learn new skills for future travels
If you want to use your indoor time productively, learn new skills for future trips.
Are there endeavors you’ve been putting off for the last couple of years? Now is the time to take these Spanish classes seriously.
Always wanted to impress the hostel crowd with your cooking skills? Now is the time to hone your recipes.
7. Connect with like-minded stranded travelers
All of us are in the same boat. Nobody is traveling and everyone is equally impatient to get back on the road.
Wondering how everyone else is coping?
Take the first step and contact people you met on your last backpacking trip. Check how they are handling isolation.
Talk about the memories you had on your travels. Send them funny pictures from that beach bar in Thailand. Remind them of that bumpy Tuktuk ride you shared.
In simple terms, find ways to tame your wanderlust together instead of suffering alone.
8. Embrace the positive aspects of not traveling
As much as we love traveling, we have to admit that being locked down also has its perks.
The main positive side effect is the money we save. We spend less on flights, hotels, taxis, tourist activities, and overpriced airport coffee.
When my country enacted a stay-at-home order on March 16, I set up a new travel fund and nourished it ever since.
The money will finance future trips but it also serves as a mental impetus to remain upbeat in the current predicament.
Aside from monetary gains, think about the time you spend with your family as a result of not traveling.
You may be unable to visit your grandparents right now, but you certainly have enough time to call them frequently. That availability would shrink if you were on the other side of the world.
The same goes for friends and colleagues.