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I never thought I’d be telling people not to travel, but right now, we all need to stay at home and stop the spread of COVID-19. As someone whose life revolves around travel, it’s not an easy time. All my plans for the year are on hiatus, and my weekend plans consist of going from the bedroom to the kitchen. Since it doesn’t look like I’ll be traveling far away anytime soon, I have to find ways to satisfy my wanderlust at home. Here are ten ways you can travel the world from home and keep entertained during these periods of social distancing.

How to Satisfy Your Wanderlust at Home

Take a virtual tour

Thanks to the internet and technology, there are a lot of ways to see the world from your computer screen. From virtual museum tours, live nature streams, and cultural events, here are some ways you can travel the world virtually.

While most museums around the world are closed right now, many are offering virtual online tours. Travel and Leisure put together a great list of 12 museums offering virtual online tours, including the British Museum in London and Guggenheim in New York. The Palace of Versailles is also offering virtual tours! Google Arts & Culture has also partnered with 500 museums to display their collections.

Cultural experiences are one of the best parts about traveling the world, but due to the outbreak, most live performances are canceled. Thankfully, many are offering live streams that you can view for free. Here is a long list of online performances going on in the coming weeks with links to where you can see them.

If you’re an animal lover like myself, there are also several zoos and aquariums offering free animal live streams. Looking at cute animals always makes me feel better. I keep a stock of cute animal photos nearby to look at after I read the news. If you haven’t seen this yet, check out this video of penguins exploring the Chicago zoo after it was closed. It’s impossible not to smile at this!

If you’ve got a pair of virtual reality glasses such as Google Daydream, then you can take your virtual exploring to a whole new level. Combined with Google Earth, this will allow you to travel virtually just about anywhere in the world. Even if you don’t have a VR headset, you can still explore the world with Google Maps street view. Simply navigate to the place you’d like to visit and take a walk around the streets.

Finally, Wanderful (a fantastic community of women who love to travel), is offering backyard tours on their Instagram. Every day, you can join a 10-minute tour of a new place around the world, hosted by a Wanderful member who lives there.

Take a virtual cooking class

Cooking a recipe from a country you’ve traveled before is a great way to reminisce about the trip and bring back memories. I loved taking cooking classes in Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka, which are now some of my favorite types of food to eat at home.

Due to the situation, many cooking and baking schools around the world are even going online with their classes. I took an online Pastel De Nata Workshop with Pastelaria Batalha, an award-winning bakery in Lisbon, Portugal.

I was a bit nervous about being able to follow along with the class because my baking skills are not great, but the results were unbelievable! Our teacher, João, made the process easy to understand by walking us through each step, even checking our work through the computer screen and making recommendations on how we could improve.

travel virtually with online baking classes
Virtual Baking Class

The workshop is run through zoom, and you’ll be baking with people from all over the world with the chef. Not only do you end up with a delicious product at the end, but the class is a fun way to spend a few hours and socialize online. The entire class took about two and a half hours.

I was amazed at the end result that I came out with – 12 delicious Pastel De Nata, also known as a Portuguese custard tart. It impressed my whole family, they hardly lasted a few hours in my house! I can’t wait to make this recipe again and now feel completely equipped to do it on my own. The school will also send you the recipe via e-mail after the class.

pastel de nata
Homemade Pastel De Nata

I highly recommend checking out their online Pastel De Nata workshops or booking an in-person-workshop in Portugal when it’s safe to travel again. They also have a recorded version of the class which you can buy here. Your stomach will not be disappointed. 🙂

Another great online cooking resource for vegans is Veecoco, a website that can teach you vegan online cooking with experienced chefs from your own home. You can get a free 7-day trial here! For more cooking inspo, check out these delicious world food recipes by Jamie Oliver. Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bouturra has also just launched a new Instagram series called “Kitchen Quarantine”, where he is sharing delicious daily recipes you can make at home.

Bonus: While cooking, put on music from the region you’re trying a recipe from!

Watch Travel TV Shows & Movies

If there’s any business that’s booming right now, it’s Netflix. Sometimes you just need to binge your way through the day, and that’s OK. There’s no right way to feel right now. There’s a lot of amazing travel shows out there that can help take your mind away from the current situation.

Departures is one of the original shows that sparked my love of off-the-beaten-path travel. This show focuses on two Canadians who take off to travel for a year (it ends up going much longer than that), with each episode focusing on a different country. Andre Dupuis films the series, and he is a brilliant cinematographer. They go on some crazy adventures, helping you discover countries that may not have been on your radar before.

Planet Earth (or any BBC Nature Series) is another one of my favorites. As a nature lover, the show never fails to evoke my wanderlust, transporting viewers from the Himalayan Mountains to the depths of the ocean and everywhere in between. Watching Planet Earth heavily influenced my interest in nature and wildlife, which is now one of my biggest motivations to travel.

Elephants make everything better!

If movies are more of your thing, check out Lost in Translation, which will take you to the weird world of Japan, or The Motorcycle Diaries, which shows the stunning scenery of South America.

If you love adventure travel, then definitely check out the videos on the Banff Film Festival website. It’s usually an in-person event that you pay to go and watch, but due to the circumstances, they released a bunch of free festival films that you can watch online. So far, all of the ones I’ve watched have been amazing!

Listen to an Uplifting Travel Podcast

Podcasts are a great thing to have on the background while doing mindless tasks such as cleaning or laundry. You can learn a lot from podcasts, and it may help inspire you during these times. Some travel-themed podcasts that have helped me inspire and plan my travels are Zero to Travel, Girls Talk Travel, and Andy Steves Travel Podcast.

Get Lost in a Travel Book

Books are a great way to distract your mind and get lost in another world. There are so many amazing travel-related books out there that can transport you to another country or place. Here are some of my favorites:

  • The Way of Wanderlust by Don George- Beautiful series of tales and reflections from one of my favorite travel writers
  • Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner- This book takes you across the globe, looking for the happiest places on earth.
  • An Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington- Hilarious travel diary of a man sent on an adventure to see the seven wonders of the world.
  • Vagabonding by Rolf Potts – If you’ve ever thought about long term travel, read this book. This inspiring guide will teach you how to plan and live your dream life.
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed – A compelling memoir that details the story of the 1100-mile solo hike Cheryl took after she thought she had lost everything. This book helped me with my grief a few years ago, but it will also inspire you to go on your own journey.

For more book ideas, check out this post I wrote for Skyscanner on 15 inspiring travel books.

If you prefer to listen to books, then you can also get an audible membership, which has a free 30-day trial.

Although most libraries are closed right now, if you have a membership many allow you to download books online for free. For example, the New York Public library has over 300,000 e-books you can download.

Research your Ancestry

If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, this could be an excellent opportunity to dive into your family’s ancestry. Discovering your past has never been more accessible with websites such as MyHeritage. You simply sign up and mail in a cheek swab to their testing center. With the results from that, you can start building your family tree online.

Finding your routes could be an enjoyable project to take on while you’re stuck inside, and it may even lead to new connections. Your discoveries may also inspire a future trip to where your family lived – once it’s safe to travel again!

Do a travel-related arts project

Never have time to go through your vacation photos? While now you do! Being stuck at home is a perfect excuse to start a new creative art project with a travel theme. Whether it’s making some beautiful photo albums of your past travels, or getting creative with all those maps you took home (is that just me)?

Last year, after I came back from my trip around the world, I printed out my favorite pictures and bought a giant world map. I pinned the photos to the relevant locations on the map, and it ended up taking an entire wall in my house. It makes a good conversation piece!

Some other adorable travel-themed craft projects I’ve come across are this DIY Pocket Journal and Souvenir Postcard Serving Tray.

Dream about your next trip

We will be able to travel again. Although no one knows precisely when this doesn’t mean you can’t plan out your next dream trip. My bucket list has been growing like crazy since I started self-isolation! Some people are even booking future travel due to the crazy deals and flexible cancellation policies most airlines have implemented. If you’re nervous about booking right now, there’s no harm in planning out your next trip.

Sunset in Zambia – I’ve been dreaming of going to Africa again!

Travel blogs are a great place to research future trips. The entire travel industry is hurting right now, as fewer people read and book travel. By merely reading posts, clicking on links, and sharing articles with your friends and family, you are genuinely helping so much. So THANK YOU for reading this! I know most people are economically suffering right now, but if you have the means and can buy a gift card or future travel credit, you may save a small business from going under during this difficult time.

Learn a new language

With extra time on your hands, now is the perfect time to learn a new language. There are plenty of free apps to do that, such as Duolingo, but you could also consider taking online language lessons with a native speaker. Not only is this a safe way to connect with others, but those teaching will undoubtedly appreciate the income right now.

I’ve been taking online Spanish classes with Whee Institute. They are a language school in Bogota Colombia popular with travelers who want to learn Spanish while traveling through South America. Now they have gone online and are offering private and group classes via zoom or Skype.

Taking the classes has been a lot of fun, and I’ve noticed that my mood has been a lot better since I started. The classes add structure to my day, which is much needed right now. Plus, it’s so lovely to connect with other people! Learning a new skill is a great way to boost your mood, and it’s something that will be very useful when I travel again. Taking Spanish classes has been one of the best things I’ve done with this time!

Related to that, if you find yourself needing extra income right now, you could start teaching English online. You can find more info out about this and how to get started in my post on making money online.

Start a travel blog

Have you always dreamt of starting a blog? Now might be a perfect time. While most travel blogs aren’t getting much traffic right now, it’s not going to stay like this forever.

The truth is, your travel blog won’t have much traffic in the beginning anyway, as it takes months to start ranking in search engines. Blogs also require a lot of work upfront, which takes time. Plus, writing about past travels is a great way to distract your mind and bring back some good memories. By getting set up now, you’ll have the advantage of your posts already ranking in Google when it’s safe to travel again.

I highly recommend investing in a travel blogging course when starting. There’s a lot to learn, from SEO to Pinterest management, and learning from the pros will save you a lot of time in the long run. Plus. If you find yourself with a lot of time right now but no direction, courses can help bring structure to your days. I’ve been diving into photography and writing classes, which has been great.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the ways I’m keeping my mind sane, and wanderlust fueled right now. Do you have any other ideas on how to travel the world without leaving your home? Share in the comments below, so we can all get through this together!

Disclaimer: My participation in the Pastel De Nata Baking Class and online Spanish classes were kindly sponsored.

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