Between tracking the latest COVID-19 updates, working from home or not working at all, homeschooling children, and trying to find toilet paper (ugh), these last few weeks have challenged us to accept this “new normal”. If you are fortunate enough to still have a job, food on the table, money in your bank account, and your health, you are in a much better position than many others. In the spirit of staying motivated during this difficult time, I want to share a few ways to stay inspired to travel during self-isolation that don’t require a lot of money or time.
I know travel may be the last thing on some people’s minds, and I struggled with how to share my travel tips without seeming insensitive to the millions of people who suddenly lost their jobs and loved ones to COVID-19. I am grateful that my family and I are working and healthy right now, and that I have the privilege of thinking about my first trip after this pandemic ends. Trust me, that does not go unnoticed.
For those who are desperate to get back to traveling and for those who want to start, it might seem impossible to think about planning a trip or staying inspired to travel right now. There are several ways to keep the wanderlust spirit alive when you’re stuck at home.
Try recipes from places you’ve been to or from places you’d like to go.
Dreamed of trying chicken makhani (aka butter chicken) in India? Remember that amazing Chicago-style hot dog you had a few years ago? Stay inspired to travel by recreating it at home! Of course, groceries are limited right now, but you can easily create travel-inspired meals in the comfort of your own kitchen.
I had some seafood, vegetables, and chicken in the fridge so I made paella, which I first tasted in Madrid. I brought back some saffron and bought a paella pan last year that I never used. Since paella relies on technique, I have time now to master the socorrat.
I also successfully made a Spanish omelette (aka Spanish tortilla), which is an omelette made with eggs, potatoes, onions, and other vegetables. It has simple ingredients, but it takes practice to master the flipping technique. I did pretty well for my first attempt, but I’ll keep practicing!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- French Onion Soup – Take a trip to France with this delicious soup. It’s a great way to use that bulk supply of onions!
- Gumbo or Jambalaya – Missing the spicy and savory foods from the South? Use up those big bags of rice with these flavorful dishes that use what you have in your kitchen.
- Margherita Pizza – Want to try something different than the traditional pepperoni pizza? Transform your kitchen into an Italian restaurant by fancying up some pizza dough with delicious mozzarella and basil!
- Chakalaka – Head to the beautiful country of South Africa by making this flavorful companion to BBQ meats and other proteins. All you need are a few spices, beans, and vegetables, and you’ll be in South Africa…no passport required!
Watch travel documentaries or international cooking shows to stay inspired to travel.
Since you’re probably watching mindless television right now, stay inspired to travel by using your favorite streaming service. I’m worried about possibly postponing my South Africa trip this year, so I watched Disneynature’s Elephant on Disney+ to stay hopeful that I will make it out there soon.
If you love food like I do, watch something that has both! Netflix has tons of documentaries and shows to satisfy your cravings for great food and travel. Check out shows like A Cook Abroad where a different host each episode shows you their travel adventures and cuisines. Follow Samin Nosrat in Salt Fat Acid Heat, where she travels the world to see how different cultures incorporate these four basics into the local food.
And remember to try some of the recipes that you learn about!
Get creative with your travel photos.
Have you been putting off those small projects like making a photo book or scrapbook for your trips? Is your camera roll cluttered with blurry photos or unnecessary screenshots? Take the time to organize your photos and get creative with those memories!
First, clean up and organize your camera roll.
This sounds simple, but let’s be honest…how often do we actually clear out unnecessary photos? Take some time to go through your phone, laptop, or tablet and delete old pictures that don’t serve a purpose. Remember that screenshot you took of the New York City subway map? Do you really need that taking up space? What about the blurry picture that you accidentally took when you had to sprint through the airport? This gives you a chance to get digitally organized while also reliving memories of your past adventures.
Next, organize and edit your photos.
Once you’ve cleaned up your pictures, now it’s time to edit and organize them. Fix those dark images, crop out those bystanders, and touch up those blemishes with photo editing apps or software. Then, create albums to organize your pictures to make them easier to find. I hate when I want to show someone that one picture, but I have to scroll through thousands of pictures because I didn’t have it in an album.
Create something beautiful with your photos.
Now it’s time to put those pictures to good use and create a photo book, a scrapbook, or fill up those empty frames you have in the back of the closet. A free option is to create albums on social media with filters and captions that tell the trip’s story. Think about all of those photo projects that you haven’t had time to complete and get to work!
Learn a skill that could enhance your travel experiences.
Skills such as photography, scrapbooking, writing, cooking, and mindfulness can greatly strengthen the memories you make from traveling. During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, take advantage of free or discounted classes and online tutorials to learn something new.
If you looked through your old pictures and found them out of focus, blurry, or too dark, learn how to use your phone, a standard point-and-shoot, or a DSLR to take beautiful pictures.
Start a journal and follow prompts to practice your writing skills, which can help you keep a travel journal to document your experiences when you’re on the road.
Learn about mindfulness and meditation practices to be more present in your everyday life. This is especially helpful when you’re traveling because it’s easy to lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of flights, transfers, hotel check-ins, and tourist attractions. You will find that the act of being present will help ground you when you finally reach your number one bucket list destination.
Stay inspired to travel by planning your dream trip.
The best way to stay inspired to travel is to research your dream destination, including logistics, transportation, best places to eat, and sites to see. While we won’t know what airfares and hotels will be like once this is over, it can give you something to look forward to in the future. Create a Pinterest board and save articles about your destination. Start drafting an itinerary with places you’re interested in and restaurants you want to try. Also, research how to use credit card points to get to your dream destination for free. You can get ahead of the planning process by researching your destinations now.
Although we’re stuck at home for now, you can easily stay motivated to travel by making it a part of your day. Watch shows and movies that explore new destinations. Organize and create something amazing with your travel photos. Learn a skill that will help you on your next trip.
We will be able to explore again, so let’s prepare to take the world by storm when this is over! COVID-19 is teaching me to live life to the fullest every day. Don’t keep putting off your travel goals because you’re waiting for something to make it happen (like a tax refund or stimulus check). I plan to fill up my calendar with trips to places I’ve only dreamed about. Why wait? We never know what is promised tomorrow and this pandemic has taught me to seize the day.