In these uncertain times, many of us who love and have chosen the travel lifestyle are changing course, staying home, and doing things that are against our wanderlust and exploratory nature to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). I’ve only been working from home for the last three business days and I’m already starting to get a little stir crazy.
I’m not going to lie, seeing the Instagram accounts of beautiful destinations, getting reminders of memories from this time last year on Facebook, and thinking about the trips I was planning for this year has left me sad, anxious, and staring out the window, wondering when and if, this will pass.
The pessimist sitting on my left shoulder is not wanting to plan, day dream, and look forward to trips in the future because I don’t want to be disappointed; however, the optimist on my other shoulder is pushing me to stay positive and trying hard to come up with clever ways to stay motivated and keep that wanderlust and exploratory nature in me alive.
To help cope with social distancing and staying put, I’m come up with a list of four things to keep me occupied for the next few weeks to keep my wanderlust alive.
1. Watch my Favorite Travel Movies
Watching movies is a great way to escape, get lost in the narrative, and see parts of the world that I can add to my bucket list. Several movies have inspired me to travel just because the scenery has been incredibly breathtaking that I feel the need to see it for my own eyes. My trip to Iceland, backpacking through Europe after college, and many of my walks in Paris were inspired what I’d seen in movies.
So put on your pjs, grab you favorite blanket and drink, and head to the couch for an adventure! My favorite travel movies include:
- Eat Pray Love
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- Midnight in Paris
- The Bucket List
- Holiday in the Wild
- Crazy Rich Asians
2. Binge Watch Culinary Travel Shows on Netflix
My two favorites hobbies in this world are traveling and eating. When you combine the two, it’s my little piece of heaven. I find myself getting lost with the cast in the side streets as they search for the best street food and salivating when someone finds the best taco, pho, pizza, [the list goes on, and on, and on…]!
I’ve re-watched some of these series several times and when I new season comes out, all of my weekend plans are immediately cancelled (regardless of whether we need to social distance or not). Here are my favorite culinary travel shows on Netflix:
- Ugly Delicious
- What the Health
- Taco Chronicles
3. Learn a new language
How many times have you found yourself thinking – “I wish I could speak another language,” or “they’re so lucky they had language classes at their school”, or “I’d love to take on the relocation assignment, but I’m afraid I won’t understand or fit in.” Well, now’s your chance! I’ve taken language classes, studied abroad in a full immersion experience, lived with native speakers of other languages, and tried almost every language learning app in existence.
I would agree that full immersion is the best way to learn a language, but it’s not always feasible and I know several people who speak languages flawlessly that have only visited the country where that language is spoken once or twice in their lifetime.
Now’s the time to capitalize on the time you’re saving by not commuting and sign up to an online course, or download an app and learn something new. Many language courses have an online version, and if you search for language tutors, many will agree to do Skype sessions with you to practice. Here are my favorite language learning tools:
- Memrise – Sign up to learn on this app alongside 42 million others to quickly through flashcards, games, and recording mini snippets to practice pronunciation. Their pronunciation videos are done by completely locals, and you’re experience is personalised because it tracks the words and phrases that you struggle with as you go along.
- Vamos Spanish – If you’re located in England, Vamos has online courses during which you’ll go through lesson plans, complete exercises, and hand in homework virtually
- Duolingo – The classic language learning app. Keep practicing and you’ll soon be past the beginner lessons that make you repeat ‘hombre, mujer, manzana’ until it’s cemented into your brain forever.
- Learn with Oliver – Completely online, this language learning site lets you pick your level, set your pace, and complete exercises from your desktop. I’ve found their daily newsletters for the intermediate and advanced levels very helpful because often once you’re past the initial stages, you’ll be in this weird phase of ‘I know that, but I’m also quite not there yet’. This language course will help you fill in your own personal learning gaps.
- BBC Languages – BBC Languages brings a classroom approach to you online via courses taught through video, audio, and language learning. They have courses in 40 languages for all ages and skill levels.
4. Reading about new cultures, destinations, and history of our favorite places
Reading is something I guarantee we would do a lot more of if we didn’t have smartphones, movie streaming services, and a need to keep our schedules packed 24/7 for fear of missing out.
A good book is one that stays with you, one that comes back to you in your dreams and one that evokes feelings as strong as if you were experiencing it yourself. Many of us probably made a resolution, commitment, or intention to read more this year. Sound familiar?
Social distancing provides ample opportunity for us all to pick up a few new good books (when we’ve run out of movies and series, and can’t focus for the life of us learn one more Spanish phrase). Here are five of my favorites:
- The Storyteller’s Secret, Sejal Bandani
- The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
- Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes
- Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
- The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
How are you keeping wanderlust alive while staying indoors and social distancing? Any other movies, series, language learning tools, or books that you would add to my list?