You did it. You finally gave fear the middle finger and booked that plane ticket to your dream destination. You read all about how to stay safe as a solo female traveler, you planned your budget and practiced packing your carry on bag. You finally got your family and friends on board with the fact that yes, you are going to travel alone. And then COVID-19 came along and those plans were halted, indefinitely.
I’m sure that the past few weeks have been a flurry of activity and emotions as you waited on hold with airlines or hotels trying to get a refund. I’m sure that you’re insanely disappointed that you finally decided to say screw it and go your own way, but then the world said No.
First and foremost I hear you. And it sucks.
But don’t get discouraged. Have faith that the world will open its borders again but while we wait for this pandemic to run its course, there are ways to stay inspired to travel from the sanitized confines of our homes.
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Travel Inspired Activities for When You’re Stuck Inside during COVID-19
Get Your Finances in Order
I am going to start with a super boring, yet incredibly practical and necessary to this sudden change in your plans. I’m hoping you were able to get some refunds for your travel plans, now put that money somewhere that you won’t spend it on copious amounts of toilet paper.
Take some time to figure out what to do with that money you worked so hard to save. Do you want to leave it in your travel savings account for the time when you are able to travel again? Do you want to use it as an emergency fund for now and figure out travel funds later?
Getting my finances in order has been on the backburner, swiping my credit card at any chance to go somewhere new without ever really paying attention to that balance creeping up in the background.
I’ve had a book on my bookshelf for at least 6 months that I started and then never finished. It’s called I Will Teach You to be Rich. I purchased it after listening to the author, Ramit Sethi, on a podcast and his message resonated with me because he says I can still have my matcha lattes while saving money!
It’s set up as a 6-week program to get your finances straightened out. Each chapter is a week so you focus on one aspect of your finances at a time before moving onto the next week. Since I have ample time I was able to read and implement the actions on the same day.
Now, I have a plan to get rid of my credit card debt, save for the future, and still save for travel once I can again.
I highly encourage you to take a hard look at where your travel money needs to go for now and for the future and make a decision that is best for you. I would just hate for you to wonder where the money went once you can travel again because you didn’t have a plan for it.
Ok, on to more fun things to do during quarantine.
Practice Your Photography Skills
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want epic photos of yourself and your destination to save as souvenirs from your travels. So why not use this downtime to practice your photography skills. The great thing is we can still go outside for walks, so take your camera with you and practice capturing your neighborhood. Or practice the tripod selfie in the comforts of your backyard. Figuring out which poses you like and can be your go-to when on the road. Play with the settings on your camera. Take an online photography course. Really, anything to up-level your travel photography game so you’re not fumbling with your camera out on the road. You’ll be able to get the shot you want with confidence!
Watch Inspiring Travel Shows
I’ve already successfully watched Schitt’s Creek from it’s first episode to it’s most current three times through and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen every Friends episode. So I’m using my extra time to watch travel movies and movies about people who’ve overcome the odds to succeed (a bit of inspiration we can use anytime, but especially now).
Here are a few of my favorites or ones that are on my list and where you can find them.
- Self-Made: A series about Madam CJ Walker who created a successful African American hair care empire in the early 1900s.
- Street Food: Are you a foodie traveler? Discover typical street food in Thailand, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and more with this series.
- Expedition Happiness: Do you have #vanlife aspirations? Follow the journey of this couple as they road trip North America in a school bus.
- Our Planet: Who doesn’t love the voice of David Attenborough? Connect with our planet through his documentaries
- The Way: Follow the journey of a man walking the Camino de Santiago. Watching this moved the Camino to the top of my bucket list.
- Edie: After living a life she did not design, Edie decides to climb a mountain in the Scottish Highlands. She’s the ultimate badass female traveler.
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: I watched this on an airplane once and absolutely fell in love with Walter Mitty’s crazy adventure.
- Amelie: I watched this on my first night in Paris. It’s weird and quirky but is a must if Paris is your post-quarantine destination.
- Joy: Not actually about travel, but it is about a woman forging her own path, and giving fear the middle finger along the way.
I’m sure there are others I need to add to this list. What do you recommend?
Read a Wanderlusting Book
Had enough screen time? Now is the perfect time to catch up on all of those books on your must-read list. I’ve become fond of Audible which allows me to combine a nice long walk through my neighborhood with a good audiobook. You can try a free 30-day trial which will get you about 2 books! I’m currently listening to Becoming, by Michelle Obama which has been on my list for ages!
Here are some of my favorite travel-inspired books. Some are about travel itself, others are about how other countries live, and some are fictional accounts of real events. No matter which book you choose I promise, you’ll be transported from your couch into a new world.
- Lost Girls of Paris: A fiction novel based on historical events surrounding WWII and a group of women who worked to bring the war to an end.
- Vagabonding: This is the book I wish I’d read before traveling. Combine this book with a destination-specific guidebook and you’re set.
- How to Travel the World on $50/Day: If you’re traveling on a budget, this is the book you need to read to figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.
- The Tattooist of Auschwitz: An unlikely story of love and survival at Auschwitz. I couldn’t put it down.
- A Year of Living Danishly: Told through the eyes of a UK woman who moves to Denmark, the happiest country in the world and why it holds that title.
- All the Light We Cannot See: A young blind girl and a German soldier are caught in the crosshairs of WWII. Another one I couldn’t put down.
- The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost: A more relatable true story than Eat, Pray, Love. This girl’s story is the evolution of every solo female traveler.
- The Alchemist: A must-read for any traveler filled with life lessons discovered on the journey to your dreams
- Wild: I debated putting this in the movie section, but I think the book is better, so I put it here! This is about a woman’s healing journey hiking the PCH.
Between watching all of those movies and reading all of these books I’d be surprised if you had time for more, but I’m sure you will so let’s keep going with the best things to do when you’re stuck inside.
Explore National Parks from your Couch
When COVID-19 closures started happening, I thought that the US National Park System would remain open – I even went on a last-minute visit to Pinnacles National Park just days before the California shelter-in-place mandate occurred. Now, many of them are closing or drastically limiting their services.
So, it looks like we have to leave our hiking boots in the corner and our camelbacks in the closet, for now. But that’s ok! You don’t need them explore US National Parks this spring. Using Google Earth you can virtually visit a number of US National Parks like Joshua Tree, Arches, Grand Canyon, Denali and more.
You can also visit Google Arts & Culture for “guided’ virtual tours of Kenai National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes, Bryce Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, and Dry Tortugas National Parks. These 5 tours start with a narrated intro giving you a history of the National Park. From there you can click on different aspects of the park to learn more!
Develop a Workout from Home Routine
If gyms haven’t closed near you, be prepared, it’s coming. All of the yoga studios and gyms are closed in California, which is forcing all of the gym-goers to figure out how to workout from home. The thing is though when you’re finally on the road, you really won’t want to go to a gym to stay in shape. So, now is a great time to develop your home workout routine that you can take with you on the road.
I’ve been using Beachbody’s home workout programs for years and loved that I could take them with me on the road. But you don’t need to spend any money to get a good workout in. Simply go to YouTube and type in “home workout without equipment” and you’ll find a number of awesome workouts that you can do at home. For yoga, try a Yoga with Adriene class, also on YouTube.
Or keep it even more simple and start with doing as many squats, push-ups, lunges, tricep dips in 30 seconds. Rotate through for 20 minutes and you’re done! That’s a routine you’ll be able to do no matter where you are in the world. And you’ll also stay in shape to hike those trails once the National Parks open back up!
Take a Virtual Museum Tour
Museums are not my top priority when I travel, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t stepped into the Louvre, wandered through Van Gogh’s Museum in Amsterdam after taking in a Banksy exhibit across the street, or marveled at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. Some museums are quite interesting, but they can be overwhelming, and I have found myself wishing someone would tell me which museum to go to and which to avoid.
Now, from the comfort of your couch, you can explore some of the world’s greatest museums, thanks to Google. As much as I hate to admit it, Google is using its technology for pretty cool things, including taking us on virtual tours of some of the world’s top museums including the National History Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Solomon Guggenheim. You can also tour Anne Frank’s House, Vincent Van Gogh Museum, and Museo Frida Kahlo.
Simply type in any museum that you’re interested in and I bet Google Arts & Culture has it. The only exception I’ve found so far is for the Louvre, but you can take virtual tours of the Louvre here.
I think this is kind of the best of both worlds. You get a glimpse of the museums you may want to visit in your destination and can decide if you do actually want to see them in person, or if online will suffice. All without changing out of your pajamas, battling crowds, or paying admission fees.
Learn to Cook Like a Hosteller
Cooking while traveling is a great way to stay on budget and a practice in culinary creativity. You visit a local shop or market which has ingredients you’ve never seen before and nothing you can combine to resemble what you used to cook for yourself at home. So you gather anything that you think you could use to make a healthy meal and a box of pasta just in case it fails.
This is very similar to our grocery store situation right now. Where when you walk in you might find that what you need is no longer on the shelves so you’re forced to improvise and create something new. Develop these creative cooking skills during quarantine and you’ll be set for cooking hostel dinners on the road.
Learn a New Language
It’s always a good idea to know at least a few words in the local language. But as an English speaker, we are lucky, because the majority of the world speaks at least a little bit of English. You can return the favor by devoting time to learn the language of your dream destination or even a language that may help you at home.
My Spanish skills developed greatly when I was immersed in Spanish speaking cultures in South America, but I do wish I took more time at home to practice. The best way is to speak it with someone who is fluent. I am currently looking at the following three sites to find a Spanish teacher via Skype, but they also offer more languages than just Spanish if you’re looking to learn something different Preply, LiveLingua, and 121 Spanish.
I don’t think anyone knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last or when travel will once again be an option for those of us with incurable cases of wanderlust. But if you take advantage of this downtime by pursuing the activities above, you’ll be better prepared and even more inspired to hit the road once we can. And I hope to see you out there, post-Coronavirus.
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