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Right about now, I’m supposed to be landing in Uzbekistan, there to celebrate their new year and spend 2.5 weeks exploring the Central Asian country. Instead, like many of you, I am at home, practicing social distancing and trying to help #flattenthecurve.
It’s the responsible thing to do for ourselves and our communities, even if we are all devastated by our canceled travels and un-refunded money.
But what to do about all our wanderlust? Here are some ideas on how to satisfy wanderlust while protecting others by staying at home.
1. Dive into a good travel book
As a child, I didn’t get to travel much. Instead, I explored the world through the adventures of the characters in my books.
Reading is still one of my favorite things to do these days. Here are some tcurrent favorites for when I want my wanderlust to fly free.
- Destinations of a Lifetime – This National Geographic coffee table book is a classic. Filled with stunning photography, it gives me the feeling of experiencing something new even when I’m just flipping through the pages.
- Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel – This is the other strictly travel book that graces our coffee table. I love counting off how many of the 500 places listed in the book I’ve been to and reminiscing about those trips.
- Born to Run – I’m not a runner and never will be, but I loved this book. It was fascinating to learn about the Tarahumara Indians and their ability to run hundreds of miles in one go. Their environment, their culture, their traditions.
- Why Did the Chicken Cross the World – Travel through countries and centuries through the eyes of chicken. Or something like that. Seriously, this book is an underrated gem.
- Legacy of Orisha series – This is what I’m reading right now! Technically, these are young adult books, but who cares? There are epic journeys through the land of Orisha, magic in all forms, and sadly, a whole lot of oppression and death that mirrors our own world.
- The Lord of the Rings – It’s a classic. Do I really need to explain why a bunch of smaller-than-average guys traveling through multiple lands, on a quest and accompanied by new friends, is good for the traveler’s soul? It’s basically the fantasy equivalent to taking a gap year to hostel hop across Europe or Southeast Asia (plus some extra obstacles).
- Americanah – This is one of my all-time favorites. I love imagining the narrator’s physical environment as she weaves her story between the U.S. and Nigeria. There are also so many nuanced observations about the cultural meshing and changes that occur when one travels and when one lives in another country.
What are some of your favorite travel-related books?
2. Have an international cookoff
Food is a huge part of traveling for me. Now that I’m cooking at home a lot more, I’m hoping to experiment with more recipes from my travels.
If you live alone, get friends in on the challenge and have a virtual cookoff! You can even Google Hangout or Zoom in for the actual meal to get some face-to-face time.
To get you started, here are some of my favorite dishes to make at home:
- South Indian egg curry – One of my go-tos from when I didn’t eat meat.
- Crispy chicken skillet with artichokes and beets – I don’t have olives and lemons most of the time, but this dish is just as good without those.
- Pad see ew – But usually with chicken or shrimp and sans fish sauce.
- Artichoke squares – I like to add a few drops of super spicy hot sauce in the mix!
- Tacos al pastor – Caution, will last you a week.
3. Learn a new language
Before my Uzbekistan trip got derailed, I was learning Russian via the Russian Made Easy podcast. As someone who typically learns better by reading than listening, I was pleasantly surprised at how well a podcast could work.
So think about where you want to travel to next, and learn that language while you’ve got some extra time on your hands!
4. Watch a movie or documentary set elsewhere
I’ve always loved the power of video in communicating human emotions and introducing us to new people and places. So while we’re all staying put, why not watch some good TV?
You don’t even have to pay for it. Many libraries provide access to free movie streaming. All you need is your library card.
Here are some suggestions:
- National Lampoon’s Vacation – I’m a Griswold family junkie. I grew up watching these movies with my family, and we still pull out the old VHS tapes from time to time (I know!). The original and Vegas Vacation are my favorites. If you can’t go on a vacation yourself, why not have a few chuckles watching their disastrous vacations?
- Wild – What beautiful nature we were blessed with on the West Coast. This one is for all the outdoorsy folks!
- Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – Really, any of Bourdain’s shows are worth your time. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover your next destination while watching the show.
5. Virtually visit a museum
Did you know some of the world’s most famous museums have virtual tours?
Thanks to Google’s Arts & Culture initiative, you can virtually visit hundreds of museums from the comfort of your couch. I’m a museum fiend and am pretty excited to explore ones I haven’t visited before.
Stay healthy and entertained!
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