Right now we’re all going a little stir crazy staying at home so much. Where I live, we’re officially on lockdown number two. Travel seems so far out of reach, and I don’t know when it’ll be a good time to travel again. I miss the newness and adventures that come with traveling. There’s something about breaking your routine and going to unfamiliar territory that can be so exciting. It also makes coming home that much sweeter. If you miss traveling like I do, here are seven affordable things to do when you’re missing travel. 

1. Listen to music that reminds you of a place 

Right now I miss New Orleans. I yearn for the music and food as well as the arts and culture. While I can’t go to Bourbon street, I can listen to New Orleans jazz. Recently I’ve been finding New Orleans jazz playlists on Spotify. Listening to the trumpets and tempo specific to NOLA jazz, I am momentarily transported through my ears. 

You can listen to music from whichever place you miss or a place you want to go to. You can listen to New Orleans Jazz, Spanish guitar, French folk, and more. Simply use the search bar on Spotify to type in the location and see what comes up. 

2.  Cook specific dishes 

Food is a powerful tool that helps activate memory. If you miss traveling to a certain place or want a taste of travel from somewhere you’ve never been, try to bring that place into your kitchen. You can cook specific dishes. Or, you could make Spanish paella, Jambalaya from New Orleans, tacos and margaritas, sushi, ramen, homemade pasta, and more. 

You can use the power of Google to write in the location + dishes to see what recipes come up. Go to the store and get the ingredients and make a new dish that can remind you of far off places. 

3. Watch movies/TV set in that location 

Let’s be real. Part of the reason “Emily in Paris” took off the way it did is because we’re all desperate for a little culture and sightseeing. Seeing the architecture and beauty of Paris in the show was a delight. I personally didn’t love the narrative but stuck with it because it was good enough but seeing Paris as an extra character was beautiful. 

Also, I also watched “Valeria” on Netflix which takes place in Madrid. I was in Madrid right before the country shut down so it’s nice to revisit the before times.

Lastly, I watched “Made in Mexico” which takes place in Mexico City, where I spent the month of January. To scratch your travel itch, watch movies and TV set in your desired location. For me, it’s also a bonus because I get to practice my language skills when I watch stuff in Spanish. 

4. Practice the language on Duolingo 

Okay, so we can’t go anywhere right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for the future! Start preparing for your next trip by practicing the language from the place you want to go to on Duolingo. 

If you dream of going to Paris, start practicing French. If you have always wanted to go to Rio De Janeiro (which is totally worth it), you can work on your Portuguese.

Duolingo can help you get the basics down or increase your level of fluency. There is a free version of the app and they’ve gamified it so you can reach different levels. It’s fun to become fluent. 

5. Read books set in that location 

We have more downtime lately with nowhere to go. Instead of scrolling through the ‘gram and Facebook, you can dive into books. Books can literally and figuratively transport us to another world. 

To help your nostalgia for traveling, read books that are set in a location you miss or want to go to. Read books like Eat, Pray, Love, and others that are set in various locations. If you need some inspiration, go to Google and type in “books that take place in [location]”. 

6. Have a photo show and tell 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Why not use that to your advantage? Go back through your photo archives and have a show and tell with family and friends, over Zoom if necessary.

Go through all your photos and talk about the location, what you were feeling at the moment. Describe the scene with all of your senses. What did you see? Also, what did it smell like? What did it feel like? Share a funny or poignant anecdote. 

Going back through my photos from Mexico City, Madrid, Budapest, and Prague remind me of the good times. If you involve others, you can hear about their experiences and have another location to look forward to. 

7. Do an online Airbnb experience in another country

The other day a friend of mine sent me a listing on Airbnb experiences for a jazz concert in Amsterdam on Zoom. I had no idea! We often think that we’re just stuck at home unable to travel, forgetting that this is the same situation for everyone and we’ve all had to pivot.

Given the technology, we can now have access to so many things. Go onto Airbnb experiences and type in a location. See what the offerings are. Sign up for something fun and unique to do. 

Bottom line 

There’s something magical about traveling. It opens you up to new experiences you simply can’t have at home. It literally expands your worldview and adds to your life experiences. While we may not be able to or feel comfortable boarding planes to travel, using these seven tips you can get a bit of your travel fix in a different way.

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