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This summer hasn’t felt the same without the usual travel plans. Despite making the best of life during the pandemic, there are still things that I miss about travel as I reminisce from home.
You see, travel is a process marked by inquiry, interaction, and exchange. I miss jumping on a plane and exploring new places with wide eyes. Remember that feeling of openness as you ponder on all the possibilities that a journey brings? As a teacher by profession, I can say that travel is arguably the best kind of learning. It answers to our curiosity through the knowledge and experience gained and shared on the road.
Being homebound and with too much time on my hand, it got me thinking. What are some travel experiences that can be recreated at home? Turns out, there are plenty of ways to keep the travel spirit going from home, without actually travelling.
Nothing will get in the way of my desire to see the world. What about you?
Travel things to do from home
Travel from home with virtual tours
If you haven’t yet explored the world through your phone screen or VR headset, what are you doing?! Hardcore travellers will tell you it’s not the same, but hear me out: before you book a flight somewhere, don’t you look for inspiration from cinematic vlogs on Youtube or insanely beautiful travel photos on Instagram anyway? Life happens and travel understandably takes a back seat when we have other responsibilities. Whether you are saving up your vacation days or setting aside money from a summer job for your next adventure, it’s only natural to live vicariously through travel contents that can be found at home.
Before you write off virtual tours as a phase (like that summer with Pokémon Go), consider your purpose for travel. Virtual tours can be as entertaining, educational or immersive as you need them to be. Across the globe, museums, tourism boards and even festivals have all adopted an online identity to keep spectators in on the action at home. For inspiration and a deep dive into immersive storytelling, Google Street Art is worth checking out. And if you miss having the personal touch of a guided tour, tour guides from the walking tour company, SANDEMANs, are creating video tours, which you can support with a donation. GetYourGuide also has a Youtube playlist dedicated to homebound travellers, titled The World at Home.
In Vancouver, BC, live streaming at Vancouver Aquarium, Grouse Mountain‘s bear den, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the Pride Parade have all offered a unique front seat viewing experience for times when physical attendance is not possible. A rare learning opportunity, in recent weeks I have joined Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s Wolf School webinars. This weekly series has taught me about conservation for wolves in British Columbia and the ethics of wildlife photography.
Let wanderlust arrive at your doorstep with subscription boxes
Subscription boxes are a godsend for those who want a bit of everything. I guess it’s kind of like when I walk into a souvenir shop or marketplace. Luckily for travellers, for a nominal fee, these travel-themed subscription boxes are packed with goodies to fuel your travel wanderlust from home. Of all the subscription boxes, I am obsessed with SpiceBreeze, which sends spices and recipes for world cuisine your way. I love a good cooking night to attempt the amazing dishes I’ve had while travelling. My absolute favourite though, is The Wordy Traveler. This subscription sends you curated travel reads and knickknacks, perfect for gifts and to kick start a book club.
Get lost in a good travel book with virtual book clubs
Virtual book clubs offer something that I think is so needed at the present time: human connection. With any good story, it invokes feelings of travel from home. And having a community to connect and share together will take your experience even further. For travel-related virtual book clubs, try AFAReads and Fox World Travel Book Club. Some virtual book clubs meet through video calls, while others provide a forum and a list of discussion topics. Choose what format works for you so that you can comfortably contribute to the reading experience.
If there are no books that interest you at the moment, why not ask for recommendations? The Girls Love Travel group on Facebook has a book club for all women travellers to share their favourite travel reads. Most importantly, much like travelling, reading is more fun with friends. Why not get together with a group of friends to start your own virtual book club?
Need recommendations for a good travel read?
Exchange travel mementos on BUNZ
How do you find unique pieces from around the world, without heading to the airport with an upgraded, 30kg luggage in tow? Enter a unique bartering platform, BUNZ.
One of my favourite things to do lately has been finding travel knickknacks from BUNZ to add to my home. For now, BUNZ is only for those of us in cities like Montreal, Ottawa, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver. From overgrown houseplants to postcards that you bought from a trip but never mailed out, you can list your pre-loved items on BUNZ. Create your own “ISO” list to let others know what items you’d like to exchange with. Or, just browse through hundreds of local listings and let inspiration take over.
I’ve found tons of things I never knew I needed, like past issues of CEREAL and The Escapist. I’ve also seen listings of artisan soap from England and a vintage map of France. Currently, I’m eyeing a set of travel trivia cards just because. While meeting up for the exchange does require you to get out of the house, many BUNZ users have opted for contactless, porch dropoffs, meaning you can still arrange for trades while maintaining your social distance!
I think BUNZ is a fabulous way to de-clutter for your #coronacation house makeover while finding new gems to add to your home. It’s also about connecting with a community of eco-conscious enthusiasts from your city. I have to say when money is out of the equation, the genuine desire to exchange for goods fill in its place, and everyone I’ve met so far has been so helpful and kind.
Exchange languages with these learning platforms
In keeping with the spirit of exchange, here is another idea: language exchange. To briefly explain, language exchange means practicing a new language with a native speaker while offering your native tongue for a two-way learning experience.
Language learning is indisputably one of the best ways to forge a connection with a place and culture. Language exchange is what you do when you converse with locals on an overseas trip. Wherever you go, you are also bound to come across language exchange meetup events, which is great for meeting new people and exploring the local scene. Even before a trip takes place, it’s smart to brush up on keywords and phrases that you’ll be using on your trip. Language exchange is an essential part of any travel experience, and here is what you can do from home:
Get started by downloading free language exchange apps or websites like Tandem, Bilingua, and iTalki. You can filter through regions and languages to find your language exchange partner. There is often no set curriculum, so you are free to discuss topics that you are both interested in. Throughout the experience, you’ll find that you are picking up on subtle cultural and social nuances (grammar textbooks could never!) to really enrich your understanding of the language.
On the flip side, these language learning sites also offer paid online classes for those who prefer more structured instructions. If there is a language you are comfortable tutoring, you can also sign up as a tutor and make an additional income to add to your travel fund.
Recreate travel memories from home
It’s always bittersweet to come to the end of a great travel adventure and return home. All those magical, wonderful moments fade as the plane touches down, replacing the landscape with a sense of familiarity. Thank goodness all the photos and videos from the trip, right? Except I have thousands of them in my hard drive, still untouched. It’s just too taxing to go through them all, which is a shame, considering how many special memories have simply gone into storage.
I decided to give my travel memories a new life by re-purposing them for various art and craft projects. For example, creating a photo wall with travel photos or mailing them out to family and friends as postcards. If you’ve got a blank canvas, paint, and some threads, why not get creative with a painting or embroidery art, inspired by your travel? Recently, on a trip to Vancouver Island, I also got to take part in a weaving class and create my own landscape-inspired woven tapestry. The act of recreating travel memories has made them all the more special. Now that they have made them way into various spaces in my home, they remind me how fulfilling travel can be and inspire me to be open to possibilities, whether at home or on the road.