You’re sitting at home dealing with the same dreary old things day in and day out, but all you really want to do is get on a plane. That travel bug is truely under your skin. You want to explore somewhere new, try strange foods and see amazing landscapes. You almost physically ache with how much you want to escape the daily grind and travel. But you can’t. Maybe work won’t give you time off, or you have family demands, or perhaps you simply do not have enough money left over after the bills.
Here are some practical ways to scratch that travel bug itch and make it through until your next trip!
Eat a Meal Out
Dreaming of Paris? Hunt down your nearest French restaurant and have a decadent dinner of classic French dishes. Or head to your local cafe and order a croissant and a coffee, sitting outside à la française.
Craving a Thai beach? Look up Thai recipes. Learn how to make some of the food yourself and you can satisfy that craving every time it hits.
To feel like you are travelling, take a local food tour. It will feel just like you are on holidays doing the same thing and it will help you with that travel bug.
Buy some international beer or make up cocktails you drank during your last holiday, or try drinks that are popular in your next holiday location. Tequila anyone?
Read a Good Book Set in Far Away Places
If there is one thing I like nearly as much as travelling, it’s reading about travelling! Reading about places often inspires me to want to go to them, but I also love to read about the kind of travel people do. It was reading about others doing it that convinced me to do a gap year in my forties when so many people thought we were crazy, and it also convinced me we could do it on a budget. When planning a trip I want to read everything I can get my hands on about a place, so even Lonely Planet books make it onto my reading list. In fact, travel guides are a fantastic starting point for itinerary planning.
Biographies and memoirs are the most likely to help with your fight against the travel bug, but every now and then there is a fiction book that will also help to inspire. Who knows where I am going to find the next hidden gem that becomes my favourite experience.
Here are just a few popular travel stories to get you started
- Eat, Pray, Love
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
- From Here to There
- What I was Doing while you were Breeding
- How Not to Travel the World
- Round Ireland with a Fridge
Maybe you could take this a little bit further, and join or create a book club group that focuses on travel books. That way not only to you get to read about travel, you can talk about it too.
Take a Staycation
The popular saying “a change is as good as a holiday” isn’t quite true, but it can go a long way to soothing that urge to travel for a little while. Why not find somewhere to stay overnight in or around your own town?
You could treat yourself to a stay at a fancy hotel for a night of pampering. Combine it with dinner out at a restaurant with your favourite foreign cuisine and a visit to a museum or other attraction that you would normally see if you were travelling to a different place.
If you are too busy madly saving for the next trip to splurge on a night out, how about packing the tent and camping somewhere nearby? Choose somewhere that you can do some hiking, or perhaps a beach where you can swim or just relax. Cook a BBQ and roast some marshmallows and spend the night star gazing.
Visit a Local Museum
If you are anything like me, as soon as you get back to your home town you ignore all those attractions that if you were anywhere else you would be visiting. You probably visited many of these places when you were at school, taking excursions to the museums and being bored silly. Well, it’s time to go back and have another look with adult eyes. You might be surprised at how much you know like the museums. It is also likely that things have changed a lot since school. Museums have had to move with the times, and they are more likely to but interactive and innovative now instead of the musty, dark places of your memory.
If museums really aren’t your thing, try a local market you’ve not been to, or the botanical gardens in your area. You could try checking out some street art or find a local festival to attend.
Find a Great Travel Series on Netflix
Just lately I have been binge watching Anthony Bourdain’s “Unknown Parts” again, and it has made me want to explore some of the lesser known destinations again. He of course has some great series, but there are some others out there too. Pick one and make yourself at home on the lounge for a weekend and soak it all in.
If you don’t have time for a series, have a look at some of the documentaries available. They don’t even necessarily need to be travel focused, just set in another part of the world. Look at some of David Attenborough’s nature documentaries, or even ones on the environment or local customs or ways of life. Maybe something on the Masai Mara, or the Amish people or Australian Aboriginal art. You could even choose something historical to help with the background to a place you are going – this really helped before we visited Pompeii.
What about a movie? Even some of the big Hollywood blockbusters can inspire your travels. Look at something like “Schindler’s List” or “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Both inspire people to travel and learn more about the shocking atrocities of WWII. In a similar vein, “First They Killed my Father” by Angelina Jolie gives a great insight to the horrors in Cambodia, which will help visitors understand the people today. It doesn’t all have to be about tragedy, think of “Out of Africa”, “Australia”, “Under the Tuscan Sun” or even “Mama Mia” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.
Do a Local Tour
What tours would a visitor to your area do? Are there some day tours that you could go on to see something you have not seen before? Maybe a wine tour to some surrounding wineries or a surfing tour if near the beach. Be a tourist in your own town for a day.
You could look for shorter tours in your city. Free walking tours are great, and it’s surprising what you can learn that you don’t already know about the place you live it. Many museums and attractions also offer free tours. Or you could do a food tour, or market tour to taste some new things. You could also look up local tourism websites to look for free resources to do self-guided walking tours around the area.
Other tour ideas include photography tours, street art tours, ghost tours, off the beaten track tours. There’s often a lot more available than you are aware of.
If you have a day or two spare, head out on a road trip. Pack up the car, and go and explore what is within a few hours of your city. Find some small towns you have either never been to before or you have only driven straight through and get out of the car to explore. A great way to do this is to try out one of the apps that can help you explore. Geocaching will give you a reason to search around, or you could even try Ingress or Pokemon Go, which are more game-like.
Is there a scenic drive in your area? Even if you drive it regularly, consider driving it with the purpose of looking at the area with a traveller’s eyes. Actually pull over and get out and have a look at the scenic views or roadside monuments along the way.
Do a Class
This could be as simple as a cooking class, or it could be as complex as a full language course. A photography course could up your Instagram game, and a travel hacking class could teach you how to earn and spend those points & miles. If You are keen on waterspouts, how about learning to scuba dive or surf.
You could go to a local school or training provider to do the class, or you could investigate what is available online. If budget is an issue, look at free apps for languages, or classes at your local community college. Try places like your local library too. Mine, at least, offers all sorts of free community resources.
Research, Plan, Dream
This one is possibly my favourite thing that helps appease my travel bug! All of the above, and almost anything else travel related can be called research, so use that as your excuse whenever anyone says “oh, travel AGAIN!”. What I like to do, even months out, (sometimes it has been years out!) is to start planning my itinerary. I start putting together a file (either a spreadsheet or a Word doc) filled with links to information and useful sites.
Some of the things I look at are:
- I read lots of blog posts and save all the useful bits from them.
- I use Google Maps and Rome2Rio to work out how to get around.
- I start to look at prices for accommodation so I know roughly what to expect when I book.
- I learn about local transport so that when I arrive I am not forced to use an expensive option because I don’t know any better.
- I look up local foods and some recommended places to eat them.
- I research free walking tours
- I read about the main attractions and decide if they are something I want to see, or just not my thing (like the Louvre)
Generally, I just keep my eyes open for anything that interests me.
I hope these suggestions will help you deal with that nasty travel bug that hits us while we are stuck at home.
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Josie is a forty-something budget traveller. She only discovered travel in her late thirties, but since then has travelled extensively including taking an adult gap year. She is now based in Australia and loves sharing all she has learned about travelling on a budget but with the comforts a Gen Xer requires.