What. A. Bummer. As of this morning, I just found out that the Jordan tour I’ve been planning to lead for over a year is officially canceled. Thanks, Coronavirus.
Increasingly, the travel industry as grinding to a halt as we all try to finally get ahead of an incredibly virulent virus taking the world by figurative storm. People have stopped searching for travel resources (goodbye, traffic), stopped booking trips (goodbye, affiliate income), and now – stopped traveling at all, in favor of self-quarantine and social distancing.
Please don’t get me wrong – I agree with and encourage these social policies and think they’re the best chance we have to keep our healthcare system from overload and the greatest number of people healthy and/or recovering. It’s just hard to be on both sides of it, as someone who’s no longer traveling (and loves to) and someone who’s not able to run my own business because people (like me) are no longer traveling.
To combat my generally down feelings about it, I decided to try and come up with ways people could still stay interested in travel even while stuck at home – say, on a self-quarantine. To that end, I tapped my blogger friends Jennifer from National Park Obsessed and Brie from Chasing the Wild Goose to help me brainstorm a series of daily activities one could do while spending two weeks at home. We’ve come up with 14 travel-inspired daily activities – one for each day of your 14-day self-quarantine – that will help you pass the time and keep you inspired for your next trip.
Note: The featured photo for this story is from SFMOMA, which is currently closed due to Coronavirus concerns. All this to say – as you work through Day 7 (Plan a Staycation), be sure to check what public spaces are open!
Day 1. Pull Out Your Bucket List & Update It
Say what you will about calling it a “bucket list,” but there’s something valuable about having a list of the places you want to visit and experience you want to have in life – and then using it to plan your trips. I’m pro-bucket list, obviously.
If you haven’t looked at your bucket list in a while, Day 1 of your self-quarantine is a good time to do so. I took a peak at two of mine (my bucket list and my 40 Before 40 list) and realized there are so many places I want to go that I’d almost forgotten about. With all this time stuck at home, it’s the time to plan a trip! (Or use these destinations for other daily activities…)
Day 2. Make a Pinterest Board for a Destination You’ve Always Wanted to Visit
Pinterest is great for travel inspiration, because it has the beauty of Instagram photos with cool features to help you organize articles for future travel plans. If you’ve never signed up before, self-quarantine is a great time to do so – or to log back in if it’s been a while.
Day 3. Save 5 Photos on Instagram that Inspire You to Travel
Did you know that Instagram has a ‘Save’ feature? And that you can use it to remember beautiful places you want to plan a trip to? While I can’t share my saved photos (it’s private to the account holder), I can share that I’ve used the feature to save a photo of Jordanian dessert I want to try, this insane dessert in Scottsdale, and an inspiring quote I use in everyday life. (Okay, so maybe my saved folder is mostly sweets and space, but you can use it however you want!)
For today’s task, try searching Instagram to save five epic photos of some place you want to visit; you can use hashtags or the location search to find them!
Day 4. Spin a Globe & Search Kayak for Flights to that Place
- You don’t need a globe – use the Random Country Generator to ‘spin the globe’
- You don’t need to book a flight – that’s kind of irresponsible right now since you’re trying to stay home and keep everyone healthy.
Today’s activity is more of the ‘thought that counts’ variety. My goal here is not to get you to travel, but rather to open your mind to amazing places in the world you might want to visit someday when we’re all feeling a bit less anxious.
Pictured above, you can see photos of Romania, Aruba, and China – all random places the tool inspired me to think about visiting (again).
Day 5. Look Up the Country on the Opposite Site of Earth from You & Google Image Search It
Did you know that the nearest country to the opposite side of the globe from the San Francisco Bay Area is Madagascar? Or that the opposite of London is nearest to New Zealand? Man, living on a spherical planet is cool!
Here’s how to do this daily activity:
- Use this tool to look up the opposite side of the planet from wherever you live: Antipodes Map
- Zoom out a bit in case you land in water (70% of earth’s surface is water, so this is likely!)
- Do a Google Image Search of that place to see how freaking beautiful it is.
Okay, I change my thought: Living on EARTH is cool.
Day 6. Appreciate Natural Beauty Outside
Get outside and breathe deeply: nature is actually good for your immune system, and adventure is good for the soul. Specifically, there’s actually been a scientifically measured of the effect of a practice called “forest bathing;” being among the trees improves calmness and reduces stress on both psychological and physical levels.
Whether you head to your local park, or visit the state or national park in your area, take today (or one of these 14 days) to do your social distancing under the infinite blue sky. (Bay Area friends: search out the Redwoods – feeling small among the trees is one of my favorite feelings!)
Day 7. Plan a Staycation (& Book It if You Feel Comfortable)
I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure that planes are the worst way to transmit diseases – which is why everyone’s losing their mind about flights and such. So instead of planning a trip that’s going to stress you out or maybe get cancelled, consider booking a staycation at home that includes exactly zero TSA lines, flights, and sitting elbow-to-elbow with people who may be contagious.
The best part of planning a staycation is that you can support your local hospitality industry (read: hotels and restaurants) that I guarantee are hurting right now since non-local travelers are not visiting anymore.
(The photos above were taken on my San Francisco staycation a year ago!)
Day 8. Pick a Countries’s Cuisine & Find a Restaurant that Serves It
Refer back to Day 1, pick a country on the list that you want to visit, and then do a bit of internet searching to see what cuisine is like there. Bonus points if you use a travel blog to do that research because omgod my traffic is dying.
Then do another lil internet search to see if you can find a restaurant in your area that serves that food. For example, I really love Georgian food, and there’s one Georgian restaurant in San Mateo – it’s out of the way, but great to support local business.
Day 9. Buy a Travel Magazine at the Store on Your Next Frantic Toilet Paper Run
I see you, people who bought literally all of the toilet paper at my local Target. Next time, grab a paper product you actually need and use it to get inspired for post-Coronavirus travels.
My favorite travel magazines are AFAR, Sunset (in the American west), and Travel + Leisure.
Day 10. Create a Vision Board – Real or Digital
Consider this one a combination of Day 2 and Day 9 – use that magazine you bought yesterday to create a vision board for your badass future traveling self. You could also do this on Pinterest if you don’t feel like cutting up a magazine and making a mess…
…Though to be honest you’ve probably run out of cleaning chores at this point so making a mess to clean up gives you something else to do later.
Day 11. Live in a Place with Migratory Birds? Grab a Bird Book at the Library to Learn their Route
Birds are so cool – some live in the same area all the time, others move from place to place, they fly…
Since we’re not freaking out about the avian flu anymore, it’s a cool time to learn about the migratory birds that move through your area. It’s also spring, when a lot of these birds are actually on the wing. Check out how far they travel, and what the areas are like that they spend their winters and summers.
(Hummingbirds are one of my favorite types of birds and I had the chance to get up close and personal with some in Mexico two winters ago – can you believe some of these little guys migrate up to 500 miles?!)
Day 12. Research the Immigrant Cultures in Your Area & Google Their Home Countries
Here’s the thing: there are immigrant populations everywhere. And it’s a good thing because it brings cultural exchange into communities – instead of just requiring us to leave our homes to challenge our worldviews. /soapbox
If you’ve never considered the immigrant communities in your area, being in self-quarantine is a good time. Look back through the decades to see which groups have come and settled in your area, then learn about where each group is from. You might find a country you’ve never thought to visit which sounds interesting. You might just learn to better appreciate your neighbors.
For inspiration, you could choose from different Spanish-speaking groups from Latin America across the U.S., Turkish culture in most of Europe, or even different Asian and Indian communities that now exist… literally everywhere.
Instead of being scared of these groups and their cultures, learning about their homelands can teach us how similar we are – and inspire a future trip. Okay now /soapbox.
Day 13. Enjoy Webcams from Places You Could Be if Not for Coronavirus
The internet is so freaking cool. First, it took you to my website. Second, since the dawn of internet time, webcams have allowed us to watch one place while sitting in another.
Before your mind gets dirty, use this in a more wholesome and travel-inspiring way: watch webcams of cool places! You can choose from…
- African animals at the watering hole for those who are dreaming of safari (also on my bucket list)
- Sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – awwww!
- Surf conditions in Hawaii ?
And there are about a billion other options for any destination on EarthCam.
Day 14. Watch a Great Travel Movie
Speaking of places you could be if not for Coronavirus, I should be in Jordan next week to lead a tour – but uh, that’s not gonna happen. So instead, I’ll watch a few of my favorite movies filmed in Jordan.
You could do this daily activity one of two ways: pick a destination you want to visit and see which movies have been filmed there, or watch a generic travel movie. Some of my favorites include The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Greenland! Iceland!) and Hector and the Search for Happiness.
What say you: will you do these travel-inspired daily activities to stay interested (and support) the travel industry over the next few weeks?