On November 17, 2019, the first COVID case in the world was reported, marking the beginning of a long isolation period. It has been a whole year since the pandemic hit and nearly a year of constant worries, anger, frustration, anxiety, and sorrow. And it has been nearly a year of limited to zero traveling.
Life is too short to stay in one place. While understanding the pandemic is unprecedented and unpredicted, being in isolation for a prolonged period has made us crave traveling now more than ever.
Yet, the risks and consequences we might face when visiting another place are fully existent. Is there any way we can take a trip without actually moving far away from home?
In quarantine, my mind wandered much further than it ever had before. I am convinced that it is the power of imagination with the assistance of visuals and texts that can help us quench the thirst for traveling. With that in mind, I have compiled five ways that can take you on a journey without leaving the comfort of your own home.
1. Virtual tours:
Social distancing has created the opportunity for virtual reality to thrive. Nowadays, you can go sightseeing through your computer screen by using Google’s collection of locations all over the world. There are art exhibitions, museums, theaters among others included. My personal recommendations are:
Some great museums in the world also provide their visitors with virtual tours and online collection on their own websites, such as The Lourve, Guggenheim Museum, The Met, Vatican Museum (where the Sistine Chapel is the highlight), and British Museum (completely user-friendly and charming layout).
If you are not a fan of 360-degree tours, I would suggest that you hop onto YouTube. There are a few channels about traveling and lifestyle that produce extremely high-quality videos, which will certainly not leave you disappointed:
- Expedia: providing travel guide to multiple cities in the world
- Jonna Jinton: an astonishing channel showcasing the Nordic beauty
- Timelab Pro: exquisite videos with great production that record the majesty of various cities from a high angle
- Watched Walker: as the name suggests, the channel owner walks around London and other cities recording their attractiveness
- Nomadic Ambiance: a peaceful and magnificent channel that captures wonderous sounds such as rainfall, thunderstorm, snowfall, and ocean waves while displaying astounding visuals. This channel is a feast for the eyes and the ears.
2. Watch a travel show
One activity that has become much more frequent in my life ever since the lockdown is watching Netflix. Aside from various heart-wrenching, thrilling, and hilarious series and movies, Netflix has some pretty wonderful and informative shows and documentaries about cuisines, travel, and the planet:
3. Read a book
“The power of imagination created the illusion that my vision went much farther than the naked eye could actually see.”
— Nelson Mandela
Imagination makes it possible to see the whole world inside our mind. We let our mind run wild and it can lead us to different places at the speed of light. Without graphic support, it is up to us to picture and visualize.
I always find myself holding a book in my hands, reading carefully and slowly, trying hard to devour each and every word that is the result of both real experience and powerful imagination, whenever I need to escape reality and let myself into another dimension. From there, I can be freely creative and have numerous sets of mental images that transform themselves pages after pages. Some of the books that have helped me do so are:
4. Try different cuisines
I am a strong believer in the idea that cuisine tasting is an essential part of getting to know a new culture. For me, most of the time, it is the food that brings me to adore a country. If you are lucky enough to be living in a nation where restaurants are permitted to go back to business, do yourself a favor and have a meal that is not of your own country. Though, do not engulf the food. Instead, gently feel its texture and taste, and try to imagine what it would be like to eat the same food in its original country when the pandemic is over and we are allowed to travel again.
However, if going out for dinner is no longer an option for you, try cooking something new. Find the recipe for the one dish that you have been craving for so long but never once got to cook it yourself since it is too complicated and time-consuming. It will be a genuinely unique and memorable experience.
5. Learn a new language
One evening in July, when the lockdown was lifted in The Netherlands and a gathering among three to four people was allowed, I was invited to a borrel (it means an informal social gathering of a select (invited) group, often with a theme in Dutch) at my neighbor’s place. I was the only foreigner joining the other three Dutch. With my presence, they were kind enough to converse in English.
During our talk, they asked if I could speak Dutch, to which I replied that my Dutch was the bare minimum, meaning I could order my tea to go, buy groceries at the farmers’ market, and say thank you. Knowing that I had been in The Netherlands for three years, they told me that my Dutch should have been at a higher level with that many years living among the locals.
In my defense, Dutch people have the best English skills among 100 non-native countries, according to EF. It is so convenient to live in this country as an expat as almost everyone speaks perfect English.
However, I could have spent more time learning the language as I believe language and cuisine are two incredibly crucial aspects of a nation. And honestly, they are the easiest to approach. You can learn a different language and eat a foreign meal in your homeland.
Therefore, during quarantine, I spent at least five minutes each day learning Dutch via Drops and Duolingo. After a month, my vocabulary already made a huge improvement. I was more comfortable when someone spoke to me in Dutch and was more confident replying to them. Most importantly, I had this wonderful feeling of belonging to the land I had been living in for three years straight and a deeper comprehension of their culture.
So I highly recommend that you use this isolated time to pick up a new language as it brings you great joy and long-lasting benefits.