I’d rather be traveling! What to do when you want to travel but can’t.

Base Photo Credit: Peter Halasz

We’ve all been there, dreaming of a vacation we can’t take. Sometimes there is just not enough time, money, or freedom in our lives to travel, but that doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your spirit of adventure. Think out of the box and find ways to nurture your travel soul even when life seemingly makes that impossible.

To get you started, here are 10 creative things you can do when you want to travel but can’t. Try some out and let us know how it goes!

1. Armchair travel

One of the easiest ways to get to know a destination is by experiencing it through the written word. Visit your local library and spend some time looking at travel guides, read a travelogue or delve into the world of travel blogs. There is an entire world to explore via books and blogs. Add a glass of exotic tea into the mix and you have yourself a recipe for true armchair travel bliss.

Books and blogs to light that travel spark

Some of my favorite travel books

A few of my favorite travel blogs

2. Watch a movie

Whether you want to follow the adventures of two roving motorcyclists traveling the world or be inspired by the sights and sounds of Barcelona a la Woody Allen, there are an amazing array of movies that can put you in the travel mood. Want to feel like you are there – go foreign.

Travel Movies

3. Be a tourist in your own city

You don’t necessarily have to leave the city you live in to be a tourist. Grab that camera, get a map and start to wander. Visit local hotspots or major tourist attractions in the area and try to look at your city through the eyes of a first-time visitor. It’s easy to stop being curious about a place that you see every day so take the time to notice things around you.

4. Plan your next trip

Okay, so you can’t be there right now, that place your dreaming of, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever go there. Get some guidebooks and start planning your trip. Research the area, pick out places you want to visit, figure out the best time to go. Make a plan to destroy the obstacle that is keeping you from going. If money is an issue, estimate the cost of your lodging, airfare and sightseeing budget and make a plan to save the money you need. If time is an issue, figure out how much time you will need and find or make space for your trip.

5. Eat some international food

Okay – so yum, I envy you if you do this one. Whether you love to cook or consider take out your main meal source, foreign food is easy to come by and can bring the flavor or a place right into your kitchen (and stomach).

International Recipes for the Travel Hungry

6. Fake it – visit from the comfort of your own home

Be a virtual tourist! The internet is overflowing with pictures, videos, panoramas and descriptions of travel locations. Research a place and then create an itinerary that you can follow from home. Include music, videos and food in your itinerary. An added plus of the planning portion of this is that you get to know the area you are faking a trip to really well!

Want to visit Spain? Watch some Flamenco videos.  Have a hankering for a trip to Germany? Why not learn some German.  Check out my Virtual Tourist Paris post for some more ideas on what to do.

7. Learn the language

As Charlemagne said, “to have another language is to possess a second soul”. Learning a language can not only make your travels richer and easier, but also give you an understanding of a culture that you could have in no other way. You can spend some time learning travel basics or try learning a song or poem. Whatever you do, don’t worry about doing it perfectly – make it fun, speak with relish and wild abandon. No one is watching….

8. Listen to some world music

Listening to music from a culture/area is one of the quickest ways to get to know its heart and soul. From Native American traditional music to modern bollywood, there is so much to explore when it comes to world music. Put on some headphones and crank up the volume or turn on some music and dance. Soon you will feel like you are visiting that place you dream of going. Check out my post on Pandora World Music Stations for some inspiration.

Did you try any of these suggestions or come up with your own things to do when you want to travel but can’t? I would love to hear them, just post in the comments below.

10 thoughts to “I’d rather be traveling! What to do when you want to travel but can’t.”

    1. I’ve always wanted to learn Italian – I’m working on my French right now, but I think Italian is next. Have fun on your trip!

  1. Kate, if you’ve got French up to speed, then learning Italian will become easier. Getting your head around the fact that all nouns are gendered is part of the battle, and declining verbs is the other big one. Erk. I still make too many mistakes to mention, even after three years living here, but having a thorough grounding in French and Latin from childhood really helped me at the start.

    I love your list of blogs – I shall definitely be adding a few of those to my reading list. I can’t travel until June, so I’m whiling away the time planning what I’m going to do when that comes around.

    1. Wow Katja, Latin and French from childhood – you lucky duck! I wish I could travel back in time to when I was young and tell my parents to teach me another language. The only language learning that went on in my house was my great Aunt teaching me Spanish numbers from Uno cards. The strange thing is that she was German.

      Must be amazing immersing yourself in a culture and having to use the language on a regular basis – do you ever dream in Italian?

  2. Fun ideas, Kate. I’m all for being a tourist in my own town. In fact, I just did that. My boyfriend, Mark, and I were heading out for breakfast (okay, at 1:30 in the afternoon) and we decided to check out Frank, the restaurant at the Art Gallery of Toronto, then we checked out the European art at the gallery. It was exactly what we might have done at the Louvre, only this was Toronto. It was nice to get out of the same old Sunday rut.

    1. Oooh Toronto what a great place to call your home base! I love that you had breakfast at 1:30, afternoon is the best time for breakfast I say.

  3. Great ideas, Kate. Picking up on #5, drinking wines from around the world is a great way to travel without leaving home. The labels can be like postage stamps and share the unique terroir of the regions they come from. Opening a bottle of wine you can picture yourself in that spot. Pairing food to the wine is the perfect next step. Thanks and enjoy! Doug at the Authentic Seacoast

    1. Absolutely Doug! – I can’t believe I forgot wine! I always feel a strong connection to where wine is from when I am drinking it. It truly is like traveling without leaving your seat. Love love love your thoughts about the labels. Thanks for stopping by!

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