Whether it’s coronavirus or more common issues, like budget, work, and/or other ailments, there are a lot of reasons why you can’t just book that flight or take that trip. Here are some ideas of things to do when you want to travel but can’t!

A few years ago I wrote a gift guide for the homebody wanderluster, and I was reminded of it recently as everyone begins debating on whether they should travel or not during the current COVID 19 outbreak around the world.

While the it’s keeping a lot of people grounded or self-quarantined at the moment, there are a lot of other, more normal, reasons why people can’t travel. Money, school, jobs, family… I thought with everything going on, I’d share some fun ideas that you can use now and in the future.

10 Things to Do if You Want to Travel But Can’t

1. Start Studying a New Language

I mean, why not? Language learning is so easily available these days, it simply takes habitual effort. And studying a language really does open you up to a new culture more than just being able to translate your thoughts or communicate more. My major in college wasn’t just Spanish; it was Hispanic Studies. Along with practicing grammar or writing papers in Spanish, I was also being taught about different cultures, histories, and every day life of various countries.

If you’re interested in a specific culture, learning the language and following a program is a really interesting way of getting to know it even better!

Personally, I’m listening through the Talk to Me in Korean podcasts at the moment for those of you guys who want learn Korean!

Seoul Cooking Class
Buglogi and pajeon dishes I learned to make in Seoul

2. Learn to Cook a New Dish

Always loved pho but never took the time to learn to make it? Well, why not now? Take the weekend, watch Youtube videos, read blogs, gather your ingredients, and get to work!

There are so many resources these days to learn how to cook something, and it’s all at the tips of our fingers. Simply gather some recipes from a cuisine you love, and start seriously looking into what you need to do to make them. If you can find a local cooking class, even better!

3. Color! Paint! Embroider!

One way to travel when you can’t is to get creative and make something!

Buy a travel coloring book or test your painting skills by recreating an image you like. One of my favorite Youtubers to follow for painting is thefrugalcrafter for her watercolor tutorials.

If you’re really interested, try some travel embroidery! It’s totally a thing because I’ve been looking at ideas on Pinterest, and now I’m itching to get my hands on some fabric and thread. I also follow @cotton_athome, who makes the prettiest needlework. This photo in particular is what launched my current obsession.

4. Read a Book with a Strong Setting

An old classic way to travel. By all means, buy travel memoirs and books, but those aren’t really my jam. Instead I love books that make me feel like I’m somewhere new or being introduced to a whole new culture. I love reading a chapter, and feeling like I was along for the ride.

Heck, if you’re not a reader, just get Audible or check with your local library for what audiobook options they have!


  • Still Waters by Viveca Sten: Makes you feel like you’re in Sandhamn in the summer while the murder case is going on
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: I know the author has a bit of a problematic history and I don’t love the ending of this book, but descriptions of Barkley Cove and the marsh are incredible
  • The Great Passage by Shion Miura: Such a nice book to bring you into the everyday life in Japan
  • Anne series by LM Montgomery: My favorite! It’s basically made Prince Edward Island the ultimate destination for fans.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer: I’m ready to book a trip to Guernsey if anyone else is with me!
  • Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton: Ahhh the modern descriptions of Cuba set to a love story, sign me up.
  • The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth: I adore all her books, but this one is probably my favorite. I remember looking up locations after I read it and making notes on where to visit in the future.
  • Love Slave by Bertrice Small: I mean, you can guess by the title that this is straight up erotica. It’ll make your Fifty Shades loving friend blush. However, the author did her research when it comes to Islamic Spain and really brought the setting to life in between, you know, the sex scenes. At the end of the book, she even lists her research, so if you get as intrigued by this era like I did, you can read even more!
  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: So the village is fictional in the book, but Cinque Terre is very much a real area, and this book brings you into the Italian Riviera!
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I feel like I need to reread this one with a notebook beside me so I can jotting down of all the food mentioned. One of the first things I learned about Singaporeans was how big of foodies they are, and it’s held true with every new person I meet or follow on Instagram.

5. Schedule a Movie or TV Show Marathon

Another classic! I mean how many of us read and watched Harry Potter and felt like we knew Hogwarts better than our own schools? Who else finally went to Universal Studios and cried when they got into Diagon Alley?

Look up movies filmed somewhere you want to go and just schedule a movie marathon! Italy alone has so many beautiful movies that are pretty lighthearted, like Under the Tuscan Sun or Letters from Juliet. Heck, Adam Sandler’s murder mystery movie for Netflix from last year has some seriously scenic shots!

If you want some Korea recommendations, I’d point you more towards their dramas. “Mr. Sunshine” is utterly breathtaking, and Autumn says she loved the cinematography in “Kingdom.”

6. Read Travel Blogs

Heyyyyy, shameless plug!

But no, really, scratch your itch by reading travel blogs. Well done blogs have really gorgeous imagery that’s not just contrived for the ‘gram. Like I always tell people, my Instagram is maybe 1/100th of the images I take, edit, and upload while I put pretty much all of them on my blog!

Sometimes I have posts where I wind up uploading around 30+ new images, like my cafes in Seoul post for example!

7. Plan Some Sort of Tasting

Another food one! You know what would be fun? Buying some teas from around the world and setting up a little tasting! You could make it a game and have people guess where one might come from. Substitute tea with just about anything you can think of: alcohol, chocolate, cookies, deserts…

Street view in the pretty Jiufen

8. Scroll Around on Google Maps

No, really! This idea comes from @streetview.portraits. She’s agoraphobic and unable to travel much, so she began going on Google Maps to scratch her wanderlust itch. She’d use the street view tool to just explore different areas virtually and, in her case, if she found something cool, she’d save the image, edit it, and post to Instagram.

Always wanted to check out Taiwan but can’t go? Just use the street view tool on Google Maps and have a bit of a virtual tour. Heck, check some museum websites because they often offer virtual tours of their physical location!

Bonus Tip: For Korea, you’ll want to use KakaoMap not Google Maps to do this!

9. Plan a Country-Themed Weekend

Okay, so you know in It’s a Wonderful Life when George and Mary are about to leave on their honeymoon, and George is finally going to see the world? But then there’s a run on the bank, and they use their $2,000 to help people at the savings and loans instead. While George is helping people, Mary sneaks to their new home and decorates it with all sorts of posters, makes dinner, and has Bert and Ernie sing outside. That’s what I’m envisioning, but it’s 2020, so the possibilities are a lot more endless!

Turn your apartment into whatever country or city you want to be in for the weekend and plan for some activities (like the ones above) to make you feel like you’ve transported yourself! Put on some music (I have a chill Korean playlist I always have on) and use your imagination.

To help make your travels easier, here's a logistical guide to planning a trip. We cover all the little details often forgot in the excitement.

10. Start Planning a Future Trip

Now, this one is for those of you who’s inability to travel is only in the moment, not necessarily for life. One of the best parts of travel is beginning to plan the trip, at least for me. From picking out hotels to looking up what to do… It’s exciting!

So if you can’t travel now but know you can in the future, pick a place and start planning your trip for some future date, even if it’s years away!

How do you guys scratch your wanderlust itch without actually traveling?

PS: Stay healthy, guys!

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