From the editor: while countries around the world begin to re-open in the pandemic’s wake, we must contend with the fact that the viral situation is not under control in the United States. Although Passion Passport will continue to post typical travel content, staying home should still be everyone’s default position this summer. Curbing your wanderlust will save lives.
It’s 2 am, and I’m trying to figure out how much it would cost to get from Istanbul to Dubai. But then there is also Tokyo… and I have never been to Nairobi… how far is it from Kenya to Japan? I rub the point of a mini Eiffel tower statue in my fingers as I contemplate my wanderlust. This souvenir usually sits on my writing desk as inspiration, but this is more to self soothe.
Throughout my time spent in quarantine, one beautiful photo of Mykonos on Instagram is enough to send me into a plane ticket rabbit hole. By the time my computer is about to die, I notice that I have seven tabs open with around the world plane ticket itineraries, all going in different directions.
This isn’t my cry for help (but please someone send me a 7/11 Bento box from Tokyo. I’ll pay for shipping!), but I am having a hard time processing this time of stillness.
I have been a long term traveler on and off for the past ten years. I spend large swaths of time in different cities and spaces. Long enough to know every way you can reuse an airplane blanket (towel, scarf, yoga mat, picnic blanket, and my personal favorite, toga). But my days spent walking through Petrin Hill in Prague or salsa dancing in Mexico City have come to a standstill, and all I want to do is move. By air, train, car — hell, I would jump on a school bus with deflating tires if we had the air pumps and positivity to get us to Antigua in three days.
But my reality is less chimerical than that. As I’m writing this, we are quarantined for the indefinite future, and traveling is not on the horizon (these days, even crossing into the next state over feels like a rush).
Nevertheless, as we all get far too familiar with the stains on our living room rug, there are still ways to appease our desire to travel.
Listen to Travel Podcasts.
At this point, I think it’s fair to say we have gone through all of Parts Unknown, Dark Tourist, and every video Samantha Brown ever put out (and wondering how on earth she always stays so chipper after an 18-hour flight to Asia?)
But if your eyes start to ache because you have been in an endless lineup of zoom calls, go for a walk and listen to a travel podcast! Using your imagination is excellent for your eyes and mind if you have only looked at a screen for the last nine hours.
Podcasts are a more intimate form of storytelling. They exercise the listener’s imagination as other people’s travel stories play through your head. Feel like you are walking through the streets of Jaipur, Auckland, or Bolivia with people who have seen it already. You can listen to a stellar list here. Look through their eyes with your ears — it works!
Read New Travel Books
Walks are clutch, but if you are suspicious of leaving the house because no one in your park is wearing masks (the virus doesn’t get burned by the sun- it isn’t a vampire!), cozy up on your couch and read some travel books. We all know you have a stack of books that are just collecting dust, and why the Japanese are the only ones with a word for that universal experience is beyond me. Experience an author’s insightful record of their time abroad, with a litany of metaphors, jokes, and analogies that paint a much more romantic picture than just the sum of the experience’s parts alone.
You can go for books that have shaped the way we think about travel and will hopefully inspire your own travels across America or overseas. In some parts of the country, independent bookstores are doing curbside pickup. My personal favorites are A Year in Provence, In a Sunburnt Country, and Vagabonding. There is plenty of exploration between the words of a page.
Take Virtual Tours
Museums are still letting people in behind closed doors (Don’t worry. They aren’t having Eyes Wide Shut parties like the conspiracies are saying). Free virtual tours of museums, galleries, theme parks, zoos, and national parks are generously being offered all over the world.
You can still explore popular places without waiting in line or shelling out 19 Euro just to see a Van Gogh self-portrait (which is smaller than you anticipate anyways). No, you won’t be able to watch that baboon poke another baboon’s inflated buttocks in person at the San Diego zoo, but you also won’t have to wait for others to get out of your way. That’s what we in the business call breaking even. Sadly Morgan Freeman’s voice won’t be narrating any of these experiences — you’ll have to practice your voice overs.
What is the point of traveling if we can’t take beautiful Instagram photos of the food we eat in other countries? But wait! We can still have our followers envious of what foreign feasts we are gobbling up… just off of our own Ikea plates.
Use this time to make meals that you have always wanted or have been missing since lockdown. Maybe try a new country’s cuisine every week, or attempt to recreate some of your favorite food highs from abroad. It doesn’t have to break your budget. You can travel as far as your spice rack will take you.
Pro tip: Listen to a travel podcast episode featuring the country you are cooking from. Full sensory immersion!
Turn Your Past Adventures into Stories!
If you are an experienced traveler with enough stories to help keep your travel cravings sated during this quarantine, write them down! Now you finally have time to write your own version of Eat, Pray, Love titled “Which Country Was That? Problems of a World Traveler.” If you didn’t journal while on the road, try to write down everything you remember before your memories fade. What did your trip smell, taste, feel like? What did you see, who did you talk to, and how did you feel about it?
Plan Your Own Staycation
It sucks having to ground your travel plans. But you can still try to soak up some of that relaxation, exploration, and cultural shakeup within the boundaries of your home. Make the cuisine of that culture, watch travel movies or read books by famous authors, and make the local cocktails you were willing to blow so much dough on (and when made at home, are now surprisingly cheap). Are you still dreaming of that relaxing hotel spa filled with roses and candles? Who says you can’t grab some next time you hit Trader Joe’s? Delicately line the candles around your bathtub or rim of your sink ( Pro tip: they double as a mold cover).
Save for the Next Trip!
For a moment, let’s reverse engineer the disappointment of not having our normal lives and think of all the money you are saving! Hundreds of your dollars are not being spent on transportation, hair cuts, manicures, 3D movies, eating out, concerts, dance parties, expensive trending lattes, experimental ice cream, cocktails, and gym memberships. Take all the money that you normally spend on indulgences and put it in a separate savings account ( hopefully one with interest) and title the account with your trip to keep you intentional.
Make a List of Where You Want to Go Next
As I wrote this piece, I intermittently took breaks to see if I could possibly squeeze South Africa into my around the world plan… and for an extra $646, it seems like a good deal.
This is a weird yet temporary time; nevertheless, we should still be trying to live and explore as much as possible within the walls of our own homes.
What have you been doing during lockdown to curb your wanderlust? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!