Anyone who loves to explore the planet is facing a new challenge nowadays: how to satisfy one’s wanderlust while following shelter-at-home orders? The health and welfare of ourselves and others must be a priority now in the wake of COVID 19. However, for nomads like us, staying home instead of exploring new places is difficult!
Eventually, travel restrictions will ease up and we will be able to voyage again. But until then, how can we satisfy our endless curiosity about the wide world out there?
Actually, there are many great ways to be an armchair tourist. You can dive into the culture of a far-off locale, and learn everything you can. Once we are able to leave home again, you will see that after doing some in-depth research, seeing the place in real life will be even more fulfilling!
Here are six ways you can be a sophisticated armchair tourist.
1. Learn the History
Often, you never know the history of a country until you set foot there. That means you might miss the significance of some of the sights you see.
Why not study up on some of the places on your bucket list?
For example, you can learn about the kings and queens of England in preparation for a future trip to the British isles. You may decide to extend your visit to see Scotland and some of the many castles and battlefields across the Commonwealth.
If Paris is a dream destination, study the Revolution and Napoleon. You will gain so much more from your eventual visit to the Louvre when you understand the many roles that the building has played in France’s history. You will be amazed when you are shopping to realize you are standing on the spot where members of the royalty lost their heads!
Whether it is Latin America or Asia where your passion lies, learn more about the past of the country where you plan to visit. This knowledge will enhance and deepen your appreciation of the sights you will see once you get back on the road again.
2. Read Local Newspapers
You can learn a lot about the present-day culture of a country by reading its newspapers. Now that so much news is online, many publications offer English translations of their articles on their websites.
You will learn about the political parties, and the names of local celebrities in sports and music. You will discover news of upcoming events like concerts and festivals. You may also get a sense of what not to talk about should you strike up a conversation with locals.
Of course, perusing local media will be much easier if you can understand the native tongue (see below).
3. Study the Language
Understanding another country becomes richer and deeper when you learn the country’s language.
It will make traveling much easier. You will be able to speak to a taxi driver and order your dinner in a restaurant. You will be able to thank someone for giving you directions, and understand guidance if there is an emergency.
You will also gain a deeper appreciation of the people and their ways. The semantics of language will open the door to people’s attitudes and ways of seeing the world.
You can teach yourself a language using online tools. You can attend a class while we wait for the ability to get on an airplane again. You can set up Zoom meetings and practice conversations with people in that language!
4. Travel Virtually
Many destinations are fanning interest among potential travelers by offering virtual tours. You can actually see incredible sights that you might never otherwise witness from the comfort of your own home
There are virtual safaris in Africa. You can take a virtual tour of museums like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and see priceless art collections.
For those of us afraid of heights or wild animals, some of these armchair adventures are even better than the actual thing! They are certainly a lot less expensive.
5. Watch Films
Another favorite way to travel to countries you may not be able to go to IRL is through the movies. You can visit the vast Sahara when you watch “Lawrence of Arabia.” You can spin through the Alps in “The Sound of Music.”
Certain movies are love letters to the places where they were filmed. “Mama Mia” makes everyone want to go to the Greek islands. “Annie Hall” is a true valentine to New York City. Any Fellini movie is an education on Italian art, love, and food.
Some American movies give you a window into how the rest of the world sees us. (The French love Jerry Lewis..who knew?)
6. Cook the Food
There is no better route to the soul of a country than through its food. It is one of the reasons we travel. Luckily, it can be enjoyed even at home.
Collect some cookbooks from the regions where you dream of traveling. Many cookbooks describe more than simply recipes but the geography and climate of the area and why certain crops do well there.
Try out some dishes at home, before you embark on your journey. See how hot you can take your curry before telling the waiter in India you want Vindaloo.
Don’t forget the libations! You can learn lots about the wines of a region while in the comfort of your armchair. Take an online class to learn the subtle differences of fruit from various vineyards across Europe.
You can also prepare yourself for vodka in Russia, beer in Germany, and sake in Japan.
Become an Armchair Tourist: Learn Everything You Can About Where You Want to Go
Until we can hop on a flight, for while we must content ourselves with being an armchair tourist. While we would love to stroll along the Champs Elysee or a beach in Sardinia, for now, we must sate our lust for travel through books, language, and culture.
Pop open a bottle of vino, set the DVD onto “La Dolce Vita,” dig into some pasta, and dream of enjoying the wonders of Italy from your very own living room. It’s not the real thing, but it is definitely an enjoyable alternative!
For more information on travel, both virtual and real, check out our blog.