17 Inspiring ways to travel without leaving home | Armchair & virtual travel

It’s rare when the whole world is experiencing the same thing, but right now, many of us are biding our days at home to flatten the curve. It’s a crazy thing to feel forced to stay inside. We are all in this together and if it’s at all possible to stay home, please do so. But, that doesn’t mean we have to be miserable!

Sean and Jessica in their new house

Ok, I may be extra cool with this situation since I’m an introvert and loving not having to interact with people all the time. But, I miss traveling. Like, seriously miss traveling. Yes, it’s part of my job and that’s a big reason, but also, I miss discovering somewhere new. Eating interesting foods and feeling a little out of my element. As much as I hate packing (who doesn’t?!), I miss my suitcase.

This blog post could be called a bunch of things. How to not go crazy when stuck at home. Be the ultimate armchair traveler. But I think that traveling without leaving your home is the most positive take on all of this, don’t you think?

Before I get into this, I want to say that you don’t have to do anything that you don’t actually have to do right now. Be gentle. Feel what you feel. Talk to loved ones. It’s a tough time for many. Fortunately, I’m feeling really good most days and I want to be able to use that good energy and bring you something that might light up your life a little.
How to travel without leaving home

I know that not everyone has the same resources. I know that not everyone is feeling the same. We all like different things which also means we’ll like to travel differently. Here are a bunch of ways to travel from home no matter your space or income.

woman reading book on the bed
Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash

Read all about travel

Download an e-book

If you’re an e-book lover and already have a Kindle, head over to Amazon and get some inspiring fiction travel books. This doesn’t have to be travel-specific, but maybe it’s set in a specific place. Like, check out Letters to Juliet. But also take a look at this Forbes list for some inspiration. Of course, you can also order actual books off of Amazon or possibly a local book shop, I just thought because an e-book is instantaneous, it was a great option.

Order an inspiring coffee table book

A book you might find interesting and inspiring is Insta Travel. This perfect coffee table book was created by Aggie whom I’ve met a couple of times and she loves to share the beauty of the world. The book is filled with stunning photos and great travel advice by Aggie and her travel friends.

Read some travel non-fiction

For a non-fiction book that reads like fiction, check out I Grew my Boobs in China. This book is by my friend, Savannah Grace, and follows her journey of leaving everything she knows at 14 to travel with her family around China and Mongolia. It may seem like fiction, but it is completely real!

Of course, it’s always a good time to read Eat Pray Love. I didn’t realize it was non-fiction!

Borrow library books (digitally)

Check your local library and see if they let you borrow e-books. This is how I read most of my books. The selection is pretty limited, but it’s still 1,000s of books (for me). It doesn’t hurt to check…and it’s free! If you don’t have an e-reader, your library may use Libby and you can read directly on the app. While not a travel book per se, my last book was Dan Brown’s Origin. I loved it!

Download an audiobook

While I’m not the biggest fan of audiobooks, I know a ton of people who are, so check out Audible if that’s more your thing. I have used these on planes before and they are handy if you absorb information that way. For those who like to multi-task, this is a great option.

Read a guidebook

How about guidebooks? Get inspired and plan your future trip. We’ll travel again someday, and when we do, you’ll be super prepared! I have worked with Marco Polo for a while now and I really do love their books, but there are plenty out there…find what’s best for you on Amazon.

Latvian food tour

Watch the world from your couch

Watch old-school Rick Steves + all the new stuff, too!

With YouTube, you can see a seemingly infinite amount of travel video content. Growing up (and even still today), I watch Rick Steves. He was probably the first “travel personality” that I watched and he’s inspiring more Americans every day to get out and travel — when it’s safe to do so! Watch his full episodes for FREE on YouTube.

Discover travel YouTubers

Youtubers are also sharing a TON of travel content. My favorite travel YouTubers are The Endless Adventure (I really hope it is endless!), Kara & Nate, Cup of TJ, and some other fun ones are the Travel Beans, Hey Nadine, Kinging-It, and Flying the Nest. You’ll just have to watch a few to see who you jive with! And obviously, you should subscribe to our channel, too 😉

Use those streaming services to take you on an adventure

If you have access to NetFlix, Amazon Prime, Disney + or any of the many streaming services, I’m sure you’ll find some travel movies and/or shows to dive into. With Disney +, you can watch all the National Geographic documentaries which can make you feel like you’re on an epic adventure trip into the wild with an awesome guide!

Making empanadas
Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Do something to feel like you’re somewhere else

Cook a new dish from a place you love

The most obvious thing here is to cook something new from a place you’ve been or you really want to. The website about recipes from Italy looks incredible. Try to find authentic recipes, if possible. I realize that sometimes “authentic” means there’s no way you’ll find the ingredients. In that case, just find a recipe that uses what you have.

Make a cocktail that transports you to another place

Make some regional cocktails, or order some spirits from your favorite country. We’re in such a connected world now, that it may be possible to have delicious limoncello or smooth Polish bison vodka delivered right to your home. We’ve just made a cocktail video with local spirits and we have another that takes you on a cocktail journey around Europe.

Print your favorite travel photos

Take some time and order prints from your previous travels. Use a service like Mixtiles to make photo tiles, LALALAB for fun prints, or just order them from Target. If we have to slow down, it might be a sign to savor memories and print some photos. We just don’t do that enough anymore.

Order travel art for your walls

Order some art from the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen. Whether it’s a poster, canvas, or printed on metal, get something that reminds you of a happy moment. Or pick a print of the place of your dreams and try to manifest that trip happening in the future by keeping it at the top of your mind.

Work on a puzzle with a beautiful landscape

Do a puzzle of a place you’ve only seen in the movies — or make a puzzle out of one of your own photos! Technology is so crazy these days. We just got a puzzle of a beautiful spot on the Amalfi Coast. 1500 pieces…I wonder how long that will take to complete!

Learn a new language

…or brush up on one you’ve already started learning. Whether you live in the US and figure that it’s finally time to learn Spanish, or you want to move abroad and want a head-start in language-learning, it’s a good time to learn. I use Rosetta Stone from my local library, but you can easily set up Memrise or Duolingo. Then watch some videos (on YouTube) in that language. You might just be one of those people that catch onto languages quickly!

Experience museums and places virtually

Some local tourism boards are focusing on virtual travel. Recently, the Keukenhof — the garden that’s only open for 2 months of the year but is fully closed in 2020 — is giving you virtual tours as the new flowers bloom. Watch on their Youtube channel.

To find virtual tours for wherever you want to visit, just Google “virtual tour PLACE NAME”. For example, here’s the Louvre virtual tour, head to the Vatican, and even see the inside of Notre Dame before the fire.

Good Housekeeping has put together an epic list of virtual tours of famous sites. For the Netherlands, here are some great resources: Visit Amsterdam (even the Anne Frank House!), Explore the region around Amsterdam, The Hague even has a full list on virtual options on their website.

Move with flair

Let’s get active! Some places are on full-lockdown and some are on a suggested stay-at-home order. Either way, you need to stay active. Aside from wearing my FitBit and tracking steps and workout times, I’m just trying to take little breaks from the desk…or the couch. Here are some fun ways to do that.

If you are able to take a walk safely, it’s a great way to get outside, get some sunshine and fresh air while stretching the legs. Walking is a big part of traveling! Pay more attention to what’s around you. Try to discover something you hadn’t noticed before. I mainly suggest this to those in the countryside where you won’t run into people.

If you can’t get outside, do an at-home workout. Ok, that sounds boring, but hear me out! Some people really like accents. If that’s you and you want a simple but active workout, check out Coach Joe. He’s a trainer in the UK and hosts a P.E. (yep, for kids) every weekday. But it’s perfect for most ages. He’s even got a video for seniors. No excuses!

Try a Bollywood dance workout or really any kind of dance you can think of! If you want some fun recommendations on workout videos that aren’t necessarily travel related, here are my favorites:

Yoga with Adriene – possibly my favorite person on YouTube. On her channel, you’ll get gentle yoga, meditate, hard-core workout yoga, and more. She’s encouraging but gentle. I think she’s the best yoga channel on YouTube and when you look at her numbers, you’ll see that many people agree. If you want a challenge, she has a few 30-day programs you can do. It’s all free!

Blogilates – here are workouts for those in apartments and don’t want to disturb their neighbors. I like Cassey because she’s super perky and energetic (what you need when you’re pushing yourself in a good workout) but super real, too.

jessica looking through lens

Support local/creators

If you love a creator on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or even on their own blog, share the love and support them! That could mean sharing a video, leaving a comment, giving it a like, or even ordering merch. Sometimes, it’s as simple as letting an ad play on YouTube. Doing something small can make a big difference when incomes are down for the travel genre.

Support local, if you can. We’re doing videos in our home now, and many of these videos are showcasing local businesses in a fun way. Of course, we realize that this isn’t possible for everyone. But, again, sharing a post from a small business could make all the different for their livelihoods.

Need help?

We all do sometimes. We should all take care of ourselves…body and mind. That’s why I encourage you to read this blog post from my friend Silvia. She put her story out there about therapy and not only do I think it deserves to be read (and you’ll probably fall in love with her personality and binge-read her blog) but I think YOU need to read it.

There used to be a stigma around therapy, and perhaps there still is, but helping yourself, whether you tell others or not, should be most important. What Silvia writes about is an online therapy program she found to be incredible. So, yeah, even now, even without leaving your house, you can talk to someone. And no, don’t feel silly. We don’t all thrive all the time. Sometimes we need a new perspective and someone to help us figure things out. It’s all good.

Obviously that last bit wasn’t about traveling, but it was important enough for me to include it in here. I really want to give you the best of what I can and I hope that comes across here and throughout the blog.

I appreciate all of you because it gives me great pleasure to help you navigate a new city or share with you my favorite this-or-that. If you want to see what else I can find to share during this crazy time, subscribe to my Youtube because it will certainly be a journey!

Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.