How to Travel the World Without Leaving Home

How to Travel Without Leaving Home

Sometimes a trip or vacation is like a rollercoaster ride. You spend months or sometimes years anticipating the trip, planning out every single detail, telling all your friends about it so much that they secretly kind of hate hearing about it, and packing and unpacking your bags until it’s finally the day before your flight and you’re wondering if you really did pack enough underwear? If the descent up the high slope of a roller coaster is before the trip and the steep drop and adrenaline is during the trip, then the kind of nauseous feeling at the pit of your stomach by the end of the it is when you finally get home and drop your luggage at the door. 

What happened to that passion and excitement?! You’ve just experienced the after-trip crash. You’re definitely not ready to venture on another big trip again, but you don’t want to lose that wanderlust and travel itch while you take a break from traveling.

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As a part-time traveler with a full-time job, I’m not often found traveling the world like many travel nomads are. Instead, I save my wanderlust and travel excitement for when I finally have a vacation from work and can jump on the first bus or train to the airport. So, I’ve had my fair share of traveling the world from the comfort of my couch. There’s so many great ways to experience different cultures without actually going to a foreign country if you’re willing to look for ways to do it. Found yourself dreaming of dancing Flamenco in Spain? Why not learn through YouTube? Longing for some classic Japanese okonomiyaki but can’t find any Japanese restaurants in your neighborhood? Find the recipe online!

Whether you’re stuck at home because you just got back from a trip, can’t afford to travel, don’t have the time, or you’re just plain grounded for the foreseeable future, there are many ways to enjoy dream destinations and foreign cultures without leaving your home–heck, sometimes without even leaving the comfort of your warm and trusty bed.

You might be itching to hop on a plane or in your car to jet off to a bucket list country or place, but what do you do when that’s not possible? If you thought, curl up in a warm blanket and eat chocolate, then I completely support that! Who wouldn’t want a nice snack in a cozy environment? But, while unproductivity during a home-based vacation in today’s fast-paced world is perfectly ok, here are 13 ways you can travel the world without leaving home (and, some of these ways are free).

14 Ways to Travel from Home

1. Find Culture in Your Local Area

Finding culture in your local area can be as simple as a Google search. Now, with so many apps and resources like YouTube, GrubHub, and UberEats, you can find great cultural experiences either for free or at a cheap price! Craving a little Mexican culture? Type “mexican restaurant” in Google Maps and see what pops up. Chances are there are more multicultural restaurants in your area than you think. 

On a personal note, when I first moved to Fukui, Japan, I really missed dancing salsa and interacting with Latin American culture. Luckily, with a little searching on the radio and YouTube, I was able to find the salsa music I missed so much and learn new dancing styles through great free videos on YouTube. 

Tip

If you’re interested in leaving your house, finding culture within your local area is as easy as stepping outside! Remember how I said I love salsa dancing? Other than turning on the radio, I broadcasted my interests to the new friends I made in my community, and I was connected to a great salsa dance group that I still dance with today!

2. Read a Book

How long has it been since you’ve cracked open a book and sat down for a long reading session? If you’re like me, you’ll sit down to read and get distracted with everything else happening in your life after a couple of minutes. I used to be the kind of kid who would run to the bookstore, buy a new book, and finish half of the book before bed. Now as an adult, reading has definitely stopped being a priority in my life, and I can read books in more than one language. That’s double the fictional worlds to get lost in! If you have some vacation time in your life that doesn’t include travel, why not use your downtime to get back in touch with the bookworm in you? Some books that I recommend are: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Into the Wild by Carine McCandless, Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Marching Powder by Rusty Young, Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin, Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson, Wild Swans by Jung Chang, The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, and Kokoro by Natsume Soseki

Tip

If reading a book is not your thing, why not listen to a book instead? Audiobooks have become super popular and accessible over the years as you can listen to books from your Kindle, Nook, or even iPhone. There are audiobook sites out there for everyone like Amazon’s Audible, on iTunes, and Google audiobooks.

Currently, Audible is offering a special selection of books that you can listen to for FREE and without signing up for a subscription.

3. Go on a (Virtual) Museum Tour

If you’re the kind of person who likes to visit a museum wherever you travel, then you can also do that at home! Many museums offer free virtual tours on their websites, on YouTube, and through other resources like Google’s Arts & Culture program.

You can find exhibits from your favorite museums with just a mouse click. Missing a little of the New York action? Check out the Metropolitan Museum’s online exhibits. Need a little Parisian charm? The Musée d’ Orsay in Paris has virtual exhibits and tours as well. 

4. Watch International Movies and TV Shows

We are in the best generation to easily access international movies and TV shows. All you need is a subscription (yours or your friend’s/family’s) to at least one of the big online networks like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, and you’ve got a library of movies shot in bucket list destinations. Especially now, networks like Netflix have been cranking out international shows and movies from all over the world and for every kind of viewer. If you have an online streaming subscription, there are quite a few movies and shows that  you can watch to refill your wanderlust. Movies, any network: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Okja/Parasite, Eat Pray Love, Mamma Mia, Under the Tuscan Sun, Bucketlist, Slumdog Millionaire, Queen, Roma, First They Killed My Father, Queen of Katwe and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I’m going to be honest, I only have a subscription to Netflix. While there are other shows I loved watching in the U.S. that I can only find on other streaming platforms, I’ve only allowed myself to spend money on one streaming giant. Luckily, thanks to the kindness of friends and their VPNs, I can watch some of the more popular/mainstream tv shows or movies on other networks occasionally (watching parties, anyone?). For the Netflix loyalists, here are some international or travel-focused tv shows I recommend: Outlander, Queenie, Our Planet, Anothony Bourdaine’s Parts Unknown, and Street Food Have Amazon Prime? Try watching Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations, The Layover, Planet Earth and Departures And, let’s not forget Hulu: Anthony Bourdaine’s No Reservations, Basic Versus Baller: Travel at Any Cost and Gaycation.

5. Cook an International Recipe

If you’re stuck at home or willingly spending some down time, you’ve got to eat, right? Trying out a new recipe is a great way to introduce yourself to a different culture and change up your daily routine. I mean, I love eating cereal for breakfast like everyone else, but challenging a new recipe that I learned from my travels or of a destination I want to go to is a great feeling. Plus, there’s so many great online cookbooks and food bloggers out there, that you’re bound to find a recipe from any place in the world. Here are some go-to recipes I recommend: American/New Orleans: Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta with Smoked Sausage Italy: Creamy Tuscan Chicken Vietnam: Sinh To Bo / Avocado Milkshake Japan: Gyudon

Tip

Don’t feel like cooking that challenging recipe? Why not order in from a local restaurant that’s not your usual? You’ll be helping out a local business and trying a dish from a different culture!

Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

6. Learn a New Language

Learning a language is one of the greatest ways to keep an idle mind active. If you’ve followed me from my WordPress(.)com days, you’ll know that I’ve studied (well, I’m still studying) and speak Japanese. Japanese was a language that I stumbled upon out of sheer fate when I was about 14 or 15, and I’ve kept the language a part of my life ever since. Heck, Japanese is the reason why I’m an expat in Japan right now! That’s why I’m a huge advocate for language learning. Learning a language is a hard task, and one that will probably take a lifetime before fluency if you seriously want to speak the language, but it’s a great way to prepare for a trip as well. Before every trip, I try to learn a little of the destination’s language to show respect for the culture and have a little linguistic back-up if things get funky. I’m not a fluent speaker by the start of the trip, but I do feel a little safer being able to convincingly ask for the bathroom. Over the years, I’ve used a ton of textbooks and mobile apps for language learning, but whether you’re a short-time learner or committed for life, there are some great free and paid resources for you to use. Rosetta Stone: I think almost everyone knows Rosetta Stone, but its peak popularity was probably about 10 years ago. It can be an expensive program as each language has a number of leveled steps to fluency, but reviews have shown that the results are worth the price. Duolingo: I’ve used Duolingo to refresh my Japanese, study Korean (which I need to get back to, by the way) and crash-study French when I studied abroad in Switzerland. The free mobile app teaches you the language basics, which is perfect for a short vacation in a foreign country.

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7. Try Out a Little Culture

Even in the most obscure and small towns, you can find foreign culture if you look hard enough for it! When I moved to Fukui, Japan, I was really bummed thinking I wouldn’t be able to continue my love of Latin dance. Little did I know, Fukui is a great epicenture for all things Latin America because of its huge Brazilian-Japanaese population. I’ve been able to find latin dance groups, hulu dance classes, martial arts classes and many other hobbies in the small rural prefecture I call home. 

Whether you’re living out in the middle-of-nowhere, or in the center of a bustling city, venture out and find a little culture for yourself! It’s really only a Google away. Even better, now that video-chatting has become a tried-and-true way to has classes and communicate, why not find a group online and have virtual meetings?

Tip

Apps like MeetUp and Groupon are great ways to try out new things with new friends or on a budget.

8. Listen to International Music

There’s a saying out there somewhere about how music is good for the soul–or maybe that’s just what I think? Whatever the case, apps like Spotify or Apple Music and YouTube are great ways to stumble on international music.

Have you been avoiding the K-pop wave that has taken over the U.S. these past couple of years? Fall down the K-pop rabbit hole on YouTube and there’s bound to be something you like! YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music all have great selections of music for you to choose from and get lost in. 

My personal music recommendations are Urban Zakapa, an indie-like Korean group that has a chill sound and powerful vocals and Utada Hikaru, a Japanese-American soloist who has sung for some of the most popular Japanese video games.

9. Play Travel Board Games

Board games are a great way to travel to a different location–a different world–without leaving your home! Games like Tokkaido, Citadels, Jaipur and Passport to Culture are great to play when you’re grounded after a long trip or have no plans for the day.

10. Look Through Old Travel Photos

If you’re like me, you go on a trip or travel to a dream destination, take pictures of EVERYTHING and then–you get home and leave it stored on a memory card, hard drive or somewhere deep down in a box never to be seen again. 

Don’t be like me. 

Take this time to pull out that folder of travel pictures and relive the experience! If you haven’t bombarded your friend’s and family with epic travel photos, now’s the time to do it. Also, this is a great way to clear some space on your memory card or hard drive for your next trip. 

11. Read Travel Blogs

This wouldn’t be a travel blog if I didn’t suggest you go and read more travel blogs to get the wanderlust juices flowing. Travel blogs are a great way to not only travel from home, but also to plan for your next trip. These blogs are researched and written painstakingly by people who love to do what you love to do, too: travel! I might even venture as far as to say that writing a travel blog is a carefully mixed art of providing the information that travelers want to read while telling the actual travel story, and it often requires these travel bloggers to take notes or even write blog posts on their trip. Other than checking out my other articles on destinations like Japan or Vietnam, and reading tips on living abroad, I recommend checking out these great travel bloggers: The Blonde Abroad, The Awkward Traveller, Charlies Wanderings, I Am Aileen, LiveLoveRunTravel and Tayaramuse.

12. Watch Travel Videos on YouTube

When I’m at home and not traveling (or working), one of my favorite pastimes is to watch travel videos. From cinematic to vlog style, YouTube has so many great and informative travel videos about any country or experience you could possibly imagine. Many travel bloggers and travel guide locals have actually joined the ranks of YouTube’s most popular video makers, so the depth of information is endless–usually all wrapped up in stunning visuals and dramatic soundtracks.

Some great YouTubers that I like to watch are Benn TK for cinematic videos, and Leah of AwaywithWind, an up-and-coming YouTuber that makes great, informative vlog style travel videos about Japan.

13. Get Lost on Instagram

After reading all of those travel blogs, the next best thing to do is scroll endlessly through Instagram. Instagram is a great way to get inspiration for planning your next trip, or for scoping out locations tagged by locals. 

Before I start planning any trip, I think about what kind of destination I’d like to travel to. Instagram’s photo-based platform is a great way to see a destination–well, the “good” parts, at least–and get a feel for how popular it is during any given season or year. 

I try not to stay on Instagram too long, but here are some travel Instagrammers that I recommend: @TheSheGoesAgn, @SolarPoweredBlonde, @SaltInOurHair, @SeoulBB, @InKimono and @Veggiewayfarer.

14. Start Planning Your Next Trip

Remember how I mentioned getting lost in Instagram? That is also the perfect start to planning your next trip! Planning a trip, international or domestic, can be a big task from researching locations to explore to figuring out where you’re going to eat (perhaps one of the most important parts of a trip). Not everyone is good at or comfortable planning a trip, but anyone can do it!

First, just start! Figure out where you want to go and start Googling from there. You’ll find a plethora of resources such as travel blogs, Instagram posts, Pinterest pins, and YouTube videos to get you excited about your next adventure.

Planning a trip anytime soon? Check out my travel guides and Pinterest to give you a bit of wanderlust!

Lastly, although it may not give you the wanderlust and travel inspiration you were looking for, try to get outside and explore your local area! Oftentimes, we forget to be tourists in our hometowns and countries, missing out on all the great things there is to offer in our own backyards. Try to get out there and be a tourist in your city–you never know what awesome things you’ll find!

Have any other tips or comments about traveling without leaving the comforts of your home? Feel free to comment below!

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8 thoughts on “How to Travel the World Without Leaving Home”

  1. What a perfect way to travel as we are all in a lock down mode these past 6 months or so. Loved your tips and will certainly do a few virtual tours to sate my travel lust which has been burning these days but……. 🙂

  2. Some great ideas here, although I think I’m the biggest fan of #14… planning my next trip for when I can travel again. Looking through old photos is really nice though, I sometimes forget some of the amazing places I’ve been. I should have been using 2020 to be more productive to learn a language or something. I guess there’s still time

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