Armchair Travel: How to Get Your Travel Fix from Home
Traveling after finishing one’s degree is a time-honored tradition. After 16 (or more!) years of education, many recent grads look forward to seeing more of the world.
After graduation has always felt like the perfect interlude to travel, explore, and most importantly, get to know oneself better – after all, no amount of schooling can prepare you for being lost in a foreign country on your backpacking route!
Across the country, many recent grads, and UVic grads as well, have had to postpone their travel dreams. It’s hard to think of the alternative, non-COVID-19 universe where 2020 grads would be jetting off on what would be some of the first solo adventures of their adult lives.
That being said, there’s plenty of ways to connect with your love of travel from home. In fact, now is a great time to research destinations that you want to visit, but don’t know enough about, or find new places that you want to explore. If you’re pining for a cancelled trip, or just looking forward to when travel is an option again, check out these tips sure to help any armchair adventurer ease their travel fix.
1. Check out a travel guide
In the days of the internet, a travel guide may seem passé, but travel writing is an art form perfected by a slew of travel journalists.
Unlike many bloggers, travel writers are hired by a company to cover the same country or region in edition after edition, so their knowledge is more in-depth than your typical blogger. They often speak the local language and can offer you comprehensive information on how the area has changed, improved, (or yikes, worsened) over time, including their perspectives on how “touristy” a location has become that may be left out of other media.
If your library is doing contactless service, check out their website for available reads, and give them a call to do a curbside pick-up. Or if you’ve got an E-reader or Kindle, several travel guide e-books from trusted sources like Lonely Planet are now available for $0.00 (thanks corona!).
If you prefer to read on your computer, Scribd has a 30-day free trial that allows you to download infinite books, including travel guides for Kyoto, Argentina, Cambodia, and many more. If you’re home with your family, peruse the living room bookshelves for travel literature. You might find an engrossing read with some great information about your next destination.
2. Peruse travel hashtags on Instagram
Some people are more visual learners. If you’re looking for a more general travel fix, or to virtually discover new places, try following certain tags: to start, #travel on Instagram has more than 488 million posts, so you’re sure to find something you like.
There’s lots to critique about Instagram travel – tourist-y, travelling only to take photos, superficiality, cringey “take me back” captions etc. – but man, are there some amazing photos on there.
Start an album of potential locations (this works on Pinterest too!) and see if you can discover a couple new travel accounts to refresh your feed. I’ve discovered some great accounts by searching tags, such as @hownottotravelpod, a podcast about traveling sustainably and ethically.
Looking for a little animal/travel crossover? Try #adventurecat or #adventuredog to see the cutest pet travelers out there (@sukicat, the amazing travel adventures of an Alberta-based Bengal adventure cat, is my personal favorite). Be careful with this one though, insta-jealousy and pet-envy comes at you quick!
3. Check out backpacker sites
After this corona mess is over (yes, let’s stay positive here), we’re all going to be watching our money way closer than ever. If you’re looking to travel on the cheap, look no further than the myriad of backpacker blogs and websites that offer cost-breakdowns of popular destinations like Amsterdam, Rome, and Barcelona.
My personal favorite? The Saavy Backpacker, which features free guides to popular backpacking destinations, as well as packing lists for Europe, travel budgeting tips for avoiding scams, and so much more. Take notes!
4. Peruse Youtube
Similar to the Instagram-traveler vein, there are many great accounts on Youtube where you can follow along with travelers on their daily adventures. Finding new travel content this way might be the most enjoyable – travel vlogs can be informative, but mostly, they’re entertainment.
Beautifully shot videos of stunning destinations can be so soothing to look at when you’re stuck at home, and many travel vloggers on Youtube have a dedicated following not just because of their video-editing skills, but because of their personalities as well: Christine Kaaloa features informative travel content, and TylerTravelsTV is perfect for those Disney fans.
As someone who watches her fair share of these, you may just feel like you’ve made a new virtual friend (oof, that sounded less pathetic in my head).
5. Read travel forums
Sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor revolutionized the travel industry. Finding real reviews from other travelers just like you – not bloggers or influencers with sponsored content – is a refreshing way to check out certain sites in detail.
If you want to know how others felt about that buzz-worthy new restaurant in Sao Paulo or whether Venice in July is really worth it (I went in early December, and I had the place to myself!), peruse these sites. Once you’ve narrowed down your research to some specific destinations you’d like to check out, search that area’s top things to do on TripAdvisor, and read the reviews.
These sites also offer great travel forums, where travelers can ask each other specific questions about logistics and transport (when I first visited Vancouver for a concert and needed to navigate the transit system, these forums were a huge help!)
6. Try Travel TV
Although many university students don’t have access to cable TV, I thought I’d throw this one in as a bonus. If you’re a foodie who loves to travel, Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown explores the local’s side of underrated travel destinations. (The show is also available for purchase on sites like Youtube and Amazon Prime).
If you’re into archaeology and travel, check out Lost Cities with Albert Lin on National Geographic (also available on Disney Plus).
Although none of us can fulfill our travel dreams at the moment, there’s plenty of ways to discover new potential destinations, research and plan future trips, and even just enjoy some incredible travel videography from home.
If you’re pining for travel, check out some of these tips, pull open a Google Docs, and start planning for the day that you can travel again. With any luck, you’ll be well-versed before you even book your flight.
Happy armchair travel!