Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Friend: “Where are you traveling to next?”
Me: “Ummm, the living room...later on the supermarket to spice things up”
You catch my drift, right? While Rona told all of us to take several seats these past few months, I had to quickly figure out how I am actually going to make it through without traveling. Traveling for me has always been my main means of
So the big question became: How can I still accomplish these things while not traveling? How do I “travel” without actually traveling?
Well, a major pivot had to happen. And with this pivot, I have been able to still get some of my travel fixes without having to actually travel. I am here to tell you that you don’t need to learn a new language. You don’t need to learn to cook an elaborate dish. You don’t need to put the extra pressure on yourself that social media creates.
Table of Contents
Below are 15 SIMPLE ways to cure your travel bug coming from someone who is super busy and personally used this extra time in the pandemic to slow down:
1. Travel virtually through Instagram
Instagram is a very visual platform. As a result, it is a great place to access travel content. Personally, my travel account feels like an escape as all I follow are travelers there. Whether I scroll my phone and look at the photos posted, watch people’s Instastories, and IGTV of their latest travels (or a throwback to past travel adventures) OR the latest with reels, I have used Instagram to travel to many new locations or reminisced about past travel locations through Instagram.
While many travelers have pivoted their content in some ways (including myself) to local explorations, I appreciate that pivot as I have been an advocate of local exploration and domestic travel before it became a trend. Now, I am getting to learn about hidden gems that I am adding to my growing list.
TIP: Create a growing bucket list on your phone. It can as simple as taking note of the city and country and writing down must-try restaurants your favorite traveler ate at during their recent adventure because their meal looked so delicious in their Instastories. It can be noting the name of the tour guide they used on their trip. Here is an example of what I do. I know I have about 3 notes worth just from this!
My 3 fave right now for overall travel content:
@walkwithmswalker: Check her out as she is out there catching flights to both domestic and international locations during this pandemic while doing it safely!
@thatmiagirl: Check her out right now for hidden gems all across the USA. From soaking in hot springs to exploring national parks to staying in a wagon, she has been showcasing it all!
2. Explore Locally
During the first 4 months of this pandemic, I BARELY left home. However, as the summer came and rates declined in New York State, I felt comfortable starting to expand my explorations beyond my bedroom and living room. Local explorations have increased my love and appreciation for my home city and home state. This has also allowed me to get the travel feels without traveling far -- I still get the joy of researching, planning itineraries, and exploring new locations. This time has helped me realize how many green spaces and free things there are to do in New York City. I also have gained an appreciation for neighboring cities and towns such as Yonkers and Long Island. I have also been getting lots of ideas by following other travelers who live in NYC who have pivoted to local content
TIP: Follow travelers from your hometown on IG. Also, search hashtags for your home city. Doing this will help you get lots of unique ideas beyond the usual touristy stuff on Google. However, don’t knock the touristy stuff either as they are popular for a reason, and now is the best time to explore them when there are fewer outsiders in your home city.
My 3 fave right now for New York City or New York State local explorations (that is my backyard!):
@dominicanabroad: Check her out if you are looking for places to explore beyond NYC. She has been doing so without having a car, which becomes trickier outside of NYC.
@latinachictravels: Check her out for lots of ideas for outdoor events, rooftop bars, and skyline views.
@secret_nyc: Check this out for the best insider tips, plans, and inspiration in New York City.
3. Watch Travel Shows or Movies
If you can’t travel in real life, why not travel virtually? I love to travel through food! Since I am not going to restaurants much, I appreciate the show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives even more. Ironically, I first stumbled on this show watching from a hotel room back in 2012. I haven’t looked back since and now I watch it with my notes open on my phone ready to take notes. This show allows you to see signature dishes of very unique spots around the country as well as customer feedback.
TIP: Netflix is a great place to find travel shows and documentaries. Looking for some ideas? Check out these lists (DISCLAIMER: Since I haven’t watched many of these, I can’t tell you how good this list is)
My fave 3 top lists for travel shows on Netflix right now:
4. Join virtual webinars & conferences
What better time to learn than now! Many influencers and organizations have been providing virtual webinars and conferences during this time. Even better, many have been offering it for free. Whether you want to learn how to become a better travel blogger, optimize your SEO, or how to travel for less, there is a ton out there. Let’s come out of this pandemic an improved version of ourselves!
TIP: If you are unable to attend live, don’t fret. Many send replays to their webinars if you are unable to watch. Therefore, register for the webinar anyway!
My 3 fave sources for FREE travel webinar series:
Dip Your Toes In: Watching the School Daze Series is a must! During this pandemic, Dip Your Toes in on IGTV released several videos ranging from “Top Hacks for Building a Website” and “Pitching Articles to Publications”
Black Travel Alliance: With the goals of Alliance. Amplification and Accountability, they have replays of workshops including “Using Your Niche To Build An Engaged Community” and “How To Elevate Your Business With SEO”. Replays can be found on YouTube
Black Travel Summit: A few months ago, they hosted the 'STAY-CATION' Black Travel Webinar. They still have the replay posted on their Facebook featuring topics such as “The Effects of Social Media and the Black Travel Experience” and “Travel & COVID-19 - The New Normal in Travel”
5. Create Travel Content
I will admit that the blessing of this pandemic for me has been slowing down. As a result, I have had time to produce more travel content. Since March, I have written 35 blog posts! Prior to that, I had not published a blog post since December. I love blogging as it allows me to reflect on past travels, share my joy with others, create a travel journal for myself and others, but most importantly, help others travel through educating and inspiring others. I am very proud of the amount of authentic and consistent content I have put out on this time and hope to continue this -- although sometimes work still gets the best of me! Putting out this content amidst two pandemics -- COVID-19 and racism has pushed me to reflect on my blog’s purpose. This has allowed me to shift and rebrand my blog -- from my logo to my goals and I am super proud of that.
TIP: What better time than now to start a blog, vlog, Instagram recounting your past travels? Stop listening to the inner excuses in your head and just do it!
My 3 Favorite Blog Posts that I have published during this time are:
6. Watch Youtube Travel Vlogs
I will admit that I have not been much of a YouTuber, and I still am not. However, during this pandemic, I did find certain travel content worth watching to the point that I was waiting for when the next content would be released!
TIP: Use Instagram to help you discover your favorite YouTubers. Many use Instagram to advertise their content.
My 3 Favorite Youtube Travel Channels right now are:
Afrowanders: This channel is for people who are interested in exploring the state of travel, nature, and local life for Black people all over the world.
The City and Beyond: This Black traveling couple shows others how to correctly part-time travel as you work full- time. During this pandemic, the quality of their content has grown -- check them out for trip inspirations and travel guides.
Traveling with Niqua: This channel provides the latest and best travel tips, tricks, advice, and hacks. Niqua shares her journey throughout the world, both domestically in the US and internationally and her home country, the British Virgin Islands.
7. Check out Pinterest
I did not take Pinterest seriously until this pandemic. Pinterest has EVERYTHING -- not just travel. For travel, you can find everything from travel quotes to travel guides and the most Instagrammable spots in a city. You can find yourself literally on Pinterest for hours, as one pin leads to another, leads to another. Pinterest is great also for collecting ideas for planning and researching a future itinerary.
TIP: Organize your boards into different travel themes such as “Fall Travel,” “Road Trips,” “Travel Photography,” and “Christmas Travel.” That way, when you need to reference a pin, it is easy to find!
My 3 favorite Pinterest boards right now:
Micro-cations | Weekend Getaways: Check out this board for planned travel guides to places around the world from a 1-day itinerary to a 5-day vacation! Whether you are somewhere for 24 hours or 72 hours, you can explore it thoroughly!
Travel for Foodies: The best way to know a place is through its people and their food! Like exploring a destination through its cuisine? Check out the most detailed foodie travel guides featuring tips on what to eat, meals for travel, the best restaurant to eat, local foods to try, drink and experience different cultures all across the world.
Graffiti Street Art Travel: Looking to find some awesome street art while traveling? Love to pose by colorful street murals? Check out this board for lots of ideas on all things street art while traveling! Where can I find the best street art in a city or country? What is the most instagrammable street art?
8. Create a Travel Memento
Travel creates a lifetime of memories. Very often, those memories just live in our heads. If you are like me, you have tons of photos, but they are all living in a virtual space. You may have lots of souvenirs from past travels...but sitting in a box. Now that you are sitting at home, why not create a physical memento? Some things you can do are create a scrapbook (either the arts & crafts kind or use online platforms such as Shutterfly to create a scrapbook to print), create a photo album, create a souvenir corner in your home, or create a wall gallery with photos or art from past travels.
TIP: A unique physical travel memento is a travel jacket. I saw this idea on Instagram and ran with it by creating my own jean jacket featuring a flag patch for every country I have been to so far in the order I have traveled. You can do this by ordering patches from the same website for a consistent look like I did or you can buy a patch as a souvenir when you travel. Most souvenir shops sell travel patches. You can collect travel patches based on countries visited, states visited, national parks visited, etc.
My 3 Favorite Travel Souvenirs to Collect are:
Christmas Ornaments: This has become my newest fascination, rather than my prior collection of shot glasses. This is the easiest to carry, but can sometimes be hard to find. Your easiest bet is at the airport or in your typical touristy shop. However, some local markets sell them as well. If you can’t find one, you can buy a keychain, magnet, or other item and turn it into an ornament.
Jewelry: I love this as it allows me to have a very unique jewelry collection. Very often people will ask, “Where did you get that?” and it brings joy for me to say “I bought it in x location.” Jewelry styles vary based on the country, so that also tells a story.
Art Work: This has also been my most recent fascination. I love artwork from local artists -- it is a great way to support local businesses and every work tells a story. I cannot wait to create an “art gallery” in my home!
9. Rack up Travel Points
This is the PERFECT time to save now to travel later. Just because you are not traveling now, doesn’t mean that you can’t save for later travel expenses. Racking up travel points is an easy, mindless way to save. All it requires is having a credit card that allows you to acquire travel points when you spend on everyday items. I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which allows me to earn 3x points on travel worldwide (this is broad -- it includes uber rides and MetroCards), 3x points on dining at restaurants worldwide, and 10x points on Lyft rides.
TIP: Use a travel credit card for all of your everyday purchases. Make sure to pay your card at the end of the month. Do not spend more than you can afford. Instead, use your card for what you were going to pay cash for. That way you are earning points that can then be used to pay for trips.
Check the Points Guy for the top 3 travel credit cards of 2020
10. Take a Virtual Tour
A virtual tour is a unique way to experience travel without leaving your bed or your couch. Many museums, zoos, national parks, and other locations are offering virtual tours for you to take advantage of.
TIP: Looking to virtually tour a country? Check out Latino World Travelers on YouTube who have been hosting Virtual Parties every day during the pandemic, but now is hosting it less frequently. All of their past virtual parties are uploaded on Youtube, where they feature a location through the lens of a Latino World Traveler.
Three listings of virtual tours right now are:
11. Eat International Cuisine
I LOVE to travel through food. Not only is it tasteful, but it is also a unique way to learn about the culture, history, and unique flavors of a specific country. While you may not be able to have a crepe in France or a chicken tikka masala in India, you can bring those flavors to your home! You don’t have to become the next Gordon Ramsey during this pandemic, although if you enjoy cooking, go for it! Research recipes of some of your favorite international cuisines and make that dish! If you don’t want to cook, you can order takeout -- it is a great way to support a local business and take a break from cooking.
TIP: Considering that this pandemic is stretching longer than we anticipated, outdoor dining is a good alternative. This provides an opportunity for you to leave your home without traveling far. Looking for Italian cuisine? Check out the Little Italy of your city or state. Looking for Indian cuisine? Search for a local Indian restaurant with outdoor dining or order to go and take it home!
Three locations to eat international cuisine in NYC:
Head to Little Italy in the Bronx or Manhattan for Italian Cuisine
Head to Little Caribbean in Brooklyn for various Caribbean dishes
Head to Chinatown in Manhattan for Chinese Cuisine
12. Read Travel Blogs
As a writer of travel blogs, I also love to read travel blogs! Travel blogs provide a wealth of information from a first-hand perspective. You can learn what restaurant you must check out or what place to avoid visiting from someone who has already been. It provides an insider scoop! If you love to read information instead of watching it, travel blogs are the way to go.
TIP: Subscribe to your favorite travel bloggers newsletter. That allows you to not only support them, but it allows you to be the first to be notified when they post a new blog post.
Three travel bloggers that I am subscribed to their newsletters right now are:
She Travels by Sarah Arnstein: Check her out as she shares her adventures living in Montana -- she has guides for Bahamas, Italy, Poland, and the USA including Chicago and Yellowstone National Park
The Pursuit of Flyness by Naa Adei: I stumbled on this travel blog during this pandemic and I am so happy. This blog provides a very authentic voice and perspective while dropping helpful knowledge on her travels. I appreciate it as very few blogs I have come across speaks much to traveling while Black or traveling to support Black.
Escaping NY by Cassandra Brooklyn: EscapingNY offers authentic, off-the-beaten-path travel planning and group tour services for travelers looking for non-touristy cultural experiences that emphasize cycling, hiking, food tours, and engaging with locals. Cassandra writes about these authentic experiences on her website and for various travel websites.
13. Listen to Travel Podcasts
I first got into travel podcasts because of my long commutes to work. I also enjoyed listening to them while on the plane. Now, that my commute is eliminated working from home, I will admit I have not listened to podcasts as consistently. However, I know for some, travel podcasts is the way to go. It allows you to listen to learn, listen to escape, listen to listen. You can listen to a travel podcast anywhere, anytime. The beauty of a travel podcast is you don’t have to watch a video so you can listen to a podcast while working on something else.
TIP: Subscribe to your favorite podcast. This will allow you to automatically see when the latest podcast comes out.
My 3 favorite travel podcasts to listen to are:
Point Noir: Hosted by Jerry The 3rd, this provides travel and adventure stories for men of color, told by men of color. You do not have to be a man of color to benefit from these stories. I found them super inspiring and engaging, having listened to nearly all 80+ episodes.
Let’s Go Together: Hosted by Kellee Edwards, an award-winning travel expert, this is a new podcast from Travel + Leisure, featuring diverse voices sharing their unique travel experiences and inspiring others to explore the world.
Soul Society 101: This podcast is travel, food & culture from the lens of young black professionals and creatives! Each episode includes a special guest while sharing inspirational stories, diving into black pop culture, dropping travel gems, and in between talking smack and cracking jokes. Very entertaining while informative.
14. Participate in Virtual Travel Groups
With everyone isolating themselves at home, living through a pandemic can feel very isolating. However, it does not have to be! I highly recommend joining travel groups on Facebook. It allows for easier engagement and discussion to “e-meet” people as well as feels part of a group with others with similar interests. The best part, you can choose how much or how little you want to engage!
TIP: Some groups have both a public and private group -- always try to get into the private group as that is where there is more engagement.
My three favorite travel groups to engage with are:
Latino World Travelers: Their goals are to inspire Latinos to travel the world, especially their countries of origin, empower non-travelers to go out of their comfort zones by exploring a culture other than their own, build a community of wanderlusters and share in our collective experiences.
Nomadness Tribe: NOMADNESS is an award-winning travel lifestyle brand. They represent the underrepresented demographic in mainstream travel. Their mission is to show the world that travel has no racial, gender, religious, economic, or interest limitations through community representation and relevance.
Visit All 50 States: This is for travel fans who want to (or already have) visit (or visited) all 50 states in the USA! It is a space for people to share pictures, advice, stories, with others who share the same goal.
15. Plan & Research Future Itineraries
Who says that you need to have a trip booked to plan a trip? As the saying goes, “you plan to fail if you fail to plan.” You can take that growing bucket list on your phone from all those Insta Stories or YouTube videos you are watching and prepare itineraries. Plan out what restaurants you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Research and select the top tourist sites and hidden gems you want to see. It helps to figure out in advance where everything is in proximity to each other so that you can map out the order of things. It also can’t hurt to search for flights and hotels just so you have an idea of average costs.
TIP: Create a folder on your computer or Google drive to save these itineraries. I save each itinerary as a separate document!
My 3 fave blogs right now for FREE detailed guides & itineraries
Oneika the Traveler: She is the ultimate queen in the travel blogging space. Although she does not blog much anymore, her blog features posts from her travels to over 100 countries and 6 continents.
The Next Somewhere: Since coming across her blog post through Instagram, I have loved following her for her travel content on her blog -- including her Top 5 Things to Do in various cities around the world ranging from Stockholm to Cape Town to Medellin. She also has several comprehensive city guides, such as Boston, San Diego, and Vietnam!
Franny the Traveler: Yes, I am doing a shameless plug for myself haha but why not! I know my worth and during this pandemic, I have been consistently putting out great content. I have detailed travel guides for various places around the world ranging from Egypt, Iceland, Vermont, and everywhere in between.