I traveled to Bryce Canyon National Park for the first time in 2007. Because I have a fear of “edges,” this park was challenging for me. But when I ventured off the beaten path a bit and out of the popular, deep amphitheater, I found the trails that wound along the creeks, through the red rocks and into dripping caverns to be positively enchanting.
Every bend and curve in my route enticed me deeper and deeper into this wondrous country. It was probably the start of my addiction to the view over the next rise. And when you’ve acquired that affliction, it’s easy to feel stuck and deprived; especially now, when it’s imperative that we all stay home.
So, how do those of us who have a bad case of wanderlust cope with the deprivation? Below, you’ll find my 10 tips to help get you through the quarantine period.
1. Carry out closet cleaning—of the spring type
I’m using the shelter-in-place edicts to clean closets, drawers and accessory racks. Some of my items I will be donating, some I will sell to local stores and others will go straight into the trash.
And, through handling and thinking about all of these things, I travel.
I remember that shirt because I wore it on a hike in Argentina’s Patagonia region, and it performed well. These hiking boots? They really held up as they took me all over the Scottish Highlands. Unfortunately, this water bottle cracked in the equatorial heat of the Galapagos Islands. Out it goes. I then imagine what midlayers might be right for a hypothetical trip back to Churchill, Canada.
I’m not just cleaning and purging out of opportuneness and practicality; I’m also doing it to fuel my fire for traveling, although far-and-wide adventures aren’t anywhere on the horizon at the moment.
2. Tackle your tchotchkes
Now is a great time to work on your travel souvenir displays. Not only will your domicile benefit from the spruce up, but the richness of the circumstances about how you procured the artifacts and the stories that attach to them will encompass you and be an instant mood-booster every time you enter the room.
Whether it’s decorative clogs from the Netherlands or a tupilaq from Greenland, arranging your tchotchkes will help you reminisce about past journeys and take you “there” in your mind.
3. Roam your reading shelves
Instead of cruising or flying, you can be transported to foreign lands and unfamiliar habitats by reading the books that you’ve always meant to make time for and watching movies set in unaccustomed locations. I have stacks of books and lists of movies that never fail to spirit me away, starting with Robert MacFarlane’s essay on wild, chaotic places titled Mountains of the Mind.
4. Operate online
These past few months have been a primer on how to do almost anything virtually, and travel is no exception. There are countless travel videos online, but for something a little more interactive, try Google Earth. By doing a simple search, you can find several tutorials on how to use all of the program’s functions.
When you’re on street view in Google Earth, you can click on the human icon and put yourself in the perspective of walking down almost any street on the planet.
For virtual encounters with everything from African elephants to an “ultimate Belize odyssey,” jump in on some of Natural Habitat Adventures’ free Daily Dose of Nature webinars.
5. Visit virtually with friends in other locations
While you’re probably having regular FaceTime, Skype or Zoom check-ins with your family and close friends, this is also the perfect opportunity to get in touch with far-flung acquaintances you’ve met on your past, physical travels.
Set up some virtual dinner dates. They’ll help you get and keep in touch with folks around the world. By strengthening your network now, you might find that you have even more opportunities to discover other countries when we’re beyond the worst of the COVID-19 crisis.
6. Become a window-watcher
Since September 1987, Conde Nast Traveler magazine has featured a photo—at the end of every issue—taken from a hotel window and titled Room with a View.
From the Taj Mahal in India to the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada, perusing these images can ferry you away and temporarily soothe your wanderlust.
But be a window-watcher yourself—not from a hotel room, but from your own home. The world is still spinning and going on out there, even though it may not seem like it right now. If you want to take it a step further, share what you see with the Facebook group “View from My Window.” It will immediately expand your homebound world and make you realize how really lovely everyday views around the world can be—including yours.
7. Bear witness to wildlife
A few weeks ago, a fox and her three kits emerged from a woodpile in the treed area on the other side of my gravel drive. If that driveway had seen the usual, prepandemic traffic of my car and those of my neighbors going back and forth, I’m sure those foxes would never have shown themselves.
About the same time as when I first spotted the foxes, a robin began building her nest on the railing of my back porch. She’s only a few feet away from a glass patio door, and I have a front-row seat to her nest manufacturing, egg tending and—hopefully soon—mothering.
8. Fine-tune your photography skills
There’s another silver lining for avid travelers in the coronavirus era: we can use the time that was suddenly dropped into our laps to work on skills that might make our future travels even more rewarding: we can improve our verbal and visual storytelling.
Experiment with your camera’s settings and engage in more journaling activity to perfect your skills. Many local camera shops offer real-time, online instruction workshops and Q-and-A sessions.
9. Go on small safaris
COVID-19 has imbued the tiniest of travels with huge meanings. Treasure these small safaris.
Recently, I had to visit my local health clinic, which is located about 10 miles from my home. I hadn’t driven anywhere for weeks. But once in the car again and on the move, with all the windows rolled down, I felt instantly refreshed.
I must have taken this trip hundreds of times in the decades in which I’ve lived in my current home. But this time, it was special. I marveled at how amazing it is to be able to get from one place to another so quickly. I took great pleasure in feeling the fresh air blow over my skin, making the short, rural, interstate drive to another part of town an adventure that filled all of my senses.
Along the way, I saw One-Horse Hill—the secret name I’d given to a small mound in a fenced yard that always seemed to have a horse on it in happier, less complicated times—again. And on the other side of the road, I could hear sandhill cranes in the farm fields, in whose overhead skies I watched the year 2000 dawn.
Sheltering-in-place makes small safaris highly significant. I suggest you go on some.
10. Dream dramatically and plan profusely
I believe that one of the best parts of any trip is what comes before you actually leave: the anticipation of departing. While we’re required to stay home, we can still dream about and plan for future adventures.
This pandemic has certainly taught us that we can’t take the opportunity to travel for granted. So, start doing your research, pour over some world maps and begin to book some of your long-dreamed-of trips. The thousands of local communities who rely on tourism the world over will thank you for it.
To be continued
There will be a time—hopefully, in the not-too-distant future—when we’ll be able to physically travel again. In the meantime, fling open those closets and drawers, reevaluate your gear and rearrange those souvenirs from past adventures. Those items are inspirations for epic journeys to come. For now, you can travel by book, window, web and webinar. Go on short jaunts outside your home and have long dreams inside it.
The great thing about wanderlust is that it’s everlasting. It won’t dim and get dull with disuse. It’s still there, burning brightly inside you.
And, as Bryce Canyon National Park demonstrates, what’s over the next knoll will be just as knockdown wonderful—or even more so—than what you’ve seen before.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,