Proof that you can still explore the world and satisfy that culture craving without stepping foot outside.

By Maggie Seaver
March 18, 2020

Nothing can ever replace the experience of traveling somewhere new and exciting in person. But exceptional circumstances—be they logistics-related or in light of current global travel restrictions to quell the coronavirus pandemic—call for some travel ingenuity.

Being a responsible citizen by voluntarily self-isolating and social distancing isn’t always easy. Beyond preventing everyday social interaction, it means no concerts, museums, sightseeing, or flying for weeks—maybe months. Even self-avowed homebodies and introverts get stir crazy from an eight-week self-quarantine recommendation. After all, distance makes the heart grow fonder—and yes, that can also apply to your relationship with the couch.

If you’re bummed about having to cancel recent travel plans, craving a diversion from understandable anxiety, or simply getting antsy at home in isolation, these genius “travel” ideas can help scratch that itch for arts, culture, and adventure. While you may not be able to travel the country or the globe right now, here are a few inventive ways to bring global destinations into your home (no shoes or passport required!).

RELATED: As Long as You’re Social Distancing, You Might as Well Do It Right—Here’s How

1
Take a Virtual Museum Tour

Google Arts & Culture has partnered with 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to offer virtual tours and interactive, guided exhibits. Experience MoMA’s Sophie Taeuber-Arp exhibit or see a live, 360-degree street view of Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. 

Speaking of Paris, head to the Louvre website, which offers guided exhibit tours online—the hall of Egyptian Antiquities is truly right at your fingertips. Many museums, like MoMA, also offer rich YouTube pages with snippets of current and past exhibits, short documentaries, and tons more. It’s no literal trip to Paris, but it’s the next best thing.

For more ideas, here are 12 Famous Museums That Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take From Anywhere, from our friends at Travel + Leisure.

2
Go on a Simulated National Park Tour

Maybe a (virtual) excursion in the great outdoors is more your speed. In that case, Google Arts & Culture really comes through again with The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks experience. Follow veteran park rangers on virtual, gorgeously sensory guided tours of sites like Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, or Dry Turtle National Park in Florida. You can also check out Google Earth for more insanely cool 360 digital wonders, like guided tours of 31 U.S. national parks, night sky charting with NASA, or deep-sea exploring across with marine life around the world. Beyond Google, Yellowstone National Park is another option, with amazing simulated experiences of its famous natural attractions like the mud volcanoes and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

3
Get Lost—in a Travel Podcast

While you clean, organize, exercise, or stare at the ceiling, take your mind elsewhere with a fabulous travel podcast. “Travel With Rick Steves” is a weekly one-hour chat with experts on all things travel, and it’s been going strong since 2014. Another fan favorite is “Jump” with Traveling Jackie (formerly “The Budget-Minded Traveler”), full of advice and inspiration for all things travel, adventure, and lifestyle. A few more: “Amateur Traveler,” “Indie Travel Podcast,” and “Betty in the Sky With a Suitcase!”. Find your favorite and let it take you places.

4
Take a Language Course

Make the most of your free time at home by taking an immersive language course. App courses like Babbel, Mondly, and Memrise make learning a new language from home (or wherever you are) much easier than taking an in-person course.

5
Travel Through Cooking 

Pick up a global cookbook, or one featuring recipes and flavors native to a foreign place you’ve always wanted to go. You can also stream incredible cooking and pastry classes through services like Masterclass (head to Mexico through food with chef Gabriela Cámara, or make perfect French croissants with Dominique Ansel). The New York Times offers cooking lesson videos for subscribers, like chef and author Samin Nostrat’s Persian Herbed Rice With Tahdig. And, of course, you can always head to Real Simple Cooking School for versatile (and free!) recipe ideas.

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