Book Buyer and Idlewild Manager Natasha here! As someone who is always planning her next international trip, being both mandated to stay at home, and uncertain of when travel will next be feasible, I’ve found my restless, wanderlusting heart seeking for alternatives. In case you find yourself in the same boat as I, never fear! I have here rounded up some games, TV shows, and craft activities to take your mind away from your present environs and immersing them in others! Bon Voyage!

Fun and Games

Geoguessr

So simple, so fun. Travel the world without leaving your house (since you can’t anyway). This game plops you somewhere on Google Maps street view and quizzes you to guess where you are, and grades you based on how close you are. You can even play against other people! Super addictive, don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Tiny Cards
This is an app you can download on your phone, from the company that makes Duolingo. They have tons of sets of flashcards you can download once you’re in the app. Why not brush on world geography (can you name all the countries in Africa? How about all the world capitals?) while staying inside?

Culturegrams

It appears that the only way to access this for free is with a Brooklyn Public Library card (it doesn’t look like NYPL or Queens have this, but if I’m wrong, let me know!) BUT this nerdy resource is a fun way to travel the world a la 8th Grade Geography Bee-style (which I was runner-up for, obviously). Hear pronunciation of places, learn fascinating trivia about places, read up on cultural customs, traditions, holidays, and natural landmarks that you might want to visit on your next trip!

What to Watch if You Can’t Focus on a Book…

Richard Ayoade, host of Travel Man, and not fond of eating a lot of foreign foods.
Richard Ayoade, host of Travel Man, and not fond of eating a lot of foreign foods.

You know I have a stack of books to read, but after about the first week working from home, when I finished almost a book a night, between the stress and the uncertainty and the worn down attention span from working where I usually unplug, it’s been hard for me to finish more than a few pages a day. So until I get my groove back, I’ve been binging Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man (Hulu). I found a lot of comfort in this show. The premise is that actor Richard Ayoade (you might recognize him as Moss from The IT Crowd) goes on a weekend jaunt of just 48 hours in a city with a friend. Maybe part of what I enjoyed so much was how unlikely a travel companion someone like Ayoade seemed to be, he nerds out on technology and getting certificates (as when he goes to “Elf School” in Reykjavik) and doesn’t seem too keen on actual traveling. That oddness, pitted against his whip-smart banter and references, and actually helpful peeks into city streets that I haven’t been to offered lots of food for thought for future trips to plan. Not being able to travel is no reason to not do it vicariously with someone else! Also, seeing what activities someone else picks when they travel can really open your mind about what it is you might like to get out of a trip, and therefore plan one more mindfully.

If all you want is to get lost in a book, we have lots of great lists of suggestions (and workbooks for language learning!) on our Bookshop.org storefront!

Analog Activities

Here are some crafty ideas if you want to get away from a screen, and feel immersed in travels:

  • Go through your old scraps from travels – tickets, boarding passes, saved maps and brochures, and make a scrapbook, or framable art object (and send us pics!)
  • Find little objects around your house from travels, and make a little display! Some friends and I on a Zoom hangout last week marveled at how being in our homes for long periods of time caused us to notice with fresh eyes objects that we tend to look past all the time. A little bowl from a Japanese market that you store your keys in now? A tiny figurine from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar barely noticeable behind a stack of papers? Gather your global objects together and travel down memory lane!
  • Did you take notes when you were on your last trip? Or can you just remember some really funny experiences (getting lost, making new friends, learning about a quotidian thing in a destination that was very new for you)? Write them up! Try your hand at travel writing with a free class online or aim easier – find an old photo from the trip and paste your story as a long Instagram caption. Making sense of our memories and putting them to words can be a great way to self-soothe.
  • Practice memorizing or writing out a different alphabet! Starting small with just an alphabet can help you feel accomplished! Try a handful of the first grade kanjis (Japanese), the Korean Hangul alphabet, Greek, or how’s your Cyrillic? I personally have always found the Burmese script to be super beautiful.