What To Do When You Can’t Travel: 6 Ideas for Capturing your Wanderlust

Have you ever felt stuck where you are? Dreaming about traveling the world but not able to make it a reality? Heck, not even able to go camping for the weekend because you don’t have a car/tent/friends to go with?

I totally get it; I used to be that person who was sitting at home dreaming of a traveling the world (and getting jealous of anyone I saw on Facebook who did). My list of places I want to visit is definitely longer than places I’ve been, and I still dream of traveling more. But, for now, while I am not able to travel I’m enjoying my own back yard.

Travelling isn’t always a realistic short term goal for everyone, especially if have debt or are working your butt off in your career. Everyone has their own way of living life and prioritizing what they spend their money on, and others might not have a high enough paying job to save up for travel. This is why I want to share with you some awesome ways to capture that wanderlust spirit, no matter where you are.

1. Go anywhere you’ve never been before

The best thing I have done for my wandering spirit is to explore places I’ve never been before in the city I live in. Even if it’s a seemingly normal street I love checking out local coffee shops, businesses, and just people watching. I wrote a little more about this last month in my tips on ‘Free Things to Do in Vancouver’. Sometimes when I’m exploring I end up walking into a place that reminds me of being somewhere else; A train station that feels like Germany, a museum that reminds me of London, or a street that feels like Paris. I try to savour these moments as a reminder of where I’ve been and where I have yet to be.

2. Explore a cultural area

If you live in a city, or near a city, chances are there are different cultural pockets based on the people that live there. Chinatown is a common one, but there are also ‘little Italy’s’, ‘little Vietnam’s’, and ‘little Indias’ all over the world. Not only can you explore new food at amazing restaurants, these areas usually offer hard to find goods imported from overseas as well. Spend hours exploring new food, shops, art, and learning about the history of the people that shaped your city.

3. Make friends from a new country

If you live in a large city you probably already have friends or co-workers who have just moved to the country in the past few years. Why not take some time to have coffee with them and ask them specific questions about their culture? Even if they are from a country similar to yours, let’s say they came to Canada from England, you may be surprised at how many differences there are between these places and the things those new to the country find genuinely strange or interesting. If you want to travel to a specific country and would like to meet someone from there before you go there is also vast communities online in any niche you feel comfortable in.

4. Plan a themed dinner party

Eating food from around the world is easy in any city, but why not take it one step further and plan a dinner party with authentic food and decor. If you have a friend who can make a fabulous home cooked meal from their region of the world, even better. Try taking turns with a group of friends or co-workers hosting dinner for one another.

If you’re a huge fan of Gilmore Girls like I am you’ll remember that scene where Lorelai  “Brings Asia to Rory” after she’s not able to go on her trip there. They spend the whole night pretending they’re exploring places in Asia. Although the Asia stereotypes are a little cringe worthy I love the idea of pretending to be in another continent all while never leaving your living room.

5. Practice talking with strangers

When you travel, you often have to rely on strangers more than you’d like to. Especially if you’re shy like me you’d rather Google directions yourself or look at a map to know where you’re going. Unfortunately with traveling it is not always possible to do that… and even though you did print out the map directions ahead of time that does not always guarantee you will be able to navigate the streets of Vienna (true story). Wandering around looking really confused doesn’t always lead to friendly locals coming up to you attempting to help. But if you’re lucky it might. 😉 Plus if you practice this in your home country you don’t have to insert the awkward “Do you speak [blank language]” at the beginning of every conversation.

6. Learn Another Language

I’ve attempted to learn French both in a classroom setting and on my own, the most valuable aspect of having a teacher if the context and cultural nuances they teach you about the language. Any way you choose to learn, having another language as part of your life will surely make you feel like you’re in another place, even if you are just talking to yourself.

7. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and gain perspective on your own life. It can be an immense opportunity to learn from someone you may never normally encounter, whether it’s the elderly, those less economically fortunate, or those less able bodied. I would never have the ability to understand people and capacity for compassion that I do if it wasn’t for all the hours I’ve spent volunteering. It can also help you realize more of the dreams or passions you may have. Even if all you learn is what you DONT want.


I hope you find these tips helpful as you enjoy your time at home before you plan and dream for your next trip. What are fun things you like to do when you aren’t able to travel? I’d love to hear about them. AND if you try any of these out and have any picture, please post them to our Facebook page so I can share them with everyone.  Happy Wandering!

6 Comment

  1. My wanderlust is killing me right now, but I’m trying to save up for a big trip. These are great tips! I think it’s time for me to pick French back up.

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      I’d have that problem too, but luckily had hikes and beach days to keep me sane. 🙂

  2. I love the idea of just simply going somewhere you haven’t been before! It’s such an easy thing to do and it really doesn’t cost you anything since chances are, wherever you go is fairly close to you. This list is super helpful and I have a feeling I’m gonna wanna go somewhere pretty soon, but should keep my bum at home =]

    Danielle | http://www.FollowMyGut.com <3

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      It’s so easy! Helps that I live in an amazing place though! Even if you don’t just the cost of gas and a sense of adventure can take you far.

  3. I love thist post. Wanderlust is my first name. I’m always so jealous of people on Instagram and want to be traveling the world, but my student debt consumes my paycheck for now. Thanks for sharing this, I look forward to trying it out. 🙂

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      I feel you Anna. I think I’ll always have my student debt to keep me company. 🙁

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