You know that feeling when you just want to go somewhere?
You want to travel, have an experience, try something new, and not spend the weekend watching Netflix and eating pizza.
I have this feeling often. But sometimes travel just isn’t realistic. Money and time are usually the biggest reasons I can’t travel, and I have an idea most people feel the same way. Unless you’re a professional traveler or were born a billionaire (in which case, be my friend) then these constraints probably come up in your life, too.
So when I was struggling with this feeling the other weekend I decided to look up something more local. I googled the coolest libraries in Bavaria and guess what came up. A town 30 minutes from me with an amazing church library and basilica. I’ve been living here for almost three years and had no idea this gem (pictured above) was around the corner!
Photos aren’t allowed inside the Waldsassen Abbey Library, but you can see from the website that it’s quite incredible. And the adjoining Waldsassen Basilica is wonderful as well. It’s an ornately decorated 17th century church that has royally dressed skeletons on display. These skeletons, or Holy Bodies, are said to be Christian martyrs exhumed from Roman catacombs.
My little excursion to Waldsassen to see these amazing places cost me less than $5 and gave me those feel good travel vibes without breaking the bank or taking too much time.
I got to thinking about all the ways you can still have an experience even if you can’t necessarily travel in the normal sense of taking a week off and heading to a far off destination. Even if you can’t travel, you can still do something fun and keep that wanderlust state of mind.
So without further ado, here are 25 things to do when you can’t travel.
1. VISIT A LIBRARY
- Even if you don’t have a historic library nearby, I think libraries are pretty cool in general. A university library can be a nice place to go on a weekend and curl up with a good book, and perhaps they have some first editions or a special historic collection that can be browsed.
2. FIND A FAMOUS FILMING LOCATION
3. TAKE A HIKE IN A STATE OR NATIONAL PARK
4. TOUR A BREWERY OR WINERY OR DISTILLERY
5. SEE A PLAY
- There might be a dinner theatre or a university production in your area.
6. GO TO A LOCAL MUSEUM
- Do you live in Tennessee? There’s a Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg. No lie. I’m sure you can find a weird museum near you.
7. VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SHELTER
8. DRIVE A SCENIC ROUTE
- Here’s a list of the most beautiful drives in each state for some inspiration. Skyline Drive in Virginia is a personal fave since that’s my home state.
9. MAKE A MEAL FROM SCRATCH (INSPIRED BY A DESTINATION)
- Have you always wanted to go to Japan? Try making sushi by hand. Do you dream about your one trip to Paris several years ago? Whip up some macarons. I always put on a Spotify playlist to match my cooking theme and it makes it more fun.
10. ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM AT A SPORTING EVENT
- You may not live in a big city with a major NBA or NFL team, but a minor league or college game can still be fun. I’ve always wanted to watch a Roller Derby game!
11. VISIT THE NEAREST ZOO
12. FIND THE BEST BRUNCH/COFFEE/COCKTAILS
- Pick your favorite of the above and look up the top-rated places in your area. Then set out to find out which is really the best of the best.
13. TAKE A COOKING CLASS
- When I lived in Florida the grocery store Publix offered cooking classes at certain locations, and you might want to check with gourmet food stores or specialty restaurants in the area to see what they offer.
14. ORGANIZE YOUR TRAVEL SOUVENIRS
- Make a scrapbook out of your old museum, travel, and entry tickets or get on Snapfish and make a photobook from your latest trip. Maybe find a place to display your Starbucks mugs from all the cities you’ve visited. Whatever your souvenirs are, find a way to display or organize them.
15. FIND SOME FRESH PRODUCTS
- Find your nearest farmer’s market, orchard, or farm and buy fresh produce, cider, eggs, jams, jellies, honey, or whatever might be special to your area. If you don’t have something like that you can try and find a store that sells local products.
16. RENT A BIKE
17. WATCH A TRAVEL DOCUMENTARY
- Check out this list of great wanderlust documentaries, but if you’re more into traditional movies here’s a list to give you some ideas.
18. PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP
- What’s your bucket list like? Start making those destinations a reality and get planning. I like to get a Google Map together of all the sights I want to see on my next trip and begin drafting a rough itinerary. You can also start identifying your budget and see what money need to set aside over the next few months to realistically pay for your trip.
19. OPT OUTSIDE WITH AN OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
- This can be as simple as an outdoor yoga class, or as crazy as skydiving! Can you go kayaking somewhere nearby? Fishing? How about having a picnic in a local park. Wherever you live, I’m sure there are ways you can opt outside.
20. FIND THE BEST VIEW
- In Europe the best views can usually be found from either a city’s church or sometimes an old castle. In the US you might find great views at a rooftop bar, top floor restaurant, or observation deck. There might be a great lookout point you can hike to locally.
21. READ A TRAVEL-INSPIRING BOOK
- This doesn’t have to be Rick Steve’s or Fodor’s. Reading Outlander inspired me to visit Scotland, and I loved reading Wild before I hiked the Appalachian Trail. Here’s a list to get you started.
22. TAKE A PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR
- Lots of cities on Airbnb offer experiences that involve photography. You can take a walking tour with a photographer who can help you learn about your camera and who also knows where all the great shots are. If you’re more small town do your own tour taking photos of the little things. Also check out Meetup for photography groups.
23. SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES
- Take a break from your normal routine and set out to support only local, family-owned businesses for a day. Make it a point to find a family-owned coffee shop, diner, boutique store, handmade jewelry vendor, bookstore, or even gourmet grocery. Shopping local reminds me of the speciality stores I usually stop in when I travel Europe, and it’s good for the community.
24. GO TO A FESTIVAL
- State fairs, fruit festivals, wine festivals, you name it. Look ’em up and head over.
25. LEARN ANOTHER LANGUAGE
- Duolingo is free to start, and your local library may offer Rosetta Stone through their online resources. You can think of this as a way to gear up for your next trip.
These 25 ideas should keep your wanderlust at bay until time and money allows you to travel again.
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