Got the wanderlust but you’re not able to travel anywhere at the moment? That’s okay – you can become an armchair traveler and explore all the places you want from the comfort of your bed.
You’ll need a computer or a smartphone, a good internet connection, and an idea of a place you want to explore. Nothing else is required for armchair travel, and if your interest is peaked, you can read all about armchair travel right here in this detailed guide!
Armchair travel is kind of like a staycation, but instead of exploring the local attractions, you don’t even have to leave the house. It’s discovering new places from the comfort of your chair, hence the term armchair travel.
It can include anything from looking over photos from your past trips to spending hours on Google Earth, walking around the streets of a city you’ve never been to. It’s pretty much just detaching yourself from your current surroundings and immersing yourself in things related to a different country so that for a moment you actually feel like you are there.
It’s as simple as reading a book about Paris while listening to Edith Piaf and eating a croissant.
Technology has come far enough to allow us to travel the world from the comfort of your own home. Well, not quite, but it’s almost there – you can explore the streets of any country in the world from the comfort of your bedroom, you can learn about the best restaurants, and you can even do virtual tours of museums and other famous attractions – you just have to zoom in enough on the world map. That’s the beauty of living in the age of virtual reality and 360-degree images.
I’m just getting started, and here are even more armchair travel ideas that will help you explore your dream destination from home!
Just because you can’t hop on an airplane and head to a new destination doesn’t mean you can’t learn about it and explore it. Reading travel blogs is a good way to explore new countries through the eyes and lenses of other travelers.
It’s a form of virtual travel that allows you to draw from other people’s experiences. The key is to find a travel blogger you can relate to and whose content you enjoy reading. Immerse yourself in their content, and sooner than you know it, you’ll become an expert on a destination you’ve never even visited.
There are thousands of travel blogs run by people from all around the world, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find at least one that you enjoy.
Most US National Parks offer virtual tours that are absolutely perfect for an armchair traveler. You can explore any national park you want from the comfort of your home, and you can even peek inside museums and other unique attractions that the national parks have.
Of course, it’s not the same as reaping the benefits of a hot spring inside a national park, but it’s a great way to explore nature and get to know more about the national parks. There’s also the added benefit of not having to deal with snakes, bugs, and the changing weather that’s so common in the NPs.
Head to the Google Arts & Culture website to see all the 52 national parks and historic sites from the US that have made their collections available for digital exploration. You can also see loads of other famous attractions from countries all over the world here, but more details on that later.
If you’re a bookworm, this is the easiest way to become an armchair traveler. Find some travel-related books that you enjoy reading and allow yourself to live in their worlds for the next few days.
Also, a travel-related book can be anything. It could be the autobiography of your favorite artist who recounts all the places life has taken him to, a proper travel guide to a different country, or even a fiction novel set in a foreign country.
Travel guides and coffee table books related to travel are the safest options if you’re not an avid reader. From travel guides through the US to detailed exploration of Italy’s best beaches – there are countless travel books out there, and you just need to search for one that’s about the destination you’re most interested in.
Those who prefer fiction have even more options. I can’t help myself and I have to recommend Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series – the popular crime novels are set in Norway, primarily Oslo, and the detailed descriptions of the city’s top sights will truly transport you to the Nordics for a moment.
Not a big fan of reading or watching TV? Put on a travel podcast then and listen to other people recount the details of their latest trips. You’ll hear some fun and interesting stories for sure, but you may also learn about the inconveniences that might arise should you choose to travel to the same destinations.
We Travel There is a great podcast hosted by Lee Huffman. He interviews locals from all around the world, so every episode is about a different city. The local attractions and best places to visit are usually highlighted in each episode, making this podcast worth checking out even when you’re planning a travel itinerary.
Where To Go is also a great podcast, mostly because it’s hosted by the team behind DK Eyewitness travel guides. They’re some of the best travel guides out there, and the podcast episodes truly give them a run for their money.
There are countless travel vloggers trying to make a living by doing the one thing they love most – traveling. You can support them and help them make their dreams come true by consuming their content and exploring the different countries of the world from the comfort of your own couch.
Finding a travel vlogger you like shouldn’t be too challenging, especially with so many different options out there. The key is to find a person you genuinely enjoy watching, otherwise, you won’t be able to focus on the travel destinations!
You can also find live camera streams on YouTube from countries all over the world. They usually include short snippets from various cameras, but it’s a great way to get a glimpse of distant landscapes and everyday life in foreign countries in just a few minutes. Plus, if you see a stream that you particularly like, you can always just find that specific live camera and refer to it whenever you want.
If you still enjoy learning and you’ve particularly interested in travel, why not enroll in a travel-related course. Working on yourself and furthering your education is always a good thing, and you never know what opportunities may present themselves after you’ve completed the course.
I’m not saying enroll in a five-year college course about tourism, but you can take various online and offline courses on a myriad of topics relating to travel. The best way to get started is to get acquainted with all the different diplomas and certificates that are relevant to the tourism industry.
There are dozens of them, and there are many ways to earn them, from attending free online courses to enrolling in MBA degree programs.
Learn what it takes to become a travel agent, get a certificate that allows you to be a tour guide in your hometown, or complete a flight attendant training program. There are countless travel-related courses you can take, and you just need to see which ones interest you the most. This can also increase your chances of getting a job with one of the travel companies if that’s something you are interested in.
Additionally, you can also enroll in language-related courses. They usually include learning about the culture, literature, and history of the country whose language you’re learning, plus learning a new language is always a great idea.
Exploring a new country means exploring its cuisine and getting to know all of its different flavors. So, if you’re feeling like traveling somewhere but you can’t actually go to that country, you can try to make it – or at least a tiny bit of it – in your own kitchen.
Turn to YouTube or one of a million different recipe websites, and find a dish you enjoy from the cuisine of the country you want to visit. Tacos will immediately fill the room with staple smells from South America, a good curry can never not remind you of India, and sushi is entirely self-explanatory.
So, if you can’t go on a trip right this minute but you’re desperate to at least feel like you’re traveling, just make your entire kitchen smell like a street full of food vendors from that country!
Sometimes it’s enough for a show to be filmed at the right location for it to become extremely popular. Emily in Paris proved that – despite the fact that the show was criticized for a number of different things, it remained extremely popular and mostly because of the fact that it’s filmed in Paris.
People love to tune in to see Lily Collins strolling down the cobblestone alleys of Montmartre and enjoying croissants with a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower, and I have to admit I’m also guilty of binging both seasons.
It doesn’t have to be a show about one specific city – there are countless travel shows that will satisfy your wanderlust for a moment, and many of them feature a different city or country in every episode. Put on some of Anthony Bourdain’s classics – No Reservations and Parts Unkown are still some of the best shows that combine food and travel!
The Grand Tour is another gem that covers remote destinations from around the world, and it’s particularly interesting for car lovers. But you don’t have to be into cars to appreciate the humor of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, and you certainly don’t need to know anything about vehicles to admire the spectacular landscapes that are featured in the episodes of this humorous travel show.
If you don’t want to commit to an entire TV show, you can just put on a travel movie. Into The Wild is a textbook example of a travel movie, and probably the best-known film in the genre. But a travel movie can be almost anything, as long as it’s set in the place that you’re yearning to visit.
I get the urge to travel to Sicily whenever I watch Godfather, and I doubt anyone would consider that a travel movie. But the beautiful landscapes that Al Pacino escapes to are so fascinating that, for a moment, it’s entirely possible to forget you’re watching a movie about mobsters.
The entire Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy showcases the beauty of spectacular European cities – Vienna, Paris, and Greece, in that order. Mamma Mia also depicts the beauty of Croatian and Greek islands, and it’s a great film to put on if you’re dreaming about a beach vacation.
Wild, starring Reese Whitherspoon, follows an inexperienced hiker setting out on the Pacific Crest Trail. The entire movie was shot on location, so it features the actual highlights of the iconic US long-distance hiking trail.
Some of the most famous museums in the entire world offer free virtual tours, and you should take advantage of that. J Paul Getty Museum, London’s Natural History Museum, and Musée d’Orsay in Paris have all made their collections available for virtual exploration.
Head to Google Arts & Culture again to go through the collections of these museums. You can even browse the various digital collections they have by genre or time period, so finding a collection curated specifically for you is easier than ever.
Learning an entirely new language is the best form of armchair travel. Not only does it get you closer to the culture of a country you’re fascinated by, but it’s also a way of developing a new skill that you can use for the rest of your life.
Learning a new language isn’t exactly the easiest thing you can do to satisfy your wanderlust, but it’s certainly the most useful one. You’ll particularly be happy you took up that happy if you manage to travel to the country whose native language you’ve mastered!
Also, keep in mind that learning a new language usually includes learning about the history and culture of that country, as well as reading a few books written by the nation’s most prominent writers. So, you’re not just learning how to talk to locals on your next trip, but you’re also getting a complete guide to the most important landmarks and attractions of the country you choose!
Do you already have a destination in mind for your next trip? Then why not start planning it right now. You don’t have to purchase airplane tickets if you’re not sure when you’ll be able to go, but it’s a good idea to start researching other details that will come in handy during your trip.
Look at hotels and AirBnBs to see where you would like to stay and be sure to check out all the top tourist attractions and things to do at the destination. You can even make little maps for any future trip, and you can refer to the map when you actually arrive at that destination.
If you often go on road trips, you already know just how much planning goes into them, if you want things to go smoothly. You can get a head start on your next trip right now – it will get you excited about the trip, plus you can plan out a good chunk of the road trip.
Nothing can transport you through time and place quite like a personal photograph. Blow the dust off your online albums and take the time to go through all the 2365 photos you took on that trip to Rio de Janeiro. It can’t be just me that takes a million photos wherever I’m in a new city, and it can’t just be me that never looks at them again.
Take the time to go through the old photos and choose your favorites. You can even print them out if you like and create a travel collage to hang on a wall. Or you can just turn them into a throwback post.
You can also use this opportunity to make room in your phone for photographs you’ll take on your upcoming trips. Delete any blurry shots, images you don’t like, or images that you have a dozen copies of, and create some space for the photographs of places you’re yet to visit!
Now that we all have amazing cameras in our pockets, it seems like we’re always taking photos, but never taking the time to go through them. Do you remember going through your childhood albums, and how happy you’d be when you saw that one photo you have a great memory of? Or when you looked at images from your travels as a kid?
You can still do that now, even if you’re a full-blown adult. You can even create an album if you want, but a travel scrapbook is a bit more fun. Go through the photos of the last (or any) place you visited, and select the ones you like the most and you want to have in your travel scrapbook.
If you need some travel inspiration, why not dedicate a few pages to every destination you visited. Print out your favorite photos with your friends and family, but also of the landmarks you liked and any places that stood out. Put all the photos in the scrapbook, and be sure to write little captions beneath the photos.
If you do go through with this, two decades from now, when your travel memories start to fade, you’ll be thrilled every time you lay eyes on your little travel scrapbook.
Why not try a travel-themed board game to satisfy your itch for a quick trip? Trekking The World is one of the best-selling board games out there, and it’s great for families and friend groups of up to five people. You play the game by racing to visit as many countries in the world as you can and you collect souvenirs along the way. It’s extremely fun, and a great way to learn about some of the most popular destinations in the world.
The World Game is a travel-themed card game for up to five players. It tests your knowledge of geography by asking you to name the capitals of countries, point them out on a map, or guess their flag. It’s a fun card game, but only if you’re into geography.
It’s worth noting that board games aren’t the only types of games you can play that are related to travel. If you’re into gaming, you’ve got even more options when it comes to armchair travel! Many recent AAA games are set in existing cities, and most of those open worlds are incredibly detailed and pretty true to life.
Not all the details will be identical, but it’s important to point out that the reconstruction of Notre Dame will be done with the help of Ubisoft’s drawings that they used to recreate the iconic church in their Assassin’s Creed Unity game.
You can walk through the streets of London, New York, San Francisco, Paris, Tokyo, and many other cities if you’ve got a computer that can run newer AAA games. If not, just try Geouesser – the online game is one of the best things for armchair travel, especially if you want to explore places off the beaten path.
If all else fails, turn to social media. Go on Reddit, Instagram, or even Facebook and find a group of like-minded travel enthusiasts with whom you can share travel stories and photos. This is also a great way to meet new people and make friends, and you could potentially travel with those people sometime.
But it’s a way of armchair traveling that only extroverts will consider, so it’s definitely not for everyone. You could be one of those people that lurk around the groups and forums, taking in all the stories and images, but not sharing anything with strangers.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.