What to do when you CAN’T Travel Abroad

There are times in our lives when our wings are clipped.  The travel bug is scratching at your door, but for some reason (work, health, money) you are unable to travel.

Doesn’t it make you antsy when that happens?  Personally, it makes me feel like a caged lion, pacing back and forth.  Frustrated. Even moody!

How do we handle these periods in our lives when the itch to travel is there, but you simply cannot scratch it?  What do you do when your hands are tied and you are “stuck at home.”

Here are a few ideas:

1)  Take a day trip.  Go somewhere you haven’t ventured to before because it was “too close to home.”  Perhaps it is a local museum, historical site or a park.  Find something new to discover in what feels familiar.  Use your skills from your time(s) abroad to be a good investigator. What can you learn from this local experience?  (The photo above is from a trip to the coast – there were sponge and horseshoe crabs all over the beach!  Definitely something I wouldn’t see at home – and it reminded me of the beauty of nature and how much I enjoy photography.)

2) Read a great book about another culture or your own, but through someone’s else’s lens.  One of my favorite authors is Ha Jin who writes so eloquently about China and Chinese who have immigrated to the US.  One of his best, in my opinion, is “A Free Life.”  (See below)

3) Plan a trip anyway.  Give yourself a destination goal and craft your ideal itinerary.  What would you do if there were no obstacles?  Would it be immersion Portuguese in Brazil?  A volunteer program working with children in Morocco? Or perhaps it is a round the world ticket and a year of backpacking?  Give yourself a goal and work toward it, no matter what today’s barrier may be.  Consider joining MelibeeU’s new workshop on “How to Creatively Fund Your Travels” with Katie Krueger as part of your preparation.

4)  Find a language partner to learn a language.  Your local library will usually offer language training for ESL and you may be able to exchange free lessons with your ESL partner! Or you can contact your local university to see if they’re in need of language partners.

5) Volunteer in your local community.  This is a terrific way to stay connected to culture when you’re grounded at home.  Meetup.com is a great way to access many local cross-cultural social groups for little to no money.

6) Spend time with friends who value travel.  You could set up a monthly club that focuses on your non-home country culture.  Do a potluck highlighting food from that region of the world.  Talk culture and eat!

I hope those ideas help those of you who are “grounded” at the moment!  What other ideas do you have for these periods in your life when you can’t travel?  Feel free to comment below (no registration is required.)


  1. Nancy U says:

    I have always liked foreign films, no matter where I was living. When you can't travel, want to reminisce about places you have been, or learn about places yet to visit – go to your library and check out some foreign DVDs. You can save towards your next trip and they are also helpful in keeping your foreign language skills current or starting to learn a new one.

    • Elise says:

      My favorite “Global from Home” activity is volunteering with a refugee organization and tutoring the kids. They teach me something new every day and it helps me remember to act like I’m abroad (more adventurous, outgoing, flexible) even when I’m at home.

      • Missy Gluckmann says:

        Kids are truly the bet teachers! They are fearless, don't follow rules and will tell you what they think without the filter. Great suggestion Elise!

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