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With travel on pause and lots of us facing down extra free time indoors, now is pretty much the perfect time to pick up a new hobby. And where better to look for inspiration than your past travels?
Chances are, you can find something that not only brings back fond memories of a past trip, but also will also enrich your future travels—and that’s a win-win. Here are 10 travel-inspired hobbies to help you pass the time until you can get back to globetrotting.
Learning a Foreign Language
What says “travel” like learning a foreign language? If you want a hobby that will both keep travel top-of-mind and set you up to be an even better traveler when the pandemic is finally in the past, take a stab at learning another tongue.
From simple (and free!) apps such as Duolingo to serious software like Rosetta Stone, there are language-learning tools out there at all different price points, letting you cater your approach based on whether you’re looking to pick up a few key phrases or going for all-out fluency.
And don’t count out the possibility of live lessons, either: You can get language instruction from a teacher via Zoom, or supplement whatever tool you’re using by joining a conversation group.
For most of us, photography makes its way into our travels in one form or another. Why not use the extra time at home to develop your skills and get yourself ready to document your next vacation like a pro?
Don’t worry too much about the camera you have; you can cater your approach to whatever you’ve got, whether it’s an iPhone, a DSLR camera or anything in between. You can still study up on the core principles—aperture, ISO and shutter speed—and practice around the house in various light conditions. Between your dinners, the view out your window and whomever you’re quarantining with, you’ll be able to try out a range of styles, too, including landscape, still-life and portraiture.
Online, you’ll find more photography tutorials than you could ever hope to watch in a lifetime, so you won’t want for options there. Look for classes or demos from someone whose style resonates with you.
Food is such an integral part of a country’s culture, and for many travelers, an integral part of their travel experience. And cooking is a great way to bring a piece of that travel experience home with you. Try recreating meals you had on your trip or whipping up iconic dishes specific to your destination. If you brought foodstuffs home with you, even better!
If the thought of learning to cook seems overwhelming, search for a delivery box that suits your taste; as they send you only the necessary ingredients and quantities—along with clear instructions—they take some potential missteps out of the equation.
There are also lots of fun, interactive ways to get into cooking these days. Search for a “cook along,” where someone streams their cooking process and viewers make the same dish at home simultaneously.
If you want to add an extra element of travel-inspired fun, you can start to dive into the world of wine pairings as well!
Inspired by the textiles in countries such as India, Morocco or Mexico? Try your hand at weaving your own! You can purchase simple wooden looms online, and weaving kits come with all the other necessary supplies. You can find all the instructions you’ll need to create your own tapestries on YouTube or on art-focused platforms such as Brit + Co (which has been running great deals on all its classes!).
When you’re done, hang your finished product on the wall or give it a functional use in your home to remind you of your favorite travels.
If you’re one of those people who has tons of maps, ticket stubs, photos and other travel scraps just lying around, why not try your hand at scrapbooking? It’s a great way to get organized (a.k.a. empty that overflowing drawer where you’ve been stashing memorabilia) and create a keepsake that tells the story of your travels.
If you want something you can more easily display in your home, try making a mini-version of a scrapbook inside a shadowbox. These can hang on the wall or sit on top of a table, and you can theme them to your various trips.
From salsa to tango to samba and beyond, there are so many international dance styles worth learning, and some of them may remind you of your favorite trips. Cue up some YouTube videos and get moving; in addition to being a lot of fun, dance is a great way to get some exercise indoors. Plus, when it’s safe to travel again, you can plan a vacation around putting your new skills to use!
Playing an Instrument
Music is a great way to evoke memories; jazz transports us to New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street, fado to Lisbon’s winding stone alleys, and trad to Ireland’s cozy pubs. You can turn on recordings in your home, sure—but if you’re looking for a fun challenge, why not learn to play a new style yourself?
Let’s be honest: More of us have instruments under the bed or in the back of a closet than we’d like to admit. Whether it was something you shelved after high school or bought and never took the time to learn, your instrument can provide tons of at-home entertainment (and you can use the time you’re saving on your daily commute to practice)!
There are plenty of resources to take you down the video learning route if you don’t want to sink money into your new pursuit, but doing virtual lessons online is another option if you want to get a little more serious about it.
Got a yard and a taste for German wheats, Irish stouts or Belgian sours? You might want to consider taking up brewing. You can order starter kits online to get you going, and once you’ve gotten a couple tries under your belt, you can start branching out into your favorite international styles.
Birdwatching from your own backyard may not be as thrilling as, say, having your guide point out different species on a trek through the Amazonian jungle or listening to a naturalist on a zodiac boat in the Antarctic. But here, it’ll be the activity that’s reminiscent of your travel experiences, rather than the wildlife itself.
Give birdwatching a try at home and you may just wind up cultivating an appreciation for a part of your region you never paid much thought to. And if it turns out you’re a natural, you’ll have one more thing to love about where you live.
If you’re looking for a global activity that will also help keep you calm during these crazy times, look into meditation. There are so many styles of meditation and different ways to practice, with roots tracing back to countries including China, India and Egypt, to name just a few.
Here’s another fun idea for those of you who really miss hotels: Learn to fold towels into swans and other animals (or fun designs). A cursory search of YouTube reveals tons of easy-to-follow online tutorials, and the equipment requirements are minimal!
Instead of thinking of quarantine as a disruption or a setback, see if you can reframe it as an opportunity: an opportunity to try something new, to relive your past travels and to pick up skills and interests you can put to use on trips in the future. If you’re lucky and can uncover a new hobby you truly love, this whole stay-at-home thing might not wind up sounding so bad after all!
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