Updated 1/19/2021. Armchair travel: 1. A way to visit faraway places without leaving home. 2. A sensory experience and opportunity to learn about domestic and foreign destinations in a meaningful manner.
Sometimes we simply can’t get to the places we want. Maybe we’re tied up with family obligations, recuperating from surgery, restricted by finances…or stuck indoors because of a global infection. (Looking at you, Covid-19.)
Whatever the reason, those of us with wanderlust in our DNA still have active imaginations and the ability to enjoy sights around the world. Right from our sofas, beds, or kitchen tables. Armchairs not mandatory.
DIY Guide to Armchair Travel
We each like to travel in a certain way. Solo, partner. Independent, tour. Cruise, road trip. Domestic, international. City, cabin. Beach, mountain.
Your armchair experience is no different. Why take a “tour” of the Louvre if you don’t like art? Why “visit” Yosemite if national parks aren’t your thing? Why “travel” to Bhutan if you never wanted to go in the first place? You get the idea.
Here’s my plan: For the last few months, there has been an abundance of online opportunities and website wonders, inviting us to see the world without leaving our homes. I don’t know about you, but every day my inbox is crammed with invitations.
This is a DIY travel guide. I’ll sift through the possibilities. You to choose what you like, leave the rest behind. Sort of a destination smorgasbord, if you will.
We know travel is going to change. Just how, no one knows yet. In the meantime, all you need to “pack” is a comfortable spot and refreshments of your choice. Then click around and create your own Guide to Armchair Travel!
Far-Flung Fantasies, Please!
No passport required! That’s one good thing about armchair travel. Another benefit? We have time to really consider where to go when the opportunity comes. So dig in, savor the possibilities!
Great Wall of China: I don’t know about you, but I’m not likely to get there. So the chance to see it up-close and personal is a treat.
Ten World-Famous Landmarks: The Guardian has thoughtfully gathered ten spots, all in one article. Click on your pick: Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Christ the Redeemer, Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, Petra, Chichén Itzá, Colosseum.
The Sistine Chapel: Why stand elbow-to-elbow, craning your neck to gaze upward, when you can take your time to to study this masterpiece? Don’t stop there–the Vatican Museums have even more to dazzle you.
Closer to Home, Thanks…
Maybe you prefer to test the travel waters by making trips that let you return home when you want. You’re not alone. Give these some consideration:
15 U.S. Historic Places: Way back in 2012, Scholastica Travel put together this list of spots for students to review before a field trip. Nearly a decade later, we can thank them as we visit Colonial Williamsburg, Gettysburg, Mount Vernon, the White House, the U.S. Botanic Garden, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, United States Mint, The Kennedy Center, and Ellis Island…and more.
Rides at Walt Disney World: Virtual Disney World YouTube Channel has rides and attractions that probably won’t be enough for a child, but are fun for anyone who wants to see what to expect when they go, or remember from when they went.
Best of Arizona: How about the Grand Canyon? Maybe Phoenix Art Museum or Tucson Botanical Gardens? From here, check out any other state that interests you; chances are, the state tourism office has ways to show you around.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park: How lucky we are to have Hawai’i as our 50th state! It might not be the easiest to get to, but it is a domestic destination. Aloha!
Love museums, big or small? Me, too! Here are a few to satisfy those cravings. If you have a favorite–or a favorite niche–ask your search engine to take you there. And…FREE admission, folks!
British Museum, London: Modestly calling itself “The Museum of the World,” you won’t need to hop on The Tube to see all the treasures that the Brits pilfered from around the world. (Just to keep them safe, you understand.) The website is wacky, but worth the time.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City: “The Met” turns 150 this year, and invites you to the party. Just you and 400,000 pieces of art. Sift and sort to your heart’s content.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence: If you’ve ever seen–or stood in–the endless lines of tourists waiting to get in to see Botticelli’s “The birth of Venus,” then you’ll be thrilled to study it in the comfort of your own armchair. There’s a cool feature that helps you make memes from classic art. Give it a try!
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam: Although his art went mostly unsold during his turbulent life, today it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t own a “Starry Night” mug, poster, t-shirt, or puzzle. Thankfully, this museum will expand your knowledge about his life and art.
Thanks to Google Arts & Culture, choose among 2,500 museums and galleries!
Fresh Air and Sunshine!
Jonesing for wide open spaces? Or even a local park? Until you’re able to hit the hiking trails or bask at the beaches, here are some suggestions.
Yellowstone National Park: Old Faithful is, well…faithful, whether we’re there or not. The bears and bison probably aren’t missing us one bit. We can still see what they’re up to. Live webcams and other interesting resources await.
Yosemite National Park: Hike to the top of Half Dome, see Nevada Falls, and do some stargazing in pure darkness. Don’t miss this adventure!
San Diego Zoo: Eleven webcams, plus an archive of the pandas, will give you a wildlife fix. San Diego Zoo is one of the world’s best and wants to show you why. Check out the koalas, penguins, elephants, baboons, and burrowing owls.
Monterey Bay Aquarium: What I loved about the Monterey Bay Aquarium were the many, many types of jellyfish. Mesmerizing and calming. And there’s more: Kelp forest, sea otters, sharks, and Monterey Bay itself.
Florida Beaches: You won’t get a sunburn looking at beaches in the Sunshine State. Nor will you get exposed to any nasty viruses. But you will get a dose of “Vitamin B-each.”
Until We Can GO, Let’s “Go,” Shall We?
For my Grand Finale, here are the New York Times annual travel lists. Talk about the whole enchilada! Enjoy!
These ideas and suggestions are meant as a jumping-off point. If you have been infected with the “travel bug,” it’s hard to sit and wait. Perhaps your plans have already been canceled. Maybe you’re concerned that future trips are in jeopardy. So many things are out of our control right now. But we CAN still explore the world in a different way. Bon voyage!