Fun Things To Do When you Can’t Travel

Regardless of whether you’re an avid traveller or a natural homebody, sometimes it’s just nice to get away even when it’s not possible.  Travel addiction can take over your life, your thoughts, and can push you to new limits.  For some, the prospect of being stuck in one place for an extended period of time can feel daunting and claustrophobic.  So what do you do when you’re jonesing to get away but for one reason or another you’re stuck where you are? Here’s a list of things to do, for every budget, and regardless of whether you’re an urbanite or small town dweller that will help you break your day to day routine and keep life interesting.

1. Head to a Hotel Pool:

Obviously this is season dependent, but if you want to feel like you’re on vacation, there is no better way than to spend a day at a nice hotel pool, ordering cocktails and food to your sun lounger.  If you’re lucky to live near a beach (lake/ocean) then head to a waterfront hotel or club.

Saadiyat Beach Club, Abu Dhabi

2. Check out a tourist site in your area: 

This is an easy one, choose a tourist site nearby that you’ve never been to or haven’t been to in a while.  This could be anything from a natural attraction, to an art gallery, or historic site.  Perhaps you live in a town where there isn’t much to offer; then find the most special place your town has and spend some time there.  Photograph an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ location in your area and post it on Instagram to inspire others.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, I go once a year

3. Pick a random area in your city and meander:

This one is not so easy if you live in a small town but you could try to pick another town nearby and take a mini road trip there for the day.  If you do live in the city than chances are, there are areas you may not be too familiar with.  When I lived in Montreal, I used to pick a metro station I had never been to and would jump off and explore the area.  I found some awesome cafes, restaurants, buildings, parks, and shops this way.

Dubai Spice Souk

4. Treat yourself to a spa day or have a home spa day with a friend:

Depending on your budget, you can either head to a spa and get pampered; even getting your nails done and going for coffee with a friend can feel like a vacation.  If you’re as broke as I was in University, than you can make your own hair and face masks, choose a movie on Netflix, and sit back while soaking your feet and doing your own nails all while drinking the bestest, cheapest wine you can find.

Treating myself to a Korean Sheet Mask

5. Book a hotel in town or nearby for a night or two, or go camping:

You may have some points from a credit card or another loyalty program or you can try to find a great deal on Groupon, book a hotel room in town or nearby for a night or two.  For some reason, being in a hotel room makes you feel as if you’re miles away even if your house is just 20 minutes away.  Camping is another budget friendly and fun option.

Desert Camping cooking fiasco

6. Do something active outside:

Go skiing, sliding, or skating in the winter time, try out the hiking or biking trails in your area, go horseback riding, or kayaking.  Chances are, if you’re like me, you tend to spend too much time inside when you’re not traveling, so make a point to get outside and do something active or even just have a picnic in the park with friends.

Hiking Jabal Jais

7. Try something new:

Often when people travel, they’ll try something new like zip lining, or a cooking class but you can also discover new things at home.  Go hang gliding, try wake boarding, or knitting, anything that is new and entices you to get outside of your comfort zone is worth trying out.

Kayaking at Hatta Dam

8. Plan your next trip:

I am guilty of doing this at work when I know I should be grading or paying attention to my students, instead I often find myself in Lalaland, planning an overland itinerary through South and East Africa. Booking hostels, and flights, putting together an extensive google doc for friends complete with our budget and other pertinent information. This activity is both practical and a fun way to trick your mind into wandering off around the world while your body remains firmly planted behind your desk.


9. Go to a new restaurant for dinner:

I’m not talking about going out to Olive Garden but going to the family owned Sri Lankan Restaurant you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t yet or you could always go to your tried and true Korean restaurant.  Any restaurant making food you wouldn’t normally cook at home or that makes you dream of trips past and trips to come.

Getting my Pho fix in Dubai

10. Check out the nightlife:

A girl’s or guy’s night out can be a fun way to get out of your head, mingle, dance the night away and feel like you’ve taken a mini vacation from reality.  Try out a new bar/club to keep it fresh and exciting.

Zero Gravity, Dubai

11. Listen or dance to different type of music

Go Salsa dancing or head to a reggae club, go to an African Music festival.  Music can transport you to a different time and place. For example, even if you’re dancing to a Congolese band in downtown Toronto, you can close your eyes and imagine hearing the music as you’re driving through the Virunga on your way to see the Gorillas or you could be listening to Swahili music, dreaming of nights spent dancing under the stars in Zanzibar.

Belly Dancing in the Desert

12. Go see a foreign film or check out the events at local cultural centres:

Many cities and towns and have cultural centres supporting and promoting various immigrant communities.  I have seen centres promoting Indian, Islamic culture, Brazilian, and Caribbean culture around the world.  Alliance Francaise is very common; their primary goal is to promote French language and culture, they offer French lessons but in Abu Dhabi they also showed French films, theatre, and other cultural events.


Alliance Française in Seoul, South Korea

13. Make travel inspired art.


Use your travel photos to make a collage, scrapbook, or simply print and frame some travel photos, draw, paint, or sculpt something inspired by your travels.  If you’re not so artsy then sometimes simply going through your travel photos and organizing them can be a necessary but fun chore.

Artwork inspired by the Caves of Nerja, Spain

14. Redecorate:

Perhaps you bought a piece of art that you have yet to install in your home, pick a room and redecorate/rearrange it and install your new artwork.  You can also scour your local Consignment store for unique home decor items and redo a room based on your findings.  You’ll have a fresh space to relax in.

Ugandan Art

15. Try a class:

Learn a new language, maybe the language of the country that is your next destination.  Go to a cooking class and learn to make an unforgettable Thai curry or try an art workshop.  Whatever you choose, the point is to learn something new and break your routine.

It counts if I facilitated the workshop, right?

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