As 2022 begins, we are looking at another winter with global travel uncertain at best and unlikely for most of us. Travel keeps our senses alive with new experiences. It expands our palates, develops our connections with other people and cultures, and with nature. It also often restores and renews our energy and well being. Here are six ways to keep your travel bug alive through the challenges of this pandemic.
Taste food from different regions or places. Food is a great cultural communicator, and although it is not the same as being on location (enjoying a dinner with a stunning seaside view, eating street food at a stall in Hong Kong or an indigenous dish in a remote mountain village), it can transport you to another place through your senses.
My favorite source for interesting ingredients is SOS Chefs in Manhattan. Order online or on your next visit to NYC, stop by to experience Atef’s unforgettable character and hospitality.
Like to cook (or eat)? Expand your repertoire by making dishes from a different cuisine.
Try a recipe from a cookbook or a travel destination you would like to visit (see above for sourcing ingredients). There can be unfamiliar techniques used in the preparation, check out Youtube if you need a “how to” video.
The best cookbooks are much more than just recipes; they describe ingredients, local culture and any important history of a dish. I recommend any of these:
Honey, Olives, Octopus: Adventures at the Greek Table by Christopher Bakken
Rosa Mexicano by Josefina Howard and Lila Lomelí
The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert
It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions and the Joys of Thai Cooking by Kasha Loha-Unchit
Read a novel that’s set in a place you want to explore, or a book on its history or culture, or a travel guide. It will pique your interest and you’ll be ready for any future visit with a deeper understanding of the place, which sites to see and some prized insider tips.
No matter where you want to go, there are without a doubt writers who have been there before and written about it. Paul Theroux, Peter Mayle, Ernest Hemingway, Marjorie Macgoye (Coming to Birth), and Nicholas Gage (Eleni) are a few of my favorites.
Watch a film that is set in your vacation destination or produced from the country (or director) of your destination. Netflix and other TV platforms have expanded their international selection of films and series.
Here are some of my favorite films that evoke a strong sense of place: Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Il Postino, Elza, Queen of Katwe, The Way Home, and Half of a Yellow Sun.
You can transport yourself to another place through music. Look up current or retro bands that are or were popular in your travel destination. Listen in your free moments, while cooking, driving, doing mundane tasks or enjoying a dish that you’ve made. If the spirit moves you, get up and dance.
It’s easy to escape into Bossa Nova, Flamenco, Afro Cuban Jazz or Congolese Rumba.
Learn a bit of the language of your travel destination. Whether you’re polishing up a language you learned in school or just learning the basics, being able to speak a little with the locals goes a long way and avoids complete helplessness in situations.
Try any of these sites:
Duolingo, a language app that works like a video game
Babbel, subscription online language lessons
Coffee Break Languages, a podcast that explores vocabulary and grammar, in a variety of languages
It’s one of my wishes for 2022 that we all will enjoy travel again sans souci. I am working on a list of places to visit and foods to try, and I’ll be ready to enjoy the experience with all of my senses. I’m working to keep my travel bug alive.