A little over a week ago, I was sure that I’d be in LA right now.
Actually, I wasn’t just sure, I was determined. The existential threat of a global pandemic was all but theoretical to me, and I wasn’t ready to make any major changes in my life – other than washing my hands raw and keeping them away from my face, of course.
I was going to get on that flight.
I didn’t get on that flight. Things got real, real quick – and it’s pretty clear now that they’ve been real for a lot longer than we’d like to admit (@ the current administration). We woke up at the beginning of this week to find ourselves in a full-blown public health (and economic) crisis, everyone from the experts at the CDC to the pseudo-experts blowing up our Instagram feed telling us to stay home.
We don’t know when it’ll be safe (and socially responsible) for us to start jetting around the world again, and we don’t know when going out in a foreign city with a bunch of new friends (and possibly a new foreign love interest) won’t put ourselves and those most vulnerable in our community in danger.
For anyone in the Shut Up and Go community – this sucks. For those of us that live to travel, that value our independence and ability to move around this world freely more than anything – this sucks. But just because we have to give up travel right now doesn’t mean we have to abandon the spirit of it all. The Shut Up and Go community is a living testament to the fact that travel is as much a state of mind as it is the act of hopping on a flight.
So, for all my fellow travel-junkies going stir crazy in quarantine (or getting there), here are 5 ways to keep the Shut Up and Go mindset alive from home:
*With some photo memories sprinkled in from better times spent traveling*
Part (and honestly most) of the reason I love to travel is for the people. Not just meeting new people, but for that amazing feeling of reuniting with old friends and family on a trip.
Obviously, meeting new people isn’t exactly the 411 as of now, but I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to make time for all the people you’ve been meaning to reach out to.
I spent last Friday night in my NYC apartment on a group facetime call with some of my closest friends. All of us live in different cities, and some on the opposite ends of the country, so it’s safe to say we’ve built up more than enough life updates, funny stories and gossip between us to take up 12 facetime calls. Would we all have made time for a group call on a Friday night if it weren’t for the whole quarantine situation? Of course not.
While traveling to reunite with old friends and meet new people isn’t exactly social distancing-chic, now’s the perfect time to grab your phone and check-in with those people you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Ring em’ up and make self-isolation a little less isolating.
2. Master the Perfect French ‘R’
One of the biggest things I’ve realized about this whole quarantine situation is that it’s really cutting down on my excuses to not do the stuff that I’ve said I’ll do (truly exposing people out here).
Even for those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs working from home, chances are that most of us have more time on our hands now than we’ve ever been used to (and, honestly, more than we’re totally comfortable with). So why not fill that extra time with one of the greatest things about traveling and meeting new people from around the world – language learning!
Yup, if there’s ever been an ideal time to whip out those dusty language books or log back into Duolingo, it’s in the quarantined-age.
Lacking motivation? Think about the fact that you could walk out at the tail end of this and head into your first big trip hitting that ‘bonjour’ with the perfect French ‘r’, or getting through a whole conversation in Chinese in correct tones. Worth every minute not spent bingeing Netflix.
*Ahem, unless they’re these Netflix shows, obviously.
3. Show Yourself the World … From Your Couch
Just because we’re not supposed to travel anywhere physically doesn’t mean we have to totally forgo our love for travel.
Think about the literally endless amount of travel-related content online, from YouTube videos to Netflix documentaries, that could take you anywhere you’d ever want to go. Want an inside look at sex, drugs and individual liberty in the Netherlands? Check out Damon’s newest YouTube doc. What about watching top chefs from all over the world adapt meals from their home countries into beautiful works of art? Chef’s Table it is – check it out on Netflix, literally could not recommend it more. The point is, whatever you’re looking for, it’s out there.
And when your eyes start shriveling up and seeing double from all that screen time, you can turn to old fashioned writing.
You don’t need me to remind you that truly great writing can take you literally anywhere. Catch up on all kinds of travel stories here on the Shut Up and Go blog, check out other travel-related content on blogging platforms like Medium, or pick up a good book with some travel/adventure in it to spice up your life a bit.
4. Take a Spin Around the Block
When all else fails, go on and get on out there.
*And hold up, before anyone starts spitting fire in the comment section, I’m not suggesting you should go out, get a crowd together and start giving out free hugs – I’m just saying we all need some fresh air every now and then.
The first time I decided to go for a walk and get my butt out of my home office (doubles as my bed), I was about 10 minutes into my walk when I realized something: that was the first time I had ever taken an aimless walk around my neighborhood just for the sake of taking an aimless walk around my neighborhood (What working person has time to do that on a normal schedule in New York City??).
I noticed restaurants I’d never known were there but had seemingly been there the whole time, I saw neighborhood cuties walking out of their apartments that I still have yet to see on any dating app, and I ended up sitting down by a big pond in Central Park that I had no idea was a 10-minute walk from my apartment.
So no, we shouldn’t head to the airport or train station or go on a road-trip clown car style anytime soon, but we can all still travel. Just take a walk – you might be surprised by what you find.
5. Treat Yo’ Self with Something to Look Forward to
Nothing feels better to me than planning exciting trips and things to do in the future so you know you have something to look forward to down the line. Granted, it’s a little harder to do that when you don’t know when it’ll be safe and socially responsible for you to be out and about again, but still, the concept doesn’t change.
My friend asked me recently (and randomly) if I’d be interested in going on a trip to South Africa sometime – and in true traveler fashion, I said yes. We don’t really know when we’ll be able to go, but so what? We might as well start planning what we can plan (where we want to go, what we want to see, what we want to do), for the simple fact that it helps keep that wanderlust in us alive. Now we have something to look forward to; to be excited about! Considering the state of the world right now, exact dates aren’t as important to me.
At the end of the day, those of us that are feeling claustrophobic in quarantine are a privileged bunch among those that are battling the virus on the front line, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, and the people that live in places and situations where even a global pandemic is just one concern of many.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to worry about. Staying inside all day is, ironically, taxing on our mental health, and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the things we love. So may your quarantine be rejuvenating, your days full of inspiration and that spark of wanderlust alive and well. Take care of yourselves, friends.
And please, for the love of travel, just shut up and stay home.