Practical Travel Tips for When You Can’t Actually Travel

As I called United to cancel my summer flight to Vegas, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for myself – though I feared that in all the chaos in the world right now, mourning a missed bachelorette party may sound shallow.

Rick, the customer service employee, assured me that, “It’s totally okay to grieve over cancelled plans. We are all feeling It.” And you know what? He’s right.

It goes without saying that this pandemic has majorly affected every single one of us. And though it may seem like abandoned trips are the least of our concerns, those with identities deeply rooted in travel can’t help but feel a major void.

So, as we sit in the confinement of our homes and ponder the meaning of life and what to order next for take-out, know that it is okay to lament your nixed vacation. Then, pick yourself up by your hiking bootstraps and try these practical travel tips for when you can’t actually travel.

Finally Organize Your Memorabilia

If you’re anything like me, you have a surplus of old plane tickets, excursion brochures, bar crawl wristbands, and small foreign bills stockpiled from travels. Now is the perfect time to not only reminisce on all you’ve collected but to actually sort through and organize the memorabilia in an attractive presentation.

I stumbled upon long-lost photos of my Italy trip circa 2012 when I found a forgotten memory card shoved in a drawer. I realized there are so many valuable photos I never printed or arranged to look back through.

Try framing or gluing pictures and papered souvenirs in a scrapbook. It doesn’t have to be fancy – just more accessible than being hoarded away in a shoebox under your bed!

If you’re not one to print and scrapbook, Shutterfly offers awesome deals on photo books, a foolproof way to quickly and easily upload photos. It’s inexpensive, and you can design hardcover books of each of your adventures to prop right on your coffee table for future and frequent viewing.

shutterfly photo book
The highlights of one of my favorite trips captured in a Shutterfly photo book. © Casie Frederick

Refine Your Travel Bucket List

We all have dreams of where we’d like to travel. And, in true traveler fashion, you probably add two more destinations for every one you cross off. This downtime is an opportunity to shift from daydreaming to goal setting.

For example, instead of musing, “I’d love to do a long-distance hiking trail in Europe one day,” start watching Youtube videos and reading blogs tied directly to the Camino De Santiago. Listen to this podcast about long-distance treks around the world, or this one on walking the Camino de Santiago.

Get specific. If you’ve had Australia on your list since you were younger – figure out exactly where you’d like to go and the activities you’d like to do. Better yet, start looking at places to stay, transportation, and what that looks like for your budget.

Then, start shifting your budget goals! These are all things you can do now.

Making a vision board is a crafty way to organize your travel goals, and many can attest to the power of visualization when it comes to bringing your ideas into fruition. Take this time to narrow it down and hone in on your no-longer-vague list.

Related: Travel Bucket List: The Importance of Goal Setting

Get specific with that Australia dream! Like planning to visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. © Casie Frederick

Do Your Homework

Ah, the tedious stuff. It’s one thing to daydream about a trip, it’s another to do the monotonous “little” things that still need to be checked off. Now is the perfect time to get your travel ducks in a row, so that you won’t be scrambling when it comes time to hit the road again.

Expiration dates on documents can sneak up on you. Take this time to get on top of renewing passports, credit cards, and researching visa processes. On that note, it’s a good idea to locate and store your documents. If you’ve ever had the anxiety of not being able to find your passport – you know what I’m talking about.

Related: 10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for a Long-Term Trip

When you’re planning a trip, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the tips and advice for saving money. Use this time to research travel credit cards and collecting frequent flyer miles.

If you are already overwhelmed and have no idea where to start – follow the blueprint.

Fine-Tooth Comb Your Gear

Now is the perfect time to take inventory of all your travel gear, so you can assess what you have, what you need, the items that may need a little love, and the items that should perhaps be discarded entirely (we’re looking at you, moldy Nalgene).

Clean your down sleeping bag the correct way (a true labor of love). Sew the two-year-old tear on your favorite hiking pants. Repair the zipper on your rain jacket.

Invest in an organizing system, such as a garment rack or even just clear totes, so that you can easily identify and locate your pieces. A friend of mine swears by using spreadsheets to keep track of the contents of her bins so that she can prepare for her activities accordingly.

Now would also be a good time to research different brands and reviews for that backpack you’ve been meaning to replace, or make a detailed Amazon wishlist of your travel item wants/needs.

Related: The Ultimate Travel Packing List: A Year in a Carry On Backpack

Organizing a gear shelf is the perfect way to store and take inventory of all your pieces. © Casie Frederick

Even though these times are hard, there are countless ways to still feel productive towards your goals. Use this free time to tackle those travel chores and be prepared for when we can journey abroad again. What are other practical tips travelers can do to stay busy during this time?

Need destination inspiration? Check out this two-part series on the podcast: Where to Travel January through June, and Where to Travel July through December.

By Casie Frederick