Until recently, we’ve been used to traveling where we want and when we want anywhere in the world. With the coronavirus outbreak across the globe, this is no longer the case. While we hope that circumstances change sooner than later, we’re going to be staying at home for the foreseeable future.
Last year, we took 14 trips. They lasted anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks in length and were both international and throughout the United States. Not being able to travel has been a dramatic change in our lives. Of course, there are the obvious physical restrictions on our ability to travel. But we also miss the sense of discovery and freedom that travel provides. Wandering through the back streets of Paris or checking out new restaurants with friends in New York are the kinds of experiences that make us thrive.
Being at home 24/7 gives us a lot of time to think. Inevitably, our minds return to favorite trips we have taken as we reminisce about our passion for travel. But rather than making us sad that we can't go out and explore the world, we decided to recreate our favorite trips to help us revisit the places, flavors, and cultures that we love. The more we reconnect with the destinations we have enjoyed, the more we realize that we can live a global life no matter where we are.
Treasured Travel Memories
Some of our most treasured memories have filled us with deeper appreciation for the places we've been. Our visit to Greece took us from the northern reaches of the Pelion region through the neighborhoods of Athens and down to the southern Peloponnese. We’ve traveled to many parts of France, including Ile-de-France, where Paris is situated, and through Normandy, Brittany, the Loire Valley, Burgundy, Midi-Pyrenees, Occitanie, Provence, and many more. We’ve enjoyed great cities in Spain, including Barcelona, Toledo, and Madrid. Our travels have taken us through Germany, Austria, Mexico, Hungary, China, Portugal, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, India, Brazil, and so many more diverse and fascinating countries.
We have experienced beautiful islands including Nevis, St. Croix, Hawaii, Capri, Hydra, and Madeira. We’ve floated on barges and river boats in spectacular style on waterways from the canals of Burgundy to the romantic Danube River, too. And we've had some adventures, like sleeping in a cave hotel and taking a sunrise air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey. Our visits to Canada showed us a cultural bridge between North America and the rest of the world.
The United States has provided many travel pleasures as well. We've explored coast to coast, from New York to Los Angeles, and north to south from Montana to Texas. We've taken road trips through New England, the Midwest, Southwest, and just about every other region. And we’re just beginning to explore the delights in our very own home state: Wisconsin. It's safe to say that not only has travel been a big part of our lives, it's also a part of who we are.
What We Can Do To Keep “Traveling” Now
Because we have so many vivid memories, along with plenty of photos and souvenirs, we hit upon the idea of recreating some of our own favorite trips without leaving home. Using items we have around us and resources we can access through the online world, we’re able to recreate some of our favorite trips through common elements that transport us in spirit. We’ve had a lot of fun making new memories from old trips. We also plan to spend time coming up with new ideas for travels we plan to take in the future. Rather than seeing ourselves trapped at home, we’re actually taking amazing trips to places we love. All it takes is a little creativity and some planning. Let us tell you what we do and how you can recreate some of your own favorite trips at home, too.
Elements For Recreating Favorite Trips At Home
There are a few components to consider when planning to recreate your favorite trips. These are the elements that stimulate our imaginations and transport us back to our favorite destinations. You may find some others that you’ll also want to include. Do whatever feels right to you.
The first thing we notice about any destination is what images give us our first impression. Whether we’re in the United States or traveling abroad, every place has its own special charm. We have some souvenirs that remind us of those places as well as plenty of photos to help. Postcards, refrigerator magnets, clothing, household items, and other reminders of your trip will help create the mood.
Ambiance is a big trigger for memory. When we think about how to conjure up our favorite trips, our ears are just as important as our eyes. We purchased CDs in some places like Cuba. When it comes to others, including Ireland, Brazil, and Greece, there is plenty of traditional music to stream. Flamenco reminds us of Spain while fado takes us back to Portugal. Some music is great for relaxing and savoring. Other music makes us want to get up and dance. We can choose whatever suits our mood or mix it up and create the perfect blend for us.
So many of our favorite trips have come with a beverage specialty. Hurricanes in New Orleans. Rum Punch in Nevis. Creative fruit juice blends in Dubai. Tea in China. Beer in Germany. Wine in France. Porto in Portugal. Spain is about Sangria and Guinness Stout is Ireland in a glass. Tsipouro reminds us of our lovely evenings in northern Greece. And huckleberry lemonade takes us right to Montana. We have to admit that nothing tastes better than ice cold orange juice made with California or Florida oranges, with or without champagne. We bought a Turkish tea set through haggling at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. You can bet when we recreate a visit to Turkey, it will be part of our table along with our memories.
Since food is one of the main focuses of our travel, we love to recreate the cuisine of our trip. That doesn’t mean we have to become Michelin-starred chefs to make things feel authentic. We can find an easy recipe from the many on the internet or choose to make a specific dish or even just the essence of a dish, depending on what we have on hand. Pita bread, olives, and feta cheese take us back to Greece. Spaghetti with some marinara makes a nice Italian meal. Rice and beans can take us anywhere from Louisiana to Cuba, Mexico to Brazil.
If you like to play games, charades makes a wonderful way to test out your memories of people, events, or places you’ve seen. If you like watching cooking shows, there are plenty that take you to the culture or the cuisine. Rick Bayless in Mexico, The Great British Baking Show, Yan Can Cook, and others offer cultural culinary fun. You can also watch movies on streaming services or revisit your favorite DVDs to find films that include some of your favorite locations. We could watch (and have) The Sound Of Music a hundred times and never get tired of those Austrian Alps. You can see our article about best travel movies along with perfect cocktail pairings for more ideas that you can enjoy.
A Few Recreations Of Our Favorite Trips
We’ve been to so many places in France, we have a lot from which to choose. Using a tablecloth and napkins we bought in Provence, we set a table that already makes us feel like we’re there. While we can play any number of French songs, Edith Piaf singing “La Vie En Rose” is really all we need to set the mood. Any French accordion music makes a great background as well.
To bring back specific memories, we look at some of our favorite trip photos. A little spray of lavender in the air and a couple of dried lavender bundles engage all our senses. French onion soup, a lovely omelet, or a simple quiche transport us to one of our favorite countries on earth. We have sparkling conversation as we would on any voyage. A bit of cheese finishes things off well. We watch Sabrina or Midnight In Paris or Julia Child and Jacques Pepin cooking shows to make our revisit to France complete.
Our travels to Germany have included two favorite celebrations -- Oktoberfest in Munich and Christmas markets all over the country. We never get tired of eating and drinking German delights. We have some blue and white checked paper napkins for our own Oktoberfest recreations at home. There’s beer in the fridge and, being in Wisconsin, brats in the freezer. We can easily make an Oktoberfest meal with beer and brats and oompah music. If we were going for Christmastime Germany, we’d pull out some of the many Gluhwein mugs we collected from our Christmas market visits and heat some red wine with cloves, allspice, oranges, and honey. To work off a few calories, we’ll do some silly Oktoberfest dances to popular fest songs, including “Fliegerlied.” You can even get a dance lesson in English to follow along. We don’t happen to have lederhosen or dirndles, but if you do, put them on!
Our visit to Cuba was one of our most amazing trips ever. We went as part of a People To People mission and so were accompanied by locals every step of the way. We learned to make the traditional rice and beans dish called Moros y Cristianos, which you can easily make with pantry ingredients and our simple recipe. A Cuban sandwich is tasty, too. In Cuba we were surrounded by music everywhere. One of our favorite groups is the Buena Vista Social Club, consisting of some old time superstars who got together to create a beautiful soundtrack one more time. If you like the music, there’s a movie about the group available on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, and other services. Of course, you might want to enjoy a mojito or El Presidente cocktail while you’re at it.
One of the easiest trips for us to recreate is our wonderful exploration of Greece. We traveled the country from top to bottom, uncovering places that many tourists never go. Whether exploring the dreamy islands or diving deep into the history of Athens, it's no doubt that Greece holds many memories for us and for other travelers who have had the chance to visit. We happen to have brought some Tsipouro alcohol back with us, so we can start there for our celebration of all things Greek. Greece is also known for anise-flavored Ouzo, Metaxa brandy, plenty of wine, and even some beer. So basically, we can drink whatever we have around and start shouting Opah! to get in the mood. Blue and white, the colors of the flag, are also thoroughly Greek. Putting on blue and white clothing and dressing the table with blue and white definitely does the trick. Greek bouzouki music is plentiful and provides the perfect ambiance.
We already make plenty of Mediterranean food, so it’s easy for us to create a meal and imagine we’re sitting in a little cafe somewhere in a small Greek village. Even just creating some mezze, or appetizers of feta, olives, veggies, and bread can do the trick. Greek yogurt with honey and pistachios is a tasty and authentic dessert. To make us smile even more, if that’s possible, watching the Mamma Mia films, Shirley Valentine, or My Big Fat Greek Wedding will propel us that much further into Grecian joy.
It was love at first visit when we went to Montana. We started with a visit to Bozeman, where we first learned what a huckleberry was. What a revelation! Then we went to Missoula, where the beauty of the mountains surrounds you at every turn. We rode across a river on horseback, ate a cowboy dinner on a ranch, strolled through farmers markets, and watched the beauty of natural waterfalls while eating sandwiches at a picnic table. In winter, we went snowshoeing in Yellowstone National Park, a memory we cherish.
Natural beauty is the thing we love most about Montana. To recreate that feeling at home, we surround ourselves with images of the great outdoors. We make a picnic lunch like we had in the park. Since we still have a little huckleberry jam left from our last visit, we put it into some regular lemonade and recreate one of our favorite drinks. We can add a bit of vodka if we’re at the end of the day. Jeans and t-shirts are the order of the day. A jaunty bandana is fun to wear, too. We watch any nature movie we love, but to capture the essence of our Montana experience, there’s no better film than A River Runs Through It, which shows the beauty of Missoula in all its glory.
Tips For Recreating Your Own Favorite Trips
The experience of recreating our favorite trips at home reminds us that we always have great memories to enjoy and experiences to treasure. Even when we’re not leaving home, we can enjoy the experience of other places. It’s helping us stay in touch with our love of travel and giving us ideas about where we want to go when we emerge from this situation. Now that we’ve given you some ideas and examples, you can do the same thing, too.
Where have you visited that you’d like to go again? You can also recreate a cruise or a train trip. A glass of wine and a little cheese recalls our barge cruise. During the cruise, we enjoyed that pairing every day on our floating hotel. Remember what you enjoyed most about your trip and use those memories to inform what you do. Was there a particular restaurant that you enjoyed? An attraction or event that spoke to you? There are recordings of Cirque du Soleil that take us back to Charlevoix, Quebec -- and we can watch them without having to stand in the rain like we did when we were there. Not only can we recreate an experience, sometimes we can even improve it!
Along with the tips above, the most important thing is to remember to have fun. Don’t stress if you don’t have exactly the right food. After all, we fell in love with an Italian restaurant in Madrid, a gyro shack in Paris, and a fancy French place in Frankfurt. Bring out the photos, the postcards, the music. Turn on a video or play a game. Before you’ll know it, you’ll be enjoying the flow of a happy experience wherever you are. And maybe you can begin planning a trip that you’d like to take in the future.
Travel Memories Are For All Time
We've learned from this experience that memories of our favorite trips will stay with us forever. The food we ate, the music we heard, the scenery and cultural attractions we experienced will remain with us for a lifetime. Being tied to one place can be challenging for travelers. But with a little planning, some evocative items, and a bit of imagination, you can continue to experience the joys of traveling the world right in the comfort of your own home.
Longing for a window on the world? Check out these 38 virtual tours and webcams you can enjoy from home any time, plus the perfect cocktail pairing for your favorite travel movie.