5 Travel-Themed Activities to Do at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Christine Smith

Satisfy your wanderlust while stuck at home with one or more of these travel-inspired pastimes.

Travel has a way of fulfilling our desire to do something meaningful and exciting, whether you enjoy spending time with loved ones who live far away or discovering far-flung places rich in history and culture. However, many people around the world are suddenly making the tough decision to cancel their travel plans so they can keep themselves and others from contracting the coronavirus. Practicing social distancing doesn't mean you can't continue to fuel your passion for travel, though. To appease your urge to get out and explore while spending more time indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. News rounded up five travel-themed activities you can do without leaving home. Read on to find out more.

Learn a language

Spend your extra time at home preparing for future trips to destinations where English may not be widely spoken. With the Babbel app, which is free to download to an Android or Apple device, you can enroll in language courses that focus on dialogue training and speech recognition. Babbel's 14 language options include French, Portuguese and Turkish, and each course costs $12.95 per month (reduced rates are available for multimonth subscriptions). Another popular language resource is Rosetta Stone, which provides a variety of options that include temporary or lifetime access online and through an app to either one or all of the company's 25 interactive language programs. You can choose from languages like Italian, Korean and Arabic. A basic three-month subscription to one language program costs $35.97. If you want additional time or language choices, consider purchasing the Rosetta Stone: Unlimited Languages program for $199 per lifetime subscription (unlimited language packages are also available via multimonth subscriptions).

Create a gallery wall

Reminisce about your favorite trips by displaying your best travel photos on an empty wall. You can print photos yourself or upload them to a website like Walmart Photo, Amazon Prints or Shutterfly (where you'll pay at least 9 to 12 cents per photo, plus shipping) to have your images professionally printed and mailed to you. Then, place them in matching gallery frames. Gallery Perfect offers numerous gallery wall kits that recent purchasers praise for their high quality and how easy they are to install, including a basic black set with nine frames for $63.99. If you don't have a high-definition printer or want to avoid framing the images yourself, you can get your chosen photos professionally printed directly on to a canvas by companies like Shutterfly and Vistaprint. Prices vary depending on the canvas style and size, but expect to pay $28.75 to $44.99 for a standard frameless canvas that measures 12 inches by 12 inches. Or, you can use Mixtiles, a free app for Android and Apple devices that lets you order prints of pictures taken with your phone. Each of the company's tiles, which measure 8 inches by 8 inches, starts at $11 and can be removed and rehung without leaving marks on your wall.

Take a virtual tour of a destination or attraction

If you're eager to see a location other than your immediate surroundings, check out a national park, a museum, a zoo or an aquarium online. The Google Cultural Institute's free Google Arts & Culture platform offers virtual glimpses of some of America's most geographically unique areas, including sprawling spaces like Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island and Dry Tortugas National Park near Key West, Florida. Plus, it lets you virtually travel to world-renowned cultural institutions like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and The Museum of Modern Art in New York to admire works painted by Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, among other famous artists. Should you crave a cuter distraction, check out the live video feeds U.S. zoos and aquariums share on their websites. Must-see animal cams include the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute's Giant Panda Cam, the Georgia Aquarium's Beluga Whale Webcam and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Cam.

Make a scrapbook

An excellent way to satisfy your desire to travel is to organize photos from previous trips in a scrapbook. Regardless of how artistic you are, scrapbooking gives you a chance to reflect on bucket list moments, happy memories and entertaining mishaps you've experienced during your journeys. To make a scrapbook of your adventures, choose an album that best suits your personality. If you prefer the handmade look of a traditional scrapbook, go with LINKEDWIN's Our Adventure Book. This scrapbook, which retails for $15.99, features a design inspired by the Pixar Animation Studios film "Up," meaning you'll find details similar to character Ellie Fredricksen's album, such as kraft paper pages and a rope tie. For a more streamlined appearance and extras like a cover window and self-adhesive pages, pick Vienrose's magnetic scrapbook. The standard 40-page album comes in five colors -- black, blue, gray, khaki and white -- and two sizes -- 11 inches by 10.6 inches and 13 inches by 12.6 inches -- and costs $18.99 or $24.99.

Plan your next vacation

Although booking a trip is not recommended at this time because of coronavirus concerns, you can use your time inside to plan a future adventure. To help you decide where you want to go, consult U.S. News Travel's Best Vacations rankings. Once you've found the perfect destination or destinations for your next getaway, browse various travel guides to find out more about your chosen locales. Details you'll want to research include hotels, restaurants, public transportation options, weather conditions, and tours and attractions. Remember to consider your budget, mobility issues and availability -- especially if you plan on traveling with children who are in school most of the year -- as you narrow down your options. When you're ready to draft an itinerary, use Google Maps or Roadtrippers (a free app for Android and Apple devices designed for planning road trips) to determine where your must-see sights and tour departure points are located so you can schedule nearby activities on the same day. Also, download the TripIt app (which is free for Android and Apple devices) so you can neatly organize and store all of your reservations in one place when it's safe to travel again.

Christine Smith is an Editor for the Travel section at U.S. News, where she manages the annual Best Vacations and Best Travel Rewards Programs rankings products. She also writes and edits articles and slideshows, travel guides and hotels and cruises rankings content. Additionally, Christine has been interviewed by multiple publications and radio programs, including Condé Nast Traveler, The Boston Globe, The Frommer's Travel Show and the District of Columbia radio station WTOP.

Prior to joining U.S. News in 2015, Christine covered the immigration beat while completing a master's degree in journalism at Northwestern University. She also earned a master's degree in African studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelor's degree in political science from Boston University.

You can connect with Christine on LinkedIn or email her at crsmith@usnews.com.