They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and that has certainly been tested and found true for those of us who love to travel and explore. With an international “stay at home” advisory going on, we’ve been dreaming up ways to satisfy the wanderlust in our hearts until we can depart for our next vacation.


An idea our family has implemented is one we stole from our adult children who were in their 20s and social distancing before it was a thing, living on an isolated ranch 70 miles from their church or a movie theater. To liven up the long weeks of cattle ranching and create opportunities to get outside their culture, they picked a night of the week to “travel” to a foreign country within the context of home. This idea has been a great addition to our lives in recent weeks while we are on pause from our normal routines.


Here are some tips they shared from their experiences:


Pick a country to highlight.

There are plenty of ways to make your selection… Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to travel to and never had the opportunity? Or, is there a place you’ve been longing to return to? Or, maybe you’re the kind of person who loves surprises and would enjoy just closing your eyes and randomly putting your finger on a world map. No matter what it is, if you are excited about it, it will make for a fun night.


Create a map display to keep track of the countries you “visit” from home.


Find a highly rated recipe to try or order ethnic take-out.

With the amazing resource of the internet and the incredible variety of items that can be found locally (even this week), you can get super creative and have tremendous success at preparing international cuisine at home. In fact, you may find that it is easier to find international grocery items right now than the staples like sliced bread and hamburger that are in short supply. If you are pressed for time, don’t hesitate to use ready-made sauces. Or consider blessing a local, struggling business by purchasing take-out. If you have a lot of time on your hands, challenge yourself to make something from scratch. You can learn some great skills while working from home!

Here are a few recipes from blogs we’ve shared…

Italy’s Picorino Flan

Vietnam’s Egg Coffee

Italy’s Ricotta Cookies

Mexico’s Capriotada



pho Vietnam

Always wanted to try pho? Now’s your chance!


Make a playlist.

Music is a language all countries have in common, but learning the individual dialects is a delightful exploration! Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music are just a few of the streaming options available that can provide you with incredible variety in an instant. Tell Alexa to play Bocelli while you’re making homemade pasta. Get some Reggae grooving to complement your spicy Jamaican meatpies. Try Mariachi with your chunky guacamole. If you need some exercise after dinner (who doesn’t right now?), why not clear a path and try some dance moves too?


Create atmosphere at the table.

If you have kids (or even if you don’t) consider making decorations for the table that pull you into the culture you are exploring. There are some fantastic school websites that offer ideas for simple crafts. For example, on a night featuring Mexico why not consider DIY-ing Papel Picado? If you are “visiting” India, paint some peacocks (the national bird) onto your place mats. It’s not hard! If you plan ahead, you can also order something festive online and have it delivered right to your door.


Paper lanterns are a good decorative inspiration for a focus on Thailand.


Watch a documentary or travel show featuring the destination.

Gone are the days of black and white, monotone library films about other lands. We live in an amazing time when there are endless opportunities to enjoy fascinating, factual, and in-depth looks at every region of the world instantly into our homes from laptops and TV streaming services. Consider learning about butterfly migration in Nova’s Journey of the Butterfly, or watch a movie like Disney’s Queen of Katwe or Coco, or check out Anthony Bourdain‘s shows in Vietnam or follow foodie Phil Rosenthal to Thailand. International travel has been suspended for now, or has it?


Monarch butterflies, Mexico tour

Several quality documentaries feature the fascinating butterfly migration.


Pray for the country you “visited.”

All of the inhabitants of the world need our prayers right now. As you finish up your evening, take a minute to remember the people you may have met in the past while traveling, or the people you hope to meet in the future. Through prayer, we are all able to travel to other places and bless people right from the living room.


Of course, we all look forward to traveling again. In the meantime, stay joyful, hopeful, curious, creative and healthy.