Bored? Read on for 101 things to do when you’re bored. They’re all travel themed so you can scratch your travel itch and satisfy your wanderlust all without leaving home.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.
I started writing this post sat my hotel room in San Jose, Costa Rica. I was facing a five night stay in a city I wouldn’t normally visit for five nights but it was hardly normal times.
I was desperately trying to repatriate myself back to the UK while the world went into lockdown amidst the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Facing the most extensive travel ban I’ve seen in my lifetime, with little to no global travel for the foreseeable future, I started to think of ways I could satisfy my wanderlust without leaving my country and, at times, my home. (Note for the trolls: yes, I know there are many, many bigger issues than travel during a pandemic. Hop over onto the news websites if that is what you want to read. This is a travel blog so I’ll be following my usual travel theme.)
If you are stuck at home for a prolonged period, unable to travel, it’s very likely you’re bored. Here’s my suggestions for 101 travel themed things to do when you’re bored.
101 Travel Themed Things To Do When You’re Bored
In the order that they came out of my head (starting with your kitchen and food, always)…
1. Make a list of the favourite foods you’ve tasted on your travels – shakshuka (from Israel) and Sichuan green beans (from China’s Sichuan province) are on my list. Look up the recipes, track down the ingredients and cook them – I buy a lot of international ingredients using Amazon. Cooking has got to be one of the best things to do when you’re bored but even if you’re not into cooking, what about an exotic take-away/take-out?
2. Buy an International cookbook and plan a global food trip – get some inspiration here.
3. Try some exotic fruits or vegetables that you first tried on your travels – my favourite new fruit is granadilla (Colombia) – looks like snot, tastes like bubblegum. I also love rambutan (Asia). There’s probably a few unfamiliar ones to try on this list.
4. Make the national cocktail or drink of your favourite country. For me, it’s Prosecco. Or start with this list of 59 drinks from 59 countries.
5. Track down some coffee or tea from a country you’ve visited (or want to visit). I’ve previously treated myself to bags of Vietnamese coffee and Hawaiian Kona coffee online. Don’t know where to start? Try a coffee subscription.
6. Carry on learning a language you picked up during your travels. I’m currently picking my way through the first Harry Potter book, The Philosopher’s Stone, in Spanish. I’m only 2% in but I will persist. Tip: reading it on Kindle, there’s an inbuilt translator so you can tap a word and see the meaning in English. Not got a Kindle? You can download the app for free on any phone or tablet. Otherwise, I have the Kindle Paperwhite, which I love.
7. Learn a new language for your next trip. Try Duolingo which is brilliant and free.
8. Find a local language exchange meeting. There’s a Spanish one in my home city I plan to finally check out. Bonus: I expect to meet lots of interesting travellers and ex-pats.
10. Turn on the heating (or stand in your fridge if you’re trying to replicate a cold country) and dance around to your playlist. I bought myself some wireless headphones – some pretty fancy ones by B&O – and with the volume high and not having vacuumed (so I have texture beneath my feet ;p), I can almost pretend I’m at a Mexican beach club.
11. Listen to local radio from a past travel destination. I use TuneIn radio to get my fix of Spanish language and music (as well as a bit of Reggaeton) and when I lived in a cave in France, I had a fondness for the local radio there.
12. Check the local news (lighthearted sections only) of the last country you visited. I just use Google and my iPad for this.
13. Watch travel movies. I’m not much of a movie person but stuck home, sick last year I really got into travelling vicariously through movies. The Way (different to the song) fed my need to walk the Camino de Santiago. You don’t need me to tell you that if you watch one Netflix travel movie, many more suggestions will follow. Otherwise, here’s a list of 50 travel movies to work through.
14. Watch Tom Hanks’ travel disasters. See here for why you should never travel with Tom Hanks. Warning: contains spoilers.
15. Google all those things you meant to check when you were visiting a place but never got round to because you were too busy exploring (e.g. what is the difference between a rainforest and a jungle?)
16. Get in contact with someone you met on a trip – have a look through your social media list of contacts. A short ‘hello, remember me’ message could spark a fun chat with someone who also likes to talk about all things travel.
17. Send a postcard from your home country to some travel friends. Even in a world of online connection, most people get a thrill from receiving a postcard. I’ve been trying to send one to my 3-year-old niece from every country I’ve visited. So far, so good. I always add the date so she can look back and see where I was, when. You can send postcards without leaving home from a site like Touchnote.
18. Find some old-school pen pals and write a letter on actual paper (you’ll probably get one back). Here’s 10 websites for helping you find pen pals.
19. Organise your travel photos. I’m that smug person who has her travel photos organised digitally by year, country and place. AND I have them backed up. But I never used to be that person. And it took me a long time to get my backlog of photos sorted, so there’s a mammoth task for you if you’re looking to kill some time until you can travel again. I use Google Photos and also download a digital copy to a portable external hard drive. I have been using these by Seagate for years.
20. Learn how to edit your travel photos. While I may be Ms Smug when it comes to organising my photos, hitting ‘autocorrect’ is about as good as I get when it comes to editing. I keep meaning to do a Lightroom course (the most commonly used software by travel bloggers). One day. Until then, can you give it a go and give me the bullet-point low-down?
21. Create a slideshow of your travel photos. Now, this I do enjoy. When I have time. I tend to throw my pictures into iMovie (software that’s free with my Mac) but there are loads of alternative options out there. Here’s a list of free software options.
22. Create a video of your travel photos. Ever since another traveller told me about Go Pro’s free video editing software, Quik, I’ve been addicted. Take a bunch of short clips (or photos), load them into the app and, hey-presto, you have a video all ready to go with a number of style and music presets. You can edit it in more detail if you want. Here’s the first video I made in Myanmar using Quik.
23. Ask your friends to do the same then share your creations – what better than seeing a video of some place that you haven’t visited yet, complete with the smiling face of your bestie in it?
24. Print and frame some travel pictures – with printable photobooks available to order at the push of a button, there’s no good reason to store your photos where you can’t see them. Or why not just print a few of your favourites and make a collage on your wall? Doing something creative and travel themed is an excellent thing to do when you’re bored at home.
25. Upload your pictures/albums to social media – if, once upon a time, you made a pledge to upload all of your travels to your favourite social media site, there’s every chance your promise fell by the wayside part way through your trip. Use your non-travel time to finish what you started and share some travel joy with your friends in the meantime.
26. Watch some travel videos online – I put together a collection of some of my favourite travel videos here.
27. Make a note of every place you’ve ever visited – this doesn’t need to be a blue biro and scrap of paper list. Put pins on a map, start a travel journal, get something started online. You might not be able to travel but you can document and catalogue the trips you’ve already been on
28. Get planning your next trip(s) – it will happen again. You will take another trip. Question is: where do you want to go? How long for? When? And when is the best time to go? So many questions. So much planning. Best get started.
29. Buy a guide book. Sure, there are plenty of blogs out there (ahem, clears throat) but I still love paper guidebooks. My personal choice is always Lonely Planet.
30. Create some travel board on Pinterest – it’s the perfect place to start planning a trip. I organise my boards by country but also by kind of trips (beach, road trip) etc and then I get lost in all the beautiful pins. If you want to find me on Pinterest, I’m here. And you can find my Prosecco themed Pinterest here.
31. Research routes – even if you’re going on an organised trip, there are decisions to be made. Do you travel north to south, or south to north, where do you stop along the way. Pull out a map (digital or paper – most guidebooks have one) and do your research. It’s often by looking at a map that I’ve ended up visiting a place I might otherwise have entirely overlooked.
32. Research places to visit – you’ve got your country picked and route planned; what are you going to do there? What you don’t want to do is get all the way to Toppes de Collantes in Cuba, go on a huge hike and miss the main attraction (a very large waterfall). A friend of mine did that. I may or may not have been with her at the time.
33. Look at accommodation options – now we’re really getting into the detail of the trip and that’s a good thing because so many times, not planning or booking last minute, I’ve found the perfect place to stay only to find it’s been booked up for months. My go-too booking site is Booking.com.
34. Investigate ways of getting around – getting from point A to B is clearly another part of your trip planning. Is your intended country a place or rails or buses? Also, is there a more unique way to explore – camel through the desert in India, anyone? I use Rome2Rio for general transport options but either Get Your Guide or Viator to see if there are interesting travel options.
35. Check your travel gear – if you’re anything like me, you get back from a trip, wash the things that need to be washed, unpack the rest and then shove it all into cupboards to be dealt with…later. Now: is later. Which reminds me, time to buy some new bikinis. (Urgh. Anyone else hate shopping?).
36. Give your travel gear a good clean. Most of your travel gear won’t need replacing but I bet a lot of it could do with a bit of TLC. For example, I know I should pick out the dried breadcrumbs from the saw on my Swiss Army knife. Also, my hiking shoes don’t exactly sparkle right now. Getting things all ship-shape is one of the most productive things to do when you’re bored.
37. Treat yourself to some new luggage (if you need it and can justify the cost). If you want to find out what I use, check out my list of the best travel luggage here.
38. Create a travel fund saving jar – travel can be expensive especially if you’re already on a tight budget. Setting aside a dedicated jar and feeding it little and often, you’ll be surprised how the spare change builds up. Feel free to be shameless. Pop it in your hallway and rattle it when guests visit.
39. Create a proper travel saving budget with spreadsheets and colours and everything. Have a look at what you spend, how you could save and commit to a small weekly or monthly target. You might not always hit it but you definitely won’t hit it if you have no target at all.
40. Set up a dedicated travel bank account – there are plenty of free online bank accounts that come with cool apps to show you how your savings are doing.
41. Start a travel journal – first section: travel plans. I’ve kind of mentioned this above but what about a book where you keep all of your future travel plans. I have one (not true, I have several). Cut out pictures you want to dip your toe into. Who knows how many of those dreams you can turn into reality.
42. Gather all your travel memorabilia (ticket stubs and random trinkets) together – they usually act as very nice nice reminders of past trips.
43. Get crafty and make a travel box to put them all in – give your memorabilia a home. This is on my to-do list. It ticks both my arty side while keeping my OCD organisational needs happy. (Also stops me handing over my passport at the supermarket check-out line..just on the off-chance).
44. Start a travel blog – gather together all your old travel tales and put them online. If you’re looking for tips on starting a travel blog, you can read my list of 10 tips here.
45. Write a travel story and submit it to an travel publication – not only is it nice to see your name in print (though don’t underestimate how hard it is to get published), getting paid for the job is even nicer. Put your cheque straight into your travel fund.
46. Start a travel account on social media – there’s a reason those people who make +$100k a year on Instagram hit the headlines: it’s rare. But you never know… I do NOT make $100k a year on Instagram. But you can follow me nevertheless.
47. Put a map on the wall and pin every place you’ve ever been to. Want to make it look like a serial killer roving the globe? Hang bright string over the pins to plot your past and future routes. You can buy a pin-map here.
48. Do the same on Google maps if you don’t have the wall space. Free is always a good option. I create free Google maps for many of my blogs posts.
49. Figure out what percentage of the world you’ve been to already. You can take the quiz here.
50. Make a plan to join the Traveler’s Century Club – while I’m not a big fan of tick-list travel (that’s why you’ll often find me returning to places I love, like Italy, over and over). However, I would very much like to get to 100 ‘countries and territories’ of the 100 club, mainly so I can access their insider knowledge.
51. Check off how many world heritage sites you’ve visited. This is a Sunday afternoon, lying on the sofa task. Here’s the list. How did you get on?
53. Speaking of books – read some travel books. I’m such a book nerd that I read 100 books last year (here’s my tips for how to read more). I’m eventually going to update this post to 100 but for now, here are 50 travel themed books for your to get stuck into while you’re stuck at home.
54. Practice something you learned on a trip (yoga, tai-chi, massage?). For yoga, I love the Glo app. I also like making some of the recipes I’ve picked up on my travels like making sausage from scratch, guacamole and Italian pasatelli and crecia. Not into food? You could learn how to drink tequila like a Mexican. Mastering (or at least practising) new skills is one of the most satisfying things to do when you’re bored.
55. Make a collage or keepsake out of your travel souvenirs. Pinterest is going to be very useful if you don’t have any immediate ideas. Otherwise, check out these 20 suggestions for how to display keepsakes.
56. Get travel fit – whether you’re preparing for upcoming treks or just trying to shift a few pounds or kilos so you can indulge in the local cuisine, getting yourself travel fit (at the gym, outside or at home) is a good goal-oriented way to pass the travel time.
57. Have some rest – I’m serious. After just returning from a long trip, I’m ready for a nice, long rest. Travel is tiring and it’s best approached when fully rested.
58. Put a hammock inside your home – one of the first things I did when I quit the long-term digital nomad lifestyle was to sling a hammock up in my office. Yes, my office. I use it all the time and with my eyes closed and the window open, just for a minute I can imagine I’m swinging in some exotic breeze. You can check out some hammocks here.
59. Go down the travel hashtags rabbit hole on Instagram. I’ve started creating collections on Instagram including places I want to go, travel memes and things that generally make me escape when I’m not travelling.
60. Hook into the couch surfing community and find your local travel tribe. Since the rise of Airbnb, Couchsurfing seems to have waned in mass popularity but the community is still there. Tap into it locally even if you don’t have a couch where people can surf.
61. Join some local travel meet-ups – admittedly, these are easier to find in big cities but there are many travel expos or meetings to be found. If there isn’t one locally, you could think of starting one. Try meet-up.
62. Buy a guide book for your own country. Ok, so I did this when I got back to the UK after being on the road for 6 years…and the spine is still uncracked. Which means I need to take my own advice but at least I bought the book, right?
63. Explore your own country with a road trip or weekend break. Once you’ve opened the book (note to self), go and explore somewhere touristy. How on earth have I never been to Cornwall?
64. Try the most common foods from your home country that are recommended to visitors. This one I do fairly well at (snort-piggy-snort). Start by making a list of 10 local foods you’d recommend to an overseas visitor. Have you tried all of them? What about something more specific? I could easily make a list of 10 cheeses native to my home.
65. Hit all the tourist sites of home you’ve never visited. Pull out that World Heritage site list. Return to that list of 1000 places. How many of them are within your own borders? What’s the closest one? Start there and work your way outwards.
66. Fill your home with plants and nature. This was big on my list of things to do when I got back to the UK from my latest trip. With my home empty for a while and on the market, it was looking a bit barren of life. And nothing screams life as much as a plant slowly dying in your living room. Just kidding…than a plant flourishing next to your hammock, reminding you of tropical locales.
67. Travel via Google maps, satellite view. Not only does this tick the entirely lazy and complete free boxes, it’s pretty addictive travelling by Google maps. Scoot from the Taj Mahal to the Great Wall and on to London Bridge all in a few clicks.
68. Find a VR set and go diving or exploring. I personally wanted to vomit after my first VR dive but as someone who has crumby ear tubes, it’s likely the only way I’ll ever be able to do it. Plus, I didn’t need to leave home. Well, fine, I had to go to my dad’s house (because I don’t have a VR set and he does). Still, a very nice way to get out of your own environment for a while.
69. Ask someone to tell you their best travel story. Stories are a wonderful way to connect with people and I promise you everyone has a story to tell. Next time there’s an awkward gap in the conversation, ask: what’s your best travel story. We thrive on human connections so add this to your list of things to do when you’re bored.
70. Make your bucket list. We all have a jumble of items hanging around in our heads – things we’d like to do. Have you every written them down? Travel or not travel (for sure, your list will include travel), get going. The sooner you write it down, the sooner you’ll start ticking through them. A couple I’ve managed to tick off my list: Skydiving and swimming with whale sharks. Most recently, zip-lining over the rainforest canopy in Costa Rica.
71. Make a list of experiences you’d like to have. This isn’t a list of skydiving and ziplining, it’s more essential than that. It’s that life-changing hike across a country or pushing yourself so far out of your comfort zone you’re not sure you’ll make it back. My list is here.
72. Try to remember the name of your favourite restaurant (and what you ate) in every country you’ve visited. Personally, I’m going to need to access my photos to even make a start on this one but there are definitely some meals and restaurants that spring to mind. Like that time I tried Kobe beef in Japan. And pretty much everything I ate in New Orleans. Oh, and all the restaurants I have ever visited in The Prosecco region.
73. Start putting your old trips on Polar Steps. A travel friend introduced me to this app. I’m going to spend my home-time having a play.
74. Sell some of your travel photos. I’m serious. You’ve probably got at least one that’s good enough to print, frame and sell. You probably already know which one. Check out this article for suggestions of where to sell your photos online.
75. Enter competitions to win trips. If lack of funds is the main thing stopping you from travelling, do a search for travel competitions. Make sure they’re legit from good companies, and you shouldn’t have to pay to enter. What’s the saying: you’ve got to be in it to win it. And many competitions just require you to fill in your details or give a shout out on social. Easy. Peasy. For a beach that’s breezy.
76. Turn your living room into an old-school airport lounge. Tell your friends to pack a bag (as many over 100ml bottles as they like, ideally of the gin variety), bring their passport and play at travel. Sure, you’re a grown up and it might have been a while since you did let’s pretend but with the bar serving unlimited, pre-flight free martinis, it shouldn’t take long before you get into the groove.
77. Build your immune system for your next trip. As I mentioned above, travel is tough on the body. I flip-flop between home and healthy and travel and an unhealthy diet of restaurant and street food while rubbing up with all sorts of exotic bugs (dengue fever, anyone?). When I’m home, I double-down on my immunity boosting. From a clean(ish) diet to good rest and plenty of exercise, I try to get my body into as peak condition as possible (whilst retaining my cake habit, life is to be enjoyed, after all).
78. Video chat with old travel friends. Remember when you had so many travel-things to chat about? Ask them where they’ve been recently. Tell them about your plans. Reminisce about that time you lost your shoe to the ocean…just me?
79. Practice your currency conversion skills. Oh boy, I hate maths. Possibly more than I hate shopping and zucchini. In fact, I mentally set aside a ‘screwed it up’ amount for the first few days in a new country when I don’t quite get the exchange rate. It literally pays to practice your conversion skills, lest you end up paying $100 for a set of chopsticks in China that you thoughts were just $10 but were in fact silver plated. Happened to a friend of mine. This time I wasn’t there. Honest.
80. Research the customs and cultures in the next countries you plan to visit. Learning that swearing in Dubai is a criminal offence would have been useful to know before I let loose a torrent of expletives (as I’m prone to do, having somehow acquired the mouth of a sailor). Don’t be like me. Learn the culture. It could save you a trip to prison. (Did I mention that time I spent a night in a prison cell?) And a travel friend Tim had an experience in a prison in Panama.
81. Wear your travel clothes for the day. I’m kind of finding myself in this situation at the moment, having significantly pared back my winter wardrobe in anticipation of selling my apartment and going back on the road full time (both plans that fell through thanks to that silly virus). But you can choose to do it to conjure up some happy travel memories. Just be careful about answering the door in your hippy India trousers. Not everyone ‘gets’ it.
82. Is there a particular travel scent you can recreate? Any time I smell incense, I’m immediately taken back to India. And there’s a particular candle that reminds me of Hawaii. Have a think and see if you can recreate the scent at home.
83. Message me. I’m always down to chat about travel and I’m also looking for the excuse not to write that book I’ve had on my to-do list for a decade (I mean, case in point – I could easily have come up with 10 things to do when you can’t get your travel fix. That would have kept you busy enough).
84. Find 10 more travel blogs or vlogs or Instagrammers to follow. There are plenty out there and new ones popping up all the time.
85. Google fun facts about your next destination (also good for pub quizzes). Here’s a bunch of fun facts about England. Bet you didn’t know it used to be possible to put animals on trial for eating your crops.
86. Take a train or local bus route you’ve never taken near your home. I was deeply amused to find that Liverpool (my home city) has a place called Man Island. Fine, it’s spelt Mann Island. Yet it took me over a year to hop on the bus and go there. I had a lovely coffee, discovered that there were no more men than anywhere else but it was fun to explore a different part of my city.
87. Find the oldest thing in your country and visit it. You might need to get a bit more specific. Oldest town? Oldest building? Oldest tourist attraction. I went with oldest pub (obviously) which is reputed to be Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem…in Nottingham. It was old but the beer was fresh.
88. Go to the most visited thing in your country and see it though the eyes of a tourist. Do you even know what the most visited tourist site is in your country? I could make a list of contenders but I’d need to Google to know for sure. And there’s a very high chance I’ve not been never having visited Buckingham Palace or Westminster Abbey. I know, shame on me.
89. Dine out at a restaurant with cuisine you’ve never tasted before. It wasn’t until I got to South Africa that I tried Ethiopian food (I know, it makes no sense). There are plenty of other international restaurants I want to try – a Venezuelan restaurant is currently on my list.
90. Ask your parents where is on their bucket list. Is it possible to plan a trip there with them? One of my best travel decisions was taking my mum to Italy. She wasn’t one for travel or for keeping much memorabilia but when we cleared out her house after she died, I found a box of keepsakes she’d saved from the trip. Take those moments and create those memories with your parents when you can. If you can get them to pay for the trip, bonus (JK).
91. Get lost in the website of a luxury hotel you might never be able to afford to visit…but can always dream about. Hang on, I may be gone for a little while…
92. I’m back. Buy some scented flowers or a plant that take you back to a place you once went. Jasmine is my choice because it reminds me of so many places. Funnily enough, I just bought a hyacinth and that reminds me of my very own England. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep those plants alive which is an environmentally positive thing to do when you’re bored.
93. Dig out your old travel currency and see if you can remember the country just by sight or touch. I inadvertently play this after every trip because I’m a bit slow at changing out the currency in my purse and often find myself grappling with multiple currencies at the check-out. It’s not as easy as you think.
94. Use a sun lamp. I wither in winter. It’s why I like to spend most of it in tropical climates. Yes that’s not always possible. When it’s dark, I supplement my sunshine with a sun lamp. Don’t worry, it’s not the tanning kind. It just gives some bright light to keep me feeling energised. I have this one by Philips and have been using it for years.
95. Blend some fresh juices and smoothies. Oh, the fruit shakes from Thailand. The mango lassi from India. The blended sandia (watermelon) drinks in Mexico. Get a blender or juicer and take yourself back (while boosting your immune system). I swear by my Ninja blender.
96. Have a big travel breakfast. For most of us, that first meal of the day is usually a quick bite of something or is skipped entirely. When we travel, many of us take the time for breakfast. Whether it’s a croissant savoured with a coffee or a full plate of eggs and toast. Take the time. Have yourself a holiday breakfast. Even if it’s just once a week. Sunday is my day for this.
97. Visit an international supermarket (or shop online). I’m lucky to have lots of Chinese supermarkets in Liverpool and I can easily lose an hour wandering around the aisles, shopping for the ingredients I need to make all the dishes that take me back to Asia.
98. (Noticed how we’ve circled back to food?) Have an international food party with your house mates or friends – everyone brings a dish that reminds them of their travels. Either choose a theme or go wild and let everyone bring what they want from the country they love the most. You’ll probably end up with a lot of Italian food but that’s no bad thing.
99. Get a travel mag subscription. Whether you browse on your tablet or go for the proper paper version, diving into the glossy pages with high-end photography can be enough to scratch the travel itch for a while. I like National Geo Traveller and Lonely Planet.
100. Celebrate an international festival at home. Throw on a mask – Venice carnival. Sit in a muddy garden with your wellies on – Glastonbury. The world is full of many fantastic festivals. Why not recreate one at home? Here’s a list of suggestions to get you started.
101. Enjoy your time visiting earth. Not meaning to end on a morbid note but the reality is that we’re currently on a life-long visit to little old planet earth. The trip length is (hopefully) long but it’s not forever. We all have to leave eventually. Enjoy every moment you have. Look at the sky – isn’t it beautiful, even when it’s raining; the wind on your skin, even if you just stick your face out of the window; the local nature; the taste of food; the touch of another human. There’s a lot around you that you can explore in the every day. Why not start there?
That’s my guide to 101 travel themed things to do when you’re bored. Hopefully it will keep you busy. Any more to share? Let me know in the comments below…