My 5 Favorite Ways to Travel Virtually Right Now

Until I can get on a plane or train again, I am determined to bring some travel spirit to life in lockdown.

My 5 Favorite Ways to Travel Virtually Right Now

The Boulders Resort & Spa in Arizona is the perfect backdrop for an astrology reading, when we can travel again.

Courtesy of Boulders Resort & Spa

At AFAR, we’re recreating days in destinations across the world, including Paris, Rome, and New York in our own homes.

Here are five ideas that have brought me closer to places and people in Arizona, Africa, Italy, and more.

Get a personal reading from an Arizona astrologer

I called my favorite astrologer, Tom McMullan, a few weeks ago. I had my first appointment with him 15 years ago and most recently from the Boulders Resort & Spa in my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. The Boulders has a landscape of cacti and rock, desert-luxe rooms, and starry nights that make you feel like you’re in a spiritual vortex—the perfect backdrop for an astrology reading. Tom is still based at the Boulders, but he also does readings over the phone.

For a personal reading, you send your date, time, and place of birth, which Tom calls your “natal” reading. Then he combines that with your “transit” chart, which reflects where the stars and planets are now and how their positions relate to where they were when you were born. I enjoy trying all sorts of mental and physical wellness pursuits, especially while traveling, and don’t subscribe to any one as the answer to everything, but my personal readings have always been incredibly insightful, providing clarity on career decisions and relationships where I felt stuck.

“I do 10 years of therapy in an hour, giving you permission to be who you really are and why you’re here,” he says. “Astrology is a symbol language, reading the energy of the planets.”

And we’re all wondering—what is going on now in our crazy world? Tom gave me confidence in my own story but also the larger global one, that we are going to be fine, and it’s written in the stars. He also believes in soul mates. But that’s another story.

Rediscover the power of coloring

Embark, a luxury travel advisory, has launched Embark@Home, an impressive array of cooking and fitness classes, children’s activities, and hotel Spotify playlists that anyone can access.

Most inspiring of all is a stunning printable coloring book produced in partnership with New York–based artist Elizabeth Sutton.

Sutton took inspiration from travel images of hotels and destinations, including Cuba, St. Bart’s, Greece, and Israel, and sketched uncolored images for travelers to fill in themselves. She was supposed to have an art exhibition at Eden Rock in St. Bart’s just before the lockdown started.

“My greatest artworks are inspired by my travels around the world,” Sutton says, “and this coloring book reminds me of moments that represent freedom, relaxation, fun, and adventure. I personally heal through my art and travels, so I figured, why not offer the same to the world? If we can’t be there, we can at least dream, and be creative. Art heals.”

So that’s what I did: Instead of mindlessly scrolling through old travel photos on my phone, I tried to heal through art and travel via coloring book. I chose the Brooklyn Bridge template, gathered my 18-month-old’s chunky pencils and washable markers, and got to work. I didn’t check the news for 30 minutes. I highly recommend it.

Meet a hilarious new travel companion

If it’s a travel show, I love to watch it. Rick Steves and Samantha Brown are the king and queen of travel TV hosts, in my opinion, but I just discovered Phil Rosenthal’s Netflix show, Somebody Feed Phil, and I’m totally hooked. Rosenthal was the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, and now he’s your new best friend, bringing you around the world. The show revolves around Phil’s love of food and restaurants, but it is the heartwarming, hilarious scenes with the people he meets—in Venice, Dublin, NYC, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, Saigon, and more—that make this show one of the best. He cares about people. He also video calls his parents in every episode, and their conversations are laugh-out-loud funny. Season three arrives in May.

Go on virtual game drives in Africa with Singita

I’ve been to Africa once—a 10-day trip to South Africa and Victoria Falls, Zambia—and it casts a spell unlike any other destination. But during this time, I have become obsessed with learning more about the continent and mapping out where I want to go next.

Singita’s virtual game drives through countries such as Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa have been wonderful escapes. They bring you as close as you can get right now to elephants, giraffes, leopards climbing trees, and lions eating their kills. You can see the early evening light filtering through the landscape and imagine a sundowner cocktail after you finish your game drive. With Singita’s world-class guides narrating and taking you along, you learn a lot in a few minutes.

Feed your curiosity

Curiosity helps you become a better traveler. To go beyond my weekly travel industry phone calls, I signed up for webinars with experts via Global Landscapes Forum, an organization devoted to sustainable landscapes. Last week’s program discussed the staggering food crisis, and while the news is not exactly optimistic, it made me feel better to be informed.

And I’ve signed up for two Context Conversations. Like Indagare’s wonderful Global Classrooms program, these talks bring experts and destinations home to you. Up next for me are “Holland’s Garden History: Inside Tulipmania” and “The Sistine Chapel in Depth.”

>> Next: The True Value of Luxury Travel Is Higher Than We Think

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