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One of the great Frank Lloyd Wright design principles is to bring the outside in. Well, in the era of COVID-19, letting the outside in has never been more crucial. But ultimately, we’re trying to take it a step further and invite the world in. For the present, with international travel less of a possibility and distanced travel and road trips reigning supreme, we’ve taken to satiating our travel desire at home. And trite though it may seem at times, there really are smart ways to experience travel while grounded. We’ve rounded up not just tips on how to satisfy your wanderlust, but specific, globally-inspired shows to watch, books to read, podcasts to listen to, and of course, places to shop. Here, our favorite ways to let the world in.
Watching Travel Shows
Keeping up with a travel-related show is a great way to integrate more international flair into the media you consume. But, honestly, binging a travel show won’t be as satisfying—it’s over too quickly. Instead, choose a show, and designate a night of the week where you watch an episode (or two). This way, every Tuesday, you get to take a trip with prolific travelers and foodies, like Anthony Bourdain—and travel becomes part of your weekly routine. Your shows to queue up are:
A show that follows James Beard award-winning chef David Chang around the world, sampling the best international cuisine alongside artists, authors, and tastemakers. Stream Ugly Delicious’ two seasons on Netflix.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
No one globe trots like Bourdain. Parts Unknown follows this prolific and ever-discerning traveler on foodie-honed adventures across the globe. Watch all 12 seasons on Amazon.
Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi’s newly premiered Taste the Nation is available for streaming as of June 2020. The veteran Top Chef host is all about fully immersive travel—which means you’ll see her diving for her supper on the show, among other adventures. Stream the first season on Hulu.
Pairing a global-inspired cocktail or meal with a movie set abroad
Host travel-themed Friday movie nights in your house, where you pick a different destination each week—and a movie to transport you there. Then, whip up a beverage that reminds you of the destination, whether it’s a classic cocktail or a non-alcoholic frozen drink. Go a step further, and pair your movie with a full meal—you don’t have to be a great home chef to pull it off. Take to cookbooks from your favorite international chefs, or tune in to cooking classes via Instagram live. Don’t feel like moving or cleaning the kitchen? There’s no shame in just ordering in from your favorite Michelin-starred restaurants, many of whose celebrated executive chefs hail from around the world.
The Talented Mr. Ripley, Call Me By Your Name
Escape to Italy with this double feature; venture to Positano with Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow, and then to the northern Italian countryside with Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. You absolutely must pair an Italian liqueur with this adventure—we recommend a Campari-based beverage (perhaps a Negroni or a Boulevardier). As for dinner, pick a restaurant that makes pasta on-site, and be sure to over order; It’s the Italian way.
The Trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon
The Trip movies are the perfect travel flicks because they're plot-light and focus primarily on food and gorgeous vistas. And it doesn’t hurt that they're hysterical. There are four movies in total: The Trip, The Trip to Italy, The Trip to Spain, and The Trip to Greece. Enjoy The Trip to Spain with a pitcher of Sangria and a beautiful paella you make at home, and put on gyro night for your family (and maybe break out the Ouzo) when you watch The Trip to Greece.
Lagaan is arguably the most famous Indian movie in the western world. It’s a 2001 feature starring Aamir Khan, which catalogues the heart-wrenching tale of cricket match that could spare local villagers from high taxes under the British occupation. Drink wise, you of course have to pair it with a mango lassi—the classic Indian yogurt drink. Try your hand at chicken tikka at home, or order in masala dosas, saag paneer, and tandoori chicken.
Pick up a novel set abroad
You’ll need two things for this one: an exceedingly pleasant reading nook, and a book to transport you to the first place you’d go when international travel opens back up. And don’t feel like you need to stick to the classics—due respect to Henry James and E.M. Forster, but you don’t need to pick up The Portrait of a Lady or A Room With a View if they don’t call to you. We’ve collected our favorite books for armchair travel, some of the best travel-inspired coffee table books, and must-read travel books by black authors. For voracious readers looking for other titles, we recommend:
Hopping on the Murakami Train
A novice Haruki Murakami reader should start with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, a mysterious coming-of-age story set in Nagoya, Japan, before moving on to 1Q84.
Traveling to Morocco with Suzanne Clarke
Read A House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco, which brings the vibrancy of Moroccan culture to life while delving into the medieval history of the iconic city.
Taking a sojourn to the south of France
Immerse yourself in Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, which brings the reader through the French countryside with equal doses of wit, charm, and (occasionally misguided) adventure.
Check out travel podcasts
We may be grounded for the present, but evergreen travel podcasts are still being released. And these podcasts are a perfect way for you to start planning your next trip—which experts argue is actually good for your mental health.
Let’s Go Together
Travel+Leisure’s new podcast, Let’s Go Together, just launched on June 10 and is hosted by Kellee Edwards. It explores inspiring travel stories each week, from a man who defied the odds to climb Machu Picchu in a wheelchair to a couple who left their jobs for RV life, with the goal of visiting every national park in the country.
Wild Ideas Worth Living
Wild Ideas Worth Living is REI’s podcast, hosted by traveler Shelby Stanger. She follows athletes (think: mountain climbers and professional cyclists), entrepreneurs, and artists on their most daring and yet most restorative adventures.
Women on the Road
If you’re in the market for a podcast chronicling phenomenal women and their solo travel careers, Women on the Road has you covered. Laura Hughes focuses on female solo travel—and the lessons learned and life skills honed on the road.
Attend virtual events streamed around the world
Admittedly, the burnout that comes with interacting on a solely virtual level is real. It’s challenging to be on Zoom all day for work, only to have a Zoom happy hour or a livestream to attend at the end of the day. One of the things that takes the guesswork out of the virtual meetup mix is attending professional entertainment events put on by the pros—and featuring artists and performers that you’ve been long-time fans of. That’s where American Express Experiences come in. It’s the Amex entertainment hub, which offers exclusive access to livestream concerts, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and sporting events. Upcoming American Express Experiences include a tennis chat with Venus Williams, Pressoir.wine at-home sessions, and TINA, the Tina Turner musical.
Bring travel imagery into your home with puzzles, art-forward books, or prints
Bring your favorite travel sights to life in your home, whether that means through gorgeous travel prints shot by local photographers, or avidly jigsaw puzzling until you’ve recreated the Taj Mahal on your coffee table. Browse vintage travel art on Etsy and Society6, or tap photographers and authors on the ground—like Lindsey Tramuta in Paris or Nastasia Yakoub in New York City—to find their prints or beautifully artistic travel books. You can also find tasteful (and rather challenging) jigsaw puzzles of your favorite travel landmarks, from Copenhagen’s Nyhvn to the Grand Canyon.
International shopping—bring the world into your home and closet
Buying ethically, American-made home goods and clothes is important—especially amidst these trying times. And while international shopping shouldn’t take away from your best efforts to shop local, buying a few of your favorite international exports can certainly help you feel like you just got back from a shopping spree on the Champs-Élysées. Whether you’re keen on shopping the iconic international brands—Manolo Blahnik, Hermès, Issey Miyake—or would rather buy bespoke pieces from boutique businesses around the world, treat yourself to travel with a little international online shopping. Here’s where to start:
Artemest is a venture connecting buyers around the world with local Italian artisans to help design-savvy consumers find bespoke, handmade pieces. Shop their one-of-a-kind home furnishings and bring the Italian creative scene into your living room.
It’s hard to beat the iconic French fashion house, founded in 1837. For women, start with a classic Hermès silk scarf or a rare piece of jewelry. For men, browse their belts, watches, and ties.
The Citizenry works with artisans around the world, championing fair trade practices, and curating a minimalist selection for their clientele. They’re currently offering collections from Kerala, India and Oaxaca, Mexico, among many other ethically sourced decor pieces and home goods from around the world.