Okay, so you’re stuck at home. All the time.
I love to travel and am known for my inability to stay in one place for very long, but sometimes I decide I need to be at home to help.
How can I stay at home without feeling trapped?
I remember why I’m staying at home. I’m here because someone I love needs my support and I want to be there for them. There are plenty of times when I wish I could be somewhere else, but it’s important to me that I’m a good spouse and a good granddaughter, so here I am at home.
I find ways to experience the world without really going anywhere. What do I mean by that? I’ve always been excellent at keeping myself entertained (oh boy does my mom have stories!). There are lots of ways to invite the world in to where I am at home.
Watch a documentary
Netflix, Amazon Prime, and ye olde TV have an endless supply of documentaries to choose from. Believe me, it’s easy to learn more from a documentary than you would learn from spending a week in a place. Pick one out and let it take you on an adventure. And then, if you’re like me, you’ll end up with a whole collection of things to research.
I also go through phases where I watch foreign movies. Back in the dark ages before streaming movies, my dad used to buy German DVDs in bulk off of eBay and take a chance on what he got. Let’s just say that he very quickly realized that was a bad strategy. As a consequence, I’ve seen a lot of weird foreign films.
Read a book
Documentaries are fun, but sometimes it’s nice to put your brain to work. I used to go to my local library often enough that the guy who worked in the mornings was consistently the only person who ever noticed when I got a haircut. Nowadays I don’t make it over as often because the NYPL has an app that allows me to download digital books to my phone (and my wife’s Kindle). Amazon Prime lets you download books, too. If you’re afraid that staring at the screen so much is going to make you blind, it’s time to pull those classics off the shelf and give them another go.
Go to a museum
Most museums and art galleries are pretty good about accessibility. Check out the museums in your area – usually someone will be (reasonably) happy to tell you if they have accessible bathrooms, ample seating, and an off-peak time so you can skip the crowds. Many museums also have discounts for seniors and students. You can even ask your local library or friends if they have a museum pass they’ll let you borrow.
Write about your travels
I’m not really sure if this fans or cools my wanderlust, but I’ve taken advantage of my time at home to write up my travel adventures or curate my photo collection.
Master a new type of cooking
Learning to cook a country’s national dishes teaches you a lot about a culture. As Tembi reminds us, it also brings us closer to the ones we love. And it’s delicious. When I was in high school I’d have to track down specialty grocery stores and “ethnic” stores to find ingredients that are now on the shelves of my neighborhood store. Pick an ingredient you can’t identify and figure out how to use it. Trust me, it’ll be fun. Just keep food safety in mind.
Host a visitor
I’m obsessed with CouchSurfing. Okay, I know this sounds insane. Who would want to stay with someone who’s ill and what ill person wants visitors? Travelers are people who have disabled and ill relatives, just like you, and they know it’s not a big deal. Everyone likes having someone new – who hasn’t heard grandma’s stories 600 times already.
Be a kid
Want to go camping? Set up your tent indoors. Rearrange the living room into a craft zone jungle. Keep an eye on the trash for giant cardboard boxes that could be pirate ships, forts, or time machines. Live it up. No age is too old to have fun.
My adventures have introduced me to a lot of amazing people from around the world. Tomi, Sabina, and Jeff all give me ample opportunities to explore vicariously (and want to eat all the time). I love following along at home. I also enjoy the postcards that appear in my mailbox at random intervals, sometimes from people I haven’t heard from in years.
And if you really can’t bear to stay home anymore, a friend of mine is starting a travel agency for special needs kids, so stay tuned for that.