Nature rings its signals when the seasons are changing – a reminder to us that time is moving on even though life feels like it’s standing still. It may seem a little premature to make any holiday plans just yet, even though the days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. We may feel a little cabin fevered, confined to our homes and geographical borders, but that’s not to say we can’t do a little armchair travelling of our own.
Here’s a roundup of some trips you can take without packing your bags or passport. All you’ll need is your imagination and appetite for wonder. (And maybe a trip back to pre-pandemic times where life seemed easier.)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, for an exhilarating dash around the world
This 2013 film was meant to shake salarymen out of their stupor and go for that thing they’re afraid of. See the world! Try that thing! Get out there! These days, it’s a wonderful balm (or maybe catalyst?) for that wanderlust ache as we all wait to travel again.
Based on the 1939 short story by James Thurber, the movie stars (and was directed by) Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty, who is working on the final issue of Life magazine. He finds himself saddled with a task that takes him out of his chair, embarking on an unexpected adventure of a lifetime. This film is worth it for the cinematography alone: almost every frame is a perfectly composed photograph. Available on Amazon Prime.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi, for the bustle of Tokyo
Jiro Ono is an 85-year-old sushi master of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only diner and once a Michelin three-star restaurant. This documentary profiles Jiro’s dedication to his craft and perfection, as well as explores the legacy he intends to leave with his sons. Guaranteed to make you craving for sushi and if Japan wasn’t on your travel bucket list before – it will be now. Available on Hulu.
The Mitchells vs the Machines, for a good old-fashioned roadtrip
What would once have been a summer blockbuster at the movies is now available for the whole family to enjoy on a Friday night at home. Katie Mitchell can’t wait to start her first year at film school – and get away from her family. But her parents have other plans to bond before she flies the nest. But those plans are soon thwarted by a robot uprising – now it’s up to them to save the planet and each other. It’s Little Miss Sunshine meets I, Robot – but with all the good feels. What’s a summer holiday without a family vacation? At this point, we even miss those car ride squabbles. Available on Netflix.
Outlander, for rolling Scottish highlands
Adapted from the best-selling book series of the same name by Diana Gabaldon, this drama than transports you around the world, but also through time. WWII British Army nurse Claire travels back to 1743 and finds herself caught between two lives, two men and two timelines. If you’re not already taken by the rolling Scottish highlands, Outlander has romance and politics, intrigue and suspense – at the very least, it’ll take you right out of reality for a while. Available on Netflix.
Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, for endless scenes of Stanley Tucci being charming in Italy
If Stanley Tucci has been regaling your lockdowns with his cocktail hour, then you’ll be ready to go on a trip with him across Italy to discover its many regional cuisines. A feast for the eyes (and your stomachs) – you’ll be in for a treat. Available on CNN Go.
The Bold Type, for glamorous New York moments
This light-hearted dramedy is perfect for if ever you wanted to reminisce being back in an office. Set in the offices of a fictional women’s magazine called Scarlet, The Bold Type is about three 20-something millennials navigating career, relationships and identity – all while beautifully dressed and set up against the glamourous backdrop of New York City. Kat, Sutton and Jane make Scarlet, the office you’d want to work at. Available on Netflix.
The Travel Diaries with Holly Rubenstein
Best described as the travel version of famed radio programme (and now podcast) Desert Island Discs, The Travel Diaries features celebrity guests sharing travel experiences that have shaped them in their lifetime. Famed guests include actor Dev Patel, chef Heston Blumenthal, fashion designer Anya Hindmarch and more. Guaranteed to stoke that wanderlust fire in you.
‘Crazy Rich Asians’ by Kevin Kwan
Although the movie adaptation came out in 2018, the novel is peppered with so many more nuances which embellish the lifestyles of the rich and ‘famous’ in glitzy Singapore. A light-hearted read which takes you into the cultures, traditions and gastronomic delight of the Southeast Asian city state – you won’t have to be crazy, rich or Asian to enjoy what Singapore has to offer.
‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig
Published in the midst of the pandemic, perhaps this story was what everyone needed while in deep despair. This novel is about a library beyond the edge of the universe with an infinite number of books, each with a story of another reality (from your current own). If you ever wondered how your life might’ve turned out differently if you’d taken another route, this story follows Nora Seed as she searches within herself and travels through the Midnight Library to find what makes life worth living in the first place.
‘Beach Read’ by Emily Henry
With a title like that, you’ll be hard pressed to find something else that will transport you out of your home. This could be a literal beach read – it’s definitely got all the makings of one. Two people, complete opposites, but are they perfect for each other? (Spoiler alert: they almost always are!) A feel good romance to look forward to, with or without the holiday.
Mabel Ho is a writer and editor. She loves pop culture criticism and podcasts, often listening to them at 1.5x speed like a monster. Follow her at @lynnegweeny