Four ways to have a holiday without leaving home

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With only the most essential trips now taking place, and many people confined to our homes, the coronovirus has proven far more powerful than the travel bug.

You needn’t feel trapped though.

Despite the global no-fly zone and instructions to stay home, there are plenty of ways to mentally escape while staying responsible and remaining right where you are.

The best books to satisfy your wanderlust

In the much-quoted words of Saint Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

When you’re prevented from traveling, there are a few better ways of transporting your mind to exotic destinations than through the pages of a book. And fortunately, almost every title ever published is now available through the click of your phone.

Tales focused on travel or set in far-flung locales come in all shapes and sizes. There’s book club fare: “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert or Frances Mayes’ “Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy,” for example.

To alleviate the current gloom, you can laugh along with the humorous observations of Bill Bryson, or get out of your head altogether with Bill Burroughs in an intense trip to Mexico and Tangier in “Naked Lunch.”

“Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy” is a book based on American author Frances Mayes’s purchase of a dilapidated villa named Bramasole in Cortona, Italy.

Guglielmo De Micheli/The Life Images Collection

Explore classics of a bygone time with E.M. Forster’s “A Passage to India” or the Italy and England-laden “A Room with A View,” or dig into the epic collections of adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton. At 15,000-plus pages for just $2.99 on Kindle, his work is an outstanding value at 50 pages per penny.

A fellow go-it-alone type, Burton would’ve gotten along splendidly with Paul Theroux, one of the finest travel writers at work today. Theroux’s 1975 travelogue “The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia” details a solo return journey from London through Europe and the Middle East, across India and Southeast Asia, then back through the former U.S.S.R. At the age of 65, Theroux gamely retraced the journey, recounting the trip in 2008’s “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.”

Steve McCurry’s photo of “Afghan Girl” as seen at an exhibition of his work at Collezioni Comunali d’Arte in Bologna, Italy on Nov. 30, 2018.

Roberto Serra – Iguana Press

Though he prefers to travel on his own, for the past three decades Theroux has partnered on numerous occasions with top photographer Steve McCurry, who snapped the famous “Afghan Girl” portrait. The duo’s latest collaborations — “Deep South” (2015) and “On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey” (2019) — use McCurry’s photos to illustrate Theroux’s travels and conversations in the American South and beyond the Mexican border.

Films to whisk you away to faraway lands

Should you prefer movies to the written word, cinema provides ample opportunities to escape the confines of your house and home city.

Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda ride through the desert in a scene from “Easy Rider.”

Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive

Fancy a virtual trip to the currently shuttered country of India? Go there with “The Darjeeling Limited.” A visit to Tokyo and Kyoto is inadvisable for now, but can be safely conducted via “Lost in Translation.” Borders are tight stateside, though you can road trip across America with “National Lampoon’s Vacation” or get your motor running with “Easy Rider.”

You can’t go to Phuket or Krabi in Thailand, but you can watch “The Beach” or the James Bond classic “The Man with the Golden Gun” (which comes with a “bonus stay” at The Peninsula Hong Kong).

Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Klaus-Maria Brandauer on the set of “Out of Africa,” a movie based on the book by Karen Blixen.

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Getting into Africa is iffy, though an evening with “Out of Africa” is no problem. “The Talented Mr. Ripley” puts Italy in your palm, while “Amélie” presents Paris at its most magical. As for London, would it be wrong given current circumstances to suggest “28 Days Later?” For something lighter, go with “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

Take your taste buds on a trip

Film and literature are far from the only avenues for imaginative traveling. Look up interesting recipes from different countries and cook a trip-around-the-world meal — a Thai appetizer, a Peruvian main course and a dessert from Spain, let’s say.

Order a mix of bottles from around the world and design your own international wine tasting at home.

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Order in a dozen bottles of vino from both old and new worlds and do a self-guided wine flight of fancy (or maybe just a half dozen if you’re isolated on your own).

Facetime with family and friends  

You probably aren’t talking as much as you’re used to. Call friends and family overseas (or even just across town) to inquire about them and what life is like where they are.

It’s never been cheaper or easier to chat with loved ones across the world, and chances are they’re feeling lonely too. Miraculously, today we can video call anywhere on earth 100% free of charge. Yet too often, we fall back on texts or social media messaging.

Let’s take this chance to change that. If social distancing means we can’t travel and embrace loved ones in person, the solution might just be to embrace technology-driven traveling instead.

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