We’re at the stage of quarantine where mostly everyone has developed their own unique survival routine into a well-oiled machine. Some people have a daily walk scheduled or practice mindfulness by devoting time to weekly journal entries, others plan their 3 mile run on a set timer that has to go off at the same time every day or else their mojo completely unravels. However you choose to map out your days, it’s usually the culmination of all these little habits that allow us to still feel some level of control over our lives.
Me? I devote at least an hour every day to travel-related content. This is easily the longest stretch of time I’ve spent in one place and, yeah, it’s starting to take its toll. I know for satisfying mental stimulation, I require ways to mentally escape my confinement, and usually, that comes in the form of virtual travel!
I’ll admit, I’ve never really delved into the world of travel vlogging/programming before this quarantine. Though a lot of content has previously caught my eye, I’ve been too busy traveling to sit down and watch someone else doing it through a screen. Now “travel-TV” is one of the main pillars of my personal corona survival guide, and I’m so excited to be able to share with you some of my favorite programs!
Read on for some serious vicarious living, but be careful of that good ol’ travel bug; I’ve got a serious case of it myself, these days.
Available on Hulu, this 12 season series follows famous chef, journalist, and author, the late and great Anthony Bourdain around popular and undiscovered destinations worldwide. Because of his culinary background, Bourdain put special emphasis on highlighting the cuisine of each place he visited (which, you already know, I’m all about) and wasn’t afraid to delve into cultural stereotypes, unpacking them like a suitcase as he went. This is an especially great watch if you enjoy learning about the history of potential travel destinations; wherever Bourdain went, serious insight followed.
You can’t find these traveling brothers on your TV (unless you have a good HDMI cord, that is), but go to YouTube, type in the name of virtually any country, and the Vagabrothers’ videos are sure to pop up. Hosted by brothers Marko and Alex, this travel vlog will take you from Rajasthan, India to Cusco, Peru, and pretty much everywhere in between. Their channel is a healthy mix of country-specific travel guides, travel tips, and personal anecdotes. Vagabrothers is for you if you enjoy in-depth multi-part series (we’re talking 10 episodes) highlighting international regions to the fullest extent you’ll find anywhere online.
This is a show I’ve been hearing about for years, long before I became a traveler, myself; I’m super late to this game, but I have arrived, and boy am I glad to be here. The Amazing Race combines two of my favorite things in a marriage so harmonious, I may or may not be guilty of binging entire seasons in a single sitting. The show is centered around travel and classic reality-TV competitions, bringing pairs around the world to countries small and large to test their luck at $1,000,000. This is the show for you if you have a soft spot for watching random strangers yell at their significant others in beautiful destinations.
This might just be one of the best quarantine finds yet. David Chang, chef, author, and founder of the world-famous Momofuku restaurant group is the host of this Netflix series focused on specific dishes and food groups and their individual cultural histories. Ever wondered what “home cooking” means to someone whose home is 3,000 miles away from yours? There’s an episode for that. Want to watch a group of grown men visit a sauna that’s also a steak house? Yeah, me too, obviously. Ugly Delicious is a perfect show for anyone specifically interested in how food, travel, and social culture intersect. Oh, and anyone who’s looking for some sick international restaurant recommendations, too (always me).
For the twist everyone saw coming, the last honorable mention of this list is the fan-favorite, Planet Earth. PE isn’t just a show for stoners looking to set the “vibe” (no judgment), it’s also a genuinely great program for any fan of objectively stunning visuals, David Attenborough’s voice, and animals just doin’ their thing. Technically Planet Earth is an entire media franchise comprised of 5 television series, 2 films, and a 2-hour television special, so let’s just say there’s enough content to last us at least until the next wave of COVID. Planet Earth is a great choice for anyone looking for long drone shots created before they were cool.
Remember, everyone has their own unique ways of making this time as enjoyable as possible, and if watching travel programs just makes you more antsy and anxious to get out, don’t! There are plenty of ways to keep that adventurous side of you alive away from a screen, and if you’re looking for any, check out this article I just posted about fun travel-inspired recipes you can make from around the globe!
If food also isn’t your thing, well….you’ve come to the wrong place.
In all seriousness, if you have any special tips or tricks on making quarantine more traveler-friendly I haven’t explored yet, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and as always Travel Safe, Travel Covered!
Alexa Lieberthal is a professional actress, singer, and writer from Boston, MA. Though her passions are many, and range from fitness to Star Trek, the biggest of all is travel. Alexa is based in NYC, but has spent the past 4 years exploring and performing in places all over the world, including Western Europe, the Caribbean Islands, and the U.K. Most recently, she spent two years seeing the world by working aboard AIDA Cruises, singing and sailing and savoring the earth. The next place on her travel bucket-list is Berlin, Germany! You can follow Alexa's adventures on Instagram @ny.see and her website areneeact.com.