By Annalise Klingbeil
If finances, health or an effort to reduce your environmental footprint are keeping you from boarding a plane and exploring the world, don’t worry. A little creativity can go a long way. Try one of these ideas and enjoy learning about a new culture (or two) without actually landing in a new country.
Whatever their motivations, more Canadians are choosing to spend their vacation time at home on a “staycation.” The key to a successful staycation is to break out of your daily routine as much as possible. Don’t worry about the yardwork, let the housekeeping slide a bit, eat new foods and visit different people.
Pass the Popcorn
Go to your local video store or library and rent a foreign film. You may not be able to fly to China or India, but that shouldn’t stop you from immersing yourself in a new culture.
For a taste of India try 3 Idiots, a 2009 Indian comedy that broke all opening box office records in India. Rent the Taiwan-Chinese-Hong Kong-American co-production Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This low-budget film became a surprise international hit in 2000. Eat Pray Love is a recent North American release, based on a book which chronicles one woman’s journey to Italy, India and Indonesia.
If your favourite part of travelling is the new scenery, try watching the documentary Planet Earth. In this 11-part series, you’ll get a tour of the most amazing sites on the earth.
If you want to really feel like you have jetted around the world, spend a day watching a few of these movies. Pick a country as a theme and watch several movies set or made in that country. Pop some popcorn, curl up, close the blinds (so you can’t see the snow outside) and let these movies take you away, without the hassles of going through airport security.
Visit your local library to check out books and videos for extra savings.
Move over soup, tea, bread and other Canadian winter staples. It’s time for sushi, curry, éclairs and schnitzel. Invite your friends to bring a dish inspired from a far-away country. Nothing says Italy like pizza and pasta. The French are famous for crepes, quiche and éclairs, while the Vietnamese make some delicious noodles. By the end of the night you’ll feel like you’ve travelled halfway across the world.
You can visit ethnic food restaurants in your town or make your own. All Recipes.com has a wide variety of recipes you can try.
Find a new friend
Canada is home to millions of immigrants and hundreds of organizations dedicated to helping newcomers. Research the organizations that exist in your hometown and pick one to dedicate your time to as a volunteer. Helping immigrants practice English and learn Canadian customs is a win-win situation. Your time is being put to good use and you are bound to learn something as well. Volunteering with newcomers will allow you to learn about a new culture, country and person.
Imagine you had one day to see the city you call home. What would you do? Where would you eat? What would you take photos of? Pack your camera and wallet and spend a day as a tourist in your hometown. Do all those things tourists do- visit the zoo, eat at the famous burger joint, walk around downtown and visit the local candy shop. Just because you live there doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your city the way tourists do.