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5 Ways You Can Support People around the World from the Comfort of Your Own Home

By Jeanette Zinno
April 2, 2020
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Travel makes the world a better place. When humans are exposed to other cultures and ways of living, we open up and grow as individuals. With the freedom of travel currently on pause because of the COVID crisis, there are other ways to connect with the global community and make the world a better place.

While staying isolated (or at least 6 feet away) can help us all locally, there are more ways that we can help globally, other than by donating money to a charity. With the current travel bans in place, here are a few ways global travellers, wanderers and sun-seekers can connect and give back on an international scale, all from the comfort of your own home.


1. Find an International Pen Pal

Remember grade school days when you wrote to a pen pal in another country? How fun it was to check the mail waiting to receive a letter back from a friend you had never met before. This is the perfect time to reach out and connect with someone globally, someone who may be going through a tough time being isolated and needs a pal.

Fast-forward to modern day, there are so many ways to find a new friend around the world with sites like PenPal World and International Pen Friends. There is even a student letter exchange for younger writers called, Students of the World. With all of these websites, you can decide if you prefer contact through email, video calls or snail mail, but I have to say there is something whimsical about getting a physical letter in the mail these days.

2. Write an Online Business Review

With time on our side, make a list of your favorite businesses that you’ve supported while traveling and give them a positive online review. These can be any kind of small businesses like souvenir shops and restaurants, to tour guides and concierge services. Enjoyed that Eiffel Tower tour guide in Paris or that delicious pasta making class in Tuscany? Write a review!

Take some time to write about these businesses on Yelp or Google or on tour operators sites such as, GetYourGuide or The Tour Guy. Businesses that are fueled by tourism will be among the businesses that are hit the hardest by the current travel restrictions. Your review will create positivity during an unclear time and support their business when travel restrictions are lifted.

3. Donate Your Time

If you have a valuable skill set that others can benefit from, why not donate your time to projects around the world that could use your help? Consider donating your time to support a global charity (via Skype or email) if you have the ability to do so. For example, if you’re an architect, consider drawing up plans for a far-off project or as a writer, consider drafting a newsletter about the charity of your choice to get more exposure. Whatever your skill set is, you get the idea!

Don’t know where to start? There are many ways to find an international charity to assist, or maybe you already have a non-profit in mind and can contact them directly. However, there are also sites like, The Taproot Foundation that helps to connect nonprofits with skilled volunteers that would like to share their expertise pro bono. You could contribute invaluable knowledge to a charitable project in a developing country without even leaving your home.

4. Shop & Share Global Artisans

Artisans around the world are another group of people that will be hit hard by the current travel restrictions. These are the people that make most of their living by selling their work to tourists, like beautiful baskets or handmade jewelry. Some of these small businesses also sell their goods online, where people around the world can either shop to support them or simply share their website with others that may be able to support them. If you can’t afford to shop at this time, you can simply share their website on any social media platform or by email to give them exposure to a new set of potential supporters.

5. Donate Supplies

Product donations are a great way to support those in need around the world. Whether you have extra supplies hanging around, you are crafty and can make certain supplies or if you simply want to purchase items to donate. Any and all donations are welcome to charities in need.

In the current state of affairs, many people are sewing facemasks to donate around the world. But nonprofits accept other types of supplies too – from pharmaceuticals and basic hygiene products to clothing and education supplies. World Vision is an example of an organization that helps facilitate product donations around the world. This is a simple way to support others without breaking the bank.

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Inspiration

Pilots have been using their aircraft to spell out messages during the COVID-19 outbreak

Pilots have been using their aircraft to spell out requests and share uplifting messages on radar tracking maps during the COVID-19 outbreak. Governments and health officials have been promoting the "stay home" message to save lives during the COVID-19 outbreak in the weeks and months to come. Earlier this month, a pilot used his plane to drive that message home by spelling out "stay home" in the sky over Austria. The pilot, whose identity is unknown, was flying a private DA40 aircraft at the time. The flight departed from an airport in Wiener Neustadt, about 50 miles south of Vienna, and returned 24 minutes later after spelling out the social distancing message to the world. ⛑👍 A Magnus Fusion 212 pilot took to the sky over Hungary today to show their appreciation for healthcare professionals. See playback at https://t.co/nO3dzQtlQ9 pic.twitter.com/EpyMloIxMW— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 27, 2020 And on Wednesday, a pilot at the helm of a Magnus Fusion 212 showed their appreciation for healthcare workers by drawing a thumbs up, alongside a medical cross in the sky over Hungary. The message comes as people across the world have been taken part in mass rounds of applause from their windows, balconies and doorsteps in support of healthcare workers and frontline responders battling the coronavirus pandemic. Both messages were recorded by Flightradar24, the global flight tracker that provides real-time information about air traffic around the world. This piece originally ran on our sister site, Lonely Planet.

Inspiration

10 ways to travel the world without ever leaving home

These are trying times for travelers. Being home-bound is a most unnatural state for globetrotters. We will be able to travel again. But for now, we must stay at home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As we all do our part to flatten the curve we can transport ourselves to faraway locales thanks to these virtual experiences that will help you get away from the safety of your own home. 1. Learn a new language Should you feel motivated to learn a new skill while you're grounded, opt to study a language you’ve always wanted to learn. Being bilingual can help you achieve greater mental clarity and improve cultural understanding. Perhaps you want to focus on a language that is spoken in many countries such as Spanish, French, or Portuguese. Or, select a language from a country you’re eager to visit. Either way, improving your linguistic skills will help you communicate once you are able to visit and help pass the time at home. Language app Babbel was created by a team of more than 150 linguists and teachers. 2. Take virtual tours of museums Keep your sense of wanderlust alive by bringing the world to you by taking virtual tours of museums in your hometown and far off locations. Google Arts & Culture can transport you to over 1,200 museums from 80 countries. If you love art, transport yourself to some of the best art museums on the planet with virtual tours from Google Arts & Culture of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles or the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk. You can even hold a private audience with Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Galleries. Go overseas by taking a tour of the Israel Museum. Develop a new artistic obsession by touring niche galleries such as the Corning Museum of Glass. 3. Lose yourself in music Music heals and in these uncertain times, artists around the globe are offering their gifts. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is offering a free stream of its most celebrated shows. The Philharmonie Berlin opened its digital library of performances of over 600 shows to enjoy by using the code BERLINPHIL by March 31 for a 30-day access. OperaVision is showing free recorded performances from all over the world including the Royal Swedish Opera and the Polish National Opera. YouTube is a free resource to find free music from all over the world such as Calypso from the Caribbean, Flamenco from Spain, and Candombe from Uruguay. 4. Be mesmerized by wildlife Ethical animal encounters are a major motivator for travel. These nine wildlife webcams offer access to your favorite animals. You can watch giant pandas at the China Conservation & Research Center or go on a virtual safari at Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa. Watch rescued bears at the Arosa Bear Sanctuary on the bear-cam. If you don’t want to try your chances and wait to see if wildlife comes into view in the lens, watch wildlife documentaries from the countries you hope to visit in the future. Virunga will teach you about the gorillas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Untamed Romania will introduce you to the bears of the region, and Pacificum takes you into Peru’s oceans. For pure sweetness check out the 24/7 Farmer John baby goat cam. 5. Have virtual bucket-list experiences Virtual reality can help you reach destinations you’ve always dreamed of seeing. You can reach the summit of Matterhorn Mountain in the Swiss Alps and fly over the Duomo in Florence through Google Earth's virtual reality offerings. Surround yourself with nature through the live stream of the first National Park in the U.S., Yellowstone and the live feed of the Upper Yosemite Falls. Hike the Great Wall of China from the Jinshanling to Simatai sections without breaking a sweat. Take a virtual tour via webcams of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and watch Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. 6. Travel through your taste buds Many cooking classes are being offered digitally from the homes of chefs around the world and through food tours. In Florence, Italy, Il Salviatino’s Executive Chef, Silvia Grossi, is leading cooking lessons on Instagram from her home kitchen with easy recipes using ingredients you likely already have at home. Iberostar’s Honest Food how-to recipe videos offer healthy multicultural fare that you can whip up at home to travel the world through flavors including Yucca and Chicken Tamales and Vegan Tiramisu. Find inspiration by watching My World Kitchen where children show you how to make traditional dishes from their countries or binge-watch Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown (Netflix) and Emeril's Eat the World (Amazon Prime). 7. Have a video date with a foreigner There’s no time like the present to give love a chance. Fairytrail is a dating app for travelers and focuses on video chats. Connect with someone who interests you and learn about their culture and customs through their own experience, and share yours. If love sparks you’ll have a romantic trip to look forward to after society has healed from COVID-19 8. Unwind with a travel movie It’s no secret that movies are the best distraction. Find titles from countries you want to visit or re-watch old favorites and be transported to your dream destinations. Check out our reader-recommended list of travel movies. If you like rom-coms, watch Under the Tuscan Sun (Hulu) or Mamma Mia (Netflix). For drama and vistas of European mountains watch The Grand Budapest Hotel (Amazon Prime). If you’re craving the beautiful beaches of Southeast Asia watch The Beach (Amazon Prime). Or catch up on travel documentaries for a bit more of a realistic take on the destinations you’re dreaming of such as Encounters at the End of the World (Amazon Prime) filmed in Antarctica and Under An Arctic Sky (Amazon Prime) to see people surf under the Northern Lights. 9. Pick up a travel-centric book From true-adventure non-fiction travel novels to travel guides about the destination you're yearning to visit, now is a great time dive into some travel literature. Read guide books from our sister site, Lonely Planet. For inspiration, check out our list of 10 books every traveler should read. We won’t judge you if you want to re-read Eat, Pray, Love in these uncertain times and get swept away by intoxicating destinations, food, and passion. 10. Plan your dream trip There’s so much uncertainty around the world right now but one thing we’re confident about is that travel will make a comeback. After being cooped on for what seems like the indefinite future, we will once again explore the globe. COVID-19 has stalled travel plans but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek inspiration for your future adventures. Prepare for when future dream travels are made possible again by browsing Lonely Planet's destination guides for ideas when creating your itinerary. Read about the history of the destination, research which sites you want to visit, where you want to have your morning coffee, and locate boutiques for finding the perfect keepsake. Lola Méndez is an Uruguayan-American freelance journalist. She writes about sustainability, travel, culture, and wellness for many print and digital publications in addition to her responsible travel blog, MissFilatelista.com. She's a full-time globetrotter who travels to develop her own worldview and has explored over 60 countries. Passionate about sustainable travel, she seeks out ethical experiences that benefit local communities. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Inspiration

15 travel movies to get you through quarantine

To get through the COVID-19 quarantine crisis, we polled our readers for some of their favorite travel movies. Here is a list of 15 movie recommendations to scratch your travel itch while you're stuck at home: Eat Pray Love (rent on Amazon for $2.99) Liz Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having -- a husband, a house, a successful career -- yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali. Under the Tuscan Sun (Hulu) Frances Mayes is a 35-year-old San Francisco writer whose perfect life has just taken an unexpected detour. Her recent divorce has left her with terminal writer's block and extremely depressed. Her best friend, Patti, is beginning to think that she might never recover. "Dr. Patti's" prescription: 10 days in Tuscany. It's there, on a whim, that Frances purchases a villa named Bramasole--literally, "something that yearns for the sun." The home needs much restoration, but what better place for a new beginning than the home of the Renaissance? As she flings herself into her new life at the villa in the lush Italian countryside, Frances makes new friends among her neighbors; but in the quiet moments, she is fearful that her ambitions for her new life--and new family--may not be realized, until a chance encounter in Rome throws Frances into the arms of an intriguing Portobello antiques dealer named Marcello. Even as she stumbles forward on her uncertain journey, one thing becomes clear: in life, there are second chances. Secret Life of Walter Mitty (FX Now) (Rent on Amazon for $3.99) Ben Stiller directs and stars in THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, James Thurber's classic story of a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Lost in Translation (Starz, rent on Amazon for $3.99) After making a striking directorial debut with her screen adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola offers a story of love and friendship blooming under unlikely circumstances in this comedy drama. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a well-known American actor whose career has gone into a tailspin; needing work, he takes a very large fee to appear in a commercial for Japanese whiskey to be shot in Tokyo. Feeling no small degree of culture shock in Japan, Bob spends most of his non-working hours at his hotel, where he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) at the bar. Twentysomething Charlotte is married to John (Giovanni Ribisi), a successful photographer who is in Tokyo on an assignment, leaving her to while away her time while he works. Beyond their shared bemusement and confusion with the sights and sounds of contemporary Tokyo, Bob and Charlotte share a similar dissatisfaction with their lives; the spark has gone out of Bob's marriage, and he's become disillusioned with his career. Meanwhile, Charlotte is puzzled with how much John has changed in their two years of marriage, while she's been unable to launch a creative career of her own. Bob and Charlotte become fast friends, and as they explore Tokyo, they begin to wonder if their sudden friendship might be growing into something more. Midnight in Paris (Showtime, rent on Amazon for $3.99) This is a romantic comedy set in Paris about a family that goes there because of business, and two young people who are engaged to be married in the fall have experiences there that change their lives. It's about a young man's great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better. Into the Wild (Showtime, rent on Amazon for $2.99) Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead, 22 year-old Christopher McCandless instead walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people. Was Christopher McCandless a heroic adventurer or a naïve idealist, a rebellious 1990s Thoreau or another lost American son, a fearless risk-taker or a tragic figure who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature? McCandless' quest took him from the wheat fields of South Dakota to a renegade trip down the Colorado River to the non-conformists' refuge of Slab City, California, and beyond. Along the way, he encountered a series of colorful characters at the very edges of American society who shaped his understanding of life and whose lives he, in turn, changed. In the end, he tested himself by heading alone into the wilds of the great North, where everything he had seen and learned and felt came to a head in ways he never could have expected. Edie (Rent on Amazon for $3.99) Following the death of her husband, Edie (Sheila Hancock) breaks free from years of his control and rebels against her daughter's wish for her to move into assisted living by embarking on an adventure she and her father had always longed for: a trip to the Scottish Highlands to climb the world famous Mt. Suilven. Along the way, she hires young camping shop owner Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) to be her guide. Despite the generational differences, Jonny encourages Edie to fulfill her dream. 7 Years in Tibet (Rent on Amazon for $2.99) Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Name of the Rose, Quest for Fire) directed this Becky Johnston adaptation of Heinrich Harrer. In 1943, an Austrian mountain climber-skier (Brad Pitt) escapes from a British internment camp in India, travels over the Himalayas, arrives in Lhasato, and becomes friends with the Dalai Lama. Filmed in Argentina, Chile, and Canada. Life of Pi (Rent on Amazon for $3.99) Director Ang Lee creates a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with another survivor...a fearsome Bengal tiger. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Rent on Amazon for $3.99) When they turn 16, four lifelong friends are upset over the prospect of spending their first summer apart. As they scatter to different locations, their one bond is a cherished pair of jeans they've shared. Each will keep the pants for two weeks of her trip, passing them on to the next girl. Each faces serious coming-of-age problems, and somehow the pants help them through. National Lampoon’s Vacation (Hulu) The first film in the Vacation comedy franchise stars Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, an ad exec who becomes consumed with taking his family cross-country to Wally World, a California amusement park. Less a vacation than a descent into a peculiarly American kind of hell, the Griswolds suffer through an endless series of catastrophes, culminating in a run-in with the law. Up in the air (Amazon Prime, Hulu) Ryan Bingham, a corporate hatchet man who loves his life on the road, is forced to fight for his job when his company downsizes its travel budget. He is required to spend more time at home just as he is on the cusp of a goal he's worked toward for years: reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams. Cast Away (Cinemax, $3.99 Amazon) An exploration of human survival and the ability of fate to alter even the tidiest of lives with one major event, Cast Away tells the story of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a Federal Express engineer who devotes most of his life to his troubleshooting job. His girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) is often neglected by his dedication to work, and his compulsive personality suggests a conflicted man. But on Christmas Eve, Chuck proposes marriage to Kelly right before embarking on a large assignment. On the assignment, a plane crash strands Chuck on a remote island, and his fast-paced life is slowed to a crawl, as he is miles removed from any human contact. Finding solace only in a volleyball that he befriends, Chuck must now learn to endure the emotional and physical stress of his new life, unsure of when he may return to the civilization he knew before. Cast Away reunites star Hanks with director Robert Zemeckis, their first film together since 1994's Oscar-winning Forrest Gump. Mile, Mile and a Half (Netflix) Filmmakers Ric Serena and Jason Fitzpatrick follow an ever-growing group of adventurous young artists on their ambitious quest to hike all 219 miles of California's John Muir Trail. Expedition Happiness (Netflix) Two free spirits, one dog. Traveling the vast spaces of an enormous continent in search of something more.

Inspiration

9 ways to teach your kids about the world without leaving home

Do you want to travel the world with your kids but find yourselves limited by finances, school holidays, illness, or your family’s environmental impact? While you may struggle to completely replicate the incredible experience of travel, there are plenty of ways you can introduce your kids to the world without even leaving your home. As Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Use these ideas to have family adventures from home, while leaving no carbon footprint. There are many great resources to help families explore the world from home © Teresa Short / Getty Images1. Read fact books and atlases From Dr Seuss to Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and beyond, fiction is a fantastic way to take kids on a journey to faraway places. But in terms of properly learning about the world, nothing beats a really good atlas or fact book. Thankfully, any decent bookshop has a wealth of beautifully-illustrated, carefully-researched and well-designed children's non-fiction books about our wonderful world. We’re not just talking about our own range of Lonely Planet Kids books here. Keep younger children busy with Usborne’s Lift the Flap Picture Atlas, while older kids will love learning about how geography has shaped the political world with the children’s version of Prisoners of Geography. Maps is another one to treasure with detailed pages of cultural information overlaid onto regional maps. If you’re looking for more ideas, family travel bloggers at ytravelblog have put together 12 suggestions for books about maps for kids. Get creative with junk modelling, or build landmarks with blocks © Cavan Images / Getty Images2. Get crafty and creative Toddlers exploring new lands in cardboard boats, younger children fashioning landmarks with play dough, wooden bricks or Lego, and tweens and teens making laser cut models or 3D puzzles from kits; whatever age your kids are there are ways to create something fun together which tells them a bit more about the world. To get you started, our Cardboard Box Creations book has lots of ideas for junk modelling, the Brick City series shows you how to make landmarks from New York, London and Paris from Lego and you can even build your own History or Dinosaur Museum. Both Lego’s Architecture series and CubicFun’s three-dimensional models are big hits with older children – and making these together is a lovely way to bond with your increasingly independent tween or teen. If you want to keep things simple, get the kids making their own map or drawing a landmark. Colouring in a world map on a doodle pillowcase is a surprisingly educational and mindful activity for the whole family. Learn about a culture through its food © Zurijeta / Shutterstock3. Take a culinary tour Is there a better way to get to know another culture than through its food? If you can’t get first-hand experience of these new tastes then bring them into your own kitchen. Use kids cookbooks such as The Around The World Cookbook or follow the BBC show My World Kitchen where children from different countries show you how to make a typical dish. Make it even more fun by turning your kitchen into a local cafe or street food hut, complete with menu (and prices in the local currency), music and appropriate cutlery and crockery. Start simple with a gingham tablecloth, some croissants and milky chocolat chaud to take you to Paris and progress to making sushi, mastering chopsticks and a more mindful eating experience in Japan. 4. Dance to kid-friendly tunes from around the world Put on some tunes from around the world and have a dance. Luckily for you we’ve got just the playlist to get your family started on their global musical tour. You could also pick a country you want to visit and teach yourselves a dance using a bit of inspiration from YouTube. 5. Try language apps and online quizzes With apps and gaming there are plenty of opportunities to learn while you have fun. Stack the States or Stack the Countries, Flags of the World, Animal Quiz, Duolingo (for language learning), DimDomWorld Map all come recommended and we’ve not even got started on virtual reality. The sky is the limit when it comes to online opportunities to learn about the world, just make sure you spend some time on the device with your kids so you know what they are doing. Bergen in Norway, the inspiration for Arendelle in Frozen © Tatyana Vyc / Shutterstock6. Get the television on While we know we should be avoiding too much screen time for our kids, there’s no denying that children can accumulate a lot of knowledge by watching and playing on screens. Something as simple as family movie night complete with themed snacks, can provide the chance to transport the whole family far away from your home for a couple of hours. Think of Indiana Jones and the Middle East, Frozen and Scandinavia, Ratatouille and Paris, Rio and Rio de Janeiro, to name but a few. Common Sense Media has an extensive list of educational TV shows for kids, but obvious places to start are the Planet Earth or Nature series. With smaller children you can’t go wrong with the British series Go Jetters, where four explorers travel the world learning all about major landmarks. Map puzzles help children see how parts of the world fit together © Camille Tokerud / Getty Images7. Complete a map jigsaw As much as we appreciate the benefits of technology in terms of learning about the world, when it comes to family bonding nothing can beat a digital detox and time spent together on a more "traditional" activity. Working on a jigsaw together can create a strong sense of teamwork. For younger children choose a world map, solar system or even simple animal pairs which gives you a chance to talk about what you see as everything comes together. Older children will relish the challenge of more and smaller pieces, and might enjoy identifying the landmarks at the end in this 1000pc one from Ravensburger. 8. Try your luck with world-themed board games Risk and other games involving world domination are a good way to develop a (slightly skewed) sense of geography in older children. Train enthusiasts will love Ticket to Ride, which comes in all sorts of variations for different parts of the world. You can create your own little vexillologist with Flags of the World, consolidate their knowledge of the US with Scrambled States and make them a super quizzer by focussing on the geography questions with the family edition of Trivial Pursuit. Sustainable travel goals for 2020 Sustainable travel goals for 2020 Make meaningful travel goals for 2020 - from escaping the crowds to travelling by train. 9. Get fancy with some dress up Lastly, if you want to feel really good about your parenting, one of the best analogue games you can play is to dress everyone up as explorers (or Greeks, or wizards, or whatever your dressing-up box or household can find) and go marauding around your home finding objects that show you something about the world. Reconvene and get everyone to tell you what they know about their object, create a story about it, or simply use it as something to research and learn about. This article originally ran on our sister site, Lonely Planet

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