These are strange days, especially for Americans living in Europe. After all, one of the benefits of being here is that travel is so easy. So many world-famous cultures, countries, cities, and landmarks are so reachable.
And even when travel is confined to Germany, life is still good. This is a big country. It has mountains, lakes, wilderness, rivers, seas, cities and an endless supply of cute villages. The potential for long vacations and great day trips (naturally) is nearly limitless.
In the COVID era, however, sometimes even the smallest travel windows become closed. When that happens, we’re left at home wondering what, exactly, we can do to feel like our old explorer selves.
Fear not! As wise people the world over have said since time immemorial: this, too, shall pass. In the meantime, consider a Quarantine day trip (or Q-trip). What’s that mean? Let’s find out!
Q-Trips: day trips like no other
A quick caveat: the word “Quarantine” here connotes, “I am perfectly healthy, but can’t really travel anywhere too far away because restrictions won’t allow it.” If you are in actual quarantine, make sure to follow every associated rule.
And now, on to Q-trips! With a little imagination, you can have an excellent day trip without ever getting in your car. Here are 5 ideas that, when combined, can easily fill a day with a sense of purpose and exploration.
1. Prepare virtually for a physical future.
Staying at home can be brilliant when you connect your present to the future. Take virtual tours of nearby cities and museums. Check out histories of Germany and other European countries from your local libraries. Read travel guides. In short, do your homework so that when the gates open again, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge about the places you want to visit. Doing so creates incredibly rich travel experiences.
2. Brush up your German language skills.
Even a very limited knowledge of German will make your time here so much better. Download a free language app. Practice phrases. Learn nouns. Pull in family members or friends to join you. Do it every day, for 10 minutes a day. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn in a short time. And, when you can travel again, you’ll be delighted at how joyful it feels to have a grammatically questionable conversation with a local. Seriously.
3. German neighborhood A-Z scavenger hunt.
This is another way to learn and have fun at the same time. Grab a dictionary (or a translation app) and a notebook. Go outside, start observing, and start writing down German nouns. For example, “A” is for Apfel (apple), B is for “Baum” (tree), and so on. First one to find 24 out of 26 letters wins! Why 24? Because finding anything that starts with an “X” or a “Y” in German is almost impossible. But kudos to you if you swing it!
4. Find a forest.
Then enter it. Walk until you are weary and your soul is satisfied. Don’t worry too much about finding a forest. They’re nearly everywhere in Germany. Odds are that there is one attached to your city or village. Visit it frequently. Marvel at how much it changes from one season to the next, and how much you come to love visiting it.
5. Make a gratitude list for every place you’ve ever traveled.
After you’ve come inside and refreshed yourself with a nice bottle of Quellwasser (feel free to use that one for your scavenger hunt), gather with your loved ones for a quick trip down memory lane. It’s astonishing how frequently we forget all the cool places to which we’ve traveled. So create a gratitude list, in which you write down your favorite places – large and small – and at least one thing you loved about those places. Put the list somewhere prominent. Look at it often. In so doing, you will be reminded that you have an explorer’s heart, no matter what the current circumstances might dictate. Soon enough, you’ll be out there again.