A woman in a black overcoat standing outside in a winter season

Remember the beginning of 2020? It was a simpler time. We were busy planning our next escapes, creating Pinterest boards for our dream destinations and calculating our future PTO.

Flights were booked. Suitcases were packed. Then, it all came to a screeching halt. 

It’s now been over a year since my husband and I have visited our family in the Dominican Republic. While we desperately wanted to be there for the holidays, when COVID-19 cases began surging again, we knew flying internationally wasn’t safe. As someone who thrives off the anticipation of an upcoming trip, this year has been a series of disappointments, but this year has also recontextualized the meaning of joy.

This year has been a series of disappointments, but this year has also recontextualized the meaning of joy.

Money can’t buy happiness, and the same goes for anything that’s extrinsic in nature: jobs, awards, internet fame or airline miles. As cliché as it is, happiness comes from within, and it’s up to us to decide our outlook on life. Regardless of what’s on our calendars, we can always seek joy.

Here are some ways you can make the most of these idle moments:

Take Time Off

No excursions in sight? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break. It can be tempting to save your vacation time for a week that doesn’t involve your couch and sweatpants, but let’s face it—no one knows when we’ll be traveling again. Set up your automated OOO email and forget about responsibilities for a while. After a year like 2020, you deserve it. 

Bring the Destination to You 

What was on your original itinerary? Wine tasting? A spa treatment? Although it won’t be exactly the same, with some creativity, you can recreate those plans in the comfort of your home. Had tickets to explore a new city or country? Celebrate the culture with food, music and a movie based in that location.

Forget about being bored. You’ll be creating lasting memories instead.

Make Future Plans

Someday, we’ll be able to dust off our passports and be tourists again. Until that time comes, all we can do now is dream and make plans, even if the future is foggy. If you’ve postponed your trip for a later date, then take this as an opportunity to further investigate hidden gems and must-see spots in that area.

Make a list of the top-rated restaurants, museums and local attractions so that you can have the experience of a lifetime. If postponing wasn’t an option, think about your bucket list. Have you always wanted to bungee jump? Scuba dive? Swim with pigs in the Bahamas? Research how to make it happen, and tell yourself that it’s not a matter of if but when. 

Be Present

No road trips or planes to catch could actually be a blessing in disguise. While traveling is always an adventure, the pressure to see and do it all can also be exhausting. During this break, make an effort to be truly present in the moment you’re in.

Give your full attention to the people you’re surrounded by. Focus on what you’re grateful for, not just what you wish for. Spend some quality time with yourself. Because as they say, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Did you have any travel plans that were canceled in 2020? How can you get creative to still have fun this holiday season?

Image via Navarro Aydemir, Darling Issue No. 17

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