Secure the remote control, not your luggage. The “new” way to travel during pandemic


Photo: Courtesy/Carlota Cano

For me, traveling offers a time to disconnect from my hectic daily routine and allows my mind to focus on the beauty surrounding me. This year, however, the summer was different for most of us.

By Carlota Cano

Although my luggage now collects dust and remains hidden in the depths of my closet, I often think back to the days when I traveled around Spain with my family.  

My parents are originally from Spain, but I was born in Miami. Once a year during the summertime, my parents, younger sister, and I fly to Europe to see the rest of my family and friends and reconnect to our roots. I had my ticket to Madrid booked since December of last year. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my beloved summer plans because of the pandemic. 

When we travel to Spain, my family and I often enjoy a variety of Mediterranean dishes and tapas. Simply picturing the plates of jamón, croquetas, and gazpacho brings back happy memories of the country and the warm weather. I look forward to exploring cities with architectural styles different from the U.S. For me, traveling offers a time to disconnect from my hectic daily routine and allows my mind to focus on the beauty surrounding me. 

According to Forbes, going on vacation can help boost your mood and overall satisfaction. Renowned chef and travel documentarian, Anthony Bourdain, even said: “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind however small. And in return, life—and travel leave marks on you.” If you are not convinced traveling makes life better, listen to the wise words of Bourdain.

This year, however, the summer was different for most of us. In my case, there were no tapas nor jamón. Instead, there were multiple bags of popcorn, accompanied by a variety of Netflix shows about travel. 

I figured that if I could not travel physically, I could travel vicariously by watching entertaining shows from the comfort of my own couch. Some of my personal favorites include Chef’s Table, Taco Chronicles, and The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes. These shows highlight a mix of culinary and architectural features from countries like India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and New Zealand.

Chef’s Table consists of six seasons of innovative culinary dishes from the most talented chefs in the world. Their work not only makes my stomach rumble, but is presented in such a way that looks too pretty to eat. The widely popular show, Taco Chronicles, provides an inside look at the history behind Mexico’s most popular tacos. My favorite episodes so far are about cochinita and pastor tacos. Cochinita tacos are made from pork shoulder marinated in a citrus sauce with achiote; pastor tacos are made from roasted pork and are marinated with achiote and guajillo chiles as well. 

One of my favorite Netflix shows ever, The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, takes you through some of the world’s most luxurious and private homes across the world. Some houses are designed specifically to resist extreme weather conditions, like the earthquakes in New Zealand, high temperatures in Israel, and monsoon season in India. Honestly, the entire time I spent watching this whole show, I thought to myself, “Why was I not cast to travel and spend the day visiting these incredible homes?”  

These intrepid shows exposed me to cultures and ideas I wouldn’t otherwise have known about. Although I miss the excitement that comes with planning a trip and packing for a new adventure, I know there will be a time when it will be safer to do so. Until then, I am mentally preparing my future travel plans now that I have so many new places I would like to visit. I am keeping my remote control close and am open to new suggestions, so I can keep adding to my travel list.

Physical travel may have been put on pause for now, but my mind still wanders freely as I deliberate where my next adventure abroad will take me.

Carlota Cano is a senior studying communication studies. If you would like to respond to this thought piece in the form of a letter to the editor, email [email protected]. Letters may be edited for style and clarity.