by Tristan Evarts, Librarian at the Mitchell Branch
“To travel is to set the soul free”
While travel is still off the table for many, there’s an easy way to see the world from the comfort of a cozy armchair. While the art of armchair travel may not fully replace the wonder of strolling down the French Riviera at sunset or climbing up into the Bavarian Alps in fall, it can be a good temporary reprieve for those of us who have the longing to travel. So how does one go about indulging in the art of a good fireside chair expedition? Here are a few hints.
1) Setting the Scene
The most important part of this is choosing where you want to go. Select a destination, be specific. If you happen to be like me then there’s a hundred places you might like to go to, but there’s time. You can visit a different place each night if you want to. Choose a country, a city, an UNESO World Heritage Site, as you wish. Find a few travel guides with good images. You can pick up travel books at the nearest library for those who want a physical item to look at. For the digitally inclined, I recommend Freading (which can be found at the NHFPL website under electronic resources, ebooks, movies and more). It has an amazing selection of travel books from Lonely Planet, Fodor, and other notables. Put a few of these pictures on a table in front of you.
2) Set the Mood
Armchair travel is a meditation. It’s creating a specific moment in time to lose yourself in. Enhance your experience with small details by cooking up a local delicacy. The New Haven Free Public Library has cookbooks from cultures around the world and all at different skill levels. Or consider logging on to Hoopla and looking over the musical selections there. Add a digeridoo soundtrack while gazing at images of Uluru under the night sky or a bit of Afro-Cuban jazz as you visit Havana. Free music and more books available with your NHFPL card each month!
3) Bring it to life
The last step is the simplest and the most fun. Now that you’ve set the scene, added details close your eyes and breathe deeply. Imagine that you’ve left the confines of the room and you’re enjoying a moment, sitting outside an English castle or walking down the beach at some tropical getaway. Relax and let the image come to life.
There’s more you can do to engage in armchair travels. Many museums now have virtual tours, there are travel podcasts and documentaries you can also find. In your local library you can probably find coffee table books with better, higher-quality images and stories set in the worlds you want to disappear into. One day we’ll be back to spelunking through Parisian catacombs or going on Lord of the Rings tours in New Zealand, but until then, we can make do with small things. A good book, a good meal, and thoughts of the wonderful adventures that awaits us.
If you are looking for specific materials for your next trip, or just curious about another country or culture and would like help finding information, feel free to give any of our locations a call and we would be thrilled to help you on your adventure.