Sometimes you just have to fake it, right?

Sort of. But since we’re living in a world where a vacation can literally put you and your community at risk, the adage definitely applies.

The reality is, it’s still not safe to travel internationally. The reopening of come countries isn’t science-driven (in fact, Beijing recently closed again), it’s economy-driven. Even within the United States, from state to state and county to county, reopening rules and regulations are murky at best. Combine all that with the fact that travel is how the pandemic got fast-tracked in the first place and… we have to pause.

The best way to keep yourself, your family, and your community on a positive track is to stay put at least a little while longer. Trust us — we get how frustrating it sounds. So we want to help you make the best of it.

Meet the “fakecation” — a mock vacation you can take in your very own living room, sans jet lag. Make it however fancy or ridiculous you need it to be. If it distracts you, it’s a win.

Raise your hand if changing up your takeout rotation to get your international fix just hasn’t quite hit the spot. For will-travel-for-food foodies, some of the best memories come from discovering a warm meal at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or after a well-worth-it hour-long wait.

Fortunately, there are many online classes that bring the joy of international kitchens into your very own. Learn from and interact with people around the world, hear their stories, and — most importantly — eat.

Start with Airbnb Experiences. Since we’re not traveling right now, Airbnb has shifted its Experiences program online. Make tamales with a chef in Mexico, slather a homemade crepe with hazelnut spread with someone in France, or transport yourself to Chiang Mai through cooking traditional nam prik ong. The best part? Most of these experiences are under $30.

Bonus: If you didn’t Instagram your meal, did it even happen? Once your dish is perfectly plated, set it up by a window to snap a pic in natural light — the best for food photos.

While of course we’d rather be at the Louvre or the Uffizi in person (or anywhere in Europe, for that matter), many of the world’s finest houses of culture have taken their collections online for virtual experiences.

You can start with The Broad in LA before scooting cross-country to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Head down south to Savannah to check out virtual gallery tours from the Savannah African Art Museum. From there, hop a digital jet across the pond to the U.K. to drink in the halls of London’s British Museum.

Where to next? Maybe you venture through the Chunnel to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, or perhaps you pull a fast one and go the distance to Taiwan to visit the National Palace Museum in Taipei. You can even head Down Under to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

Think your Instagram feed will be utterly vacationless this summer? Think again. While we’re not actually packing our bags, we sure as hell can pretend we are.

What you’ll need:

  • A festive backdrop: A tropical-print sheet, for example, is a great way to set the scene. You can also use a plain white sheet and a projector to blow up a favorite travel scene. Think Zoom backgrounds, but make it art.
  • Wardrobe: Bust out your best summer outfits. Accessorize. Think about what you’d pack to wear on a beach trip to Mexico or for a summer stroll along the Seine.
  • Props: Have fun with it. Make a tropical drink in a coconut. Lounge on an oversized pool floaty. Or, hey, what about that great international dish you learned how to make earlier? Set up a cafe scene to enjoy your fresh Parisian crepe.

Level up: Pack a suitcase and do an IG story of you “checking in” at your apartment or house. Give us a mini tour of the space. What “amenities” are offered? Unleash your inner influencer. We’re living in a time when dark humor reigns, so don’t be afraid to get painfully obvious with your attempts to stage a fakecation. We all could use the laugh right now.

You probably know better than to wear costumes or culturally appropriate, so this advice is more about what to say if someone suggests something off-color. Just say, “Hey, I’m not comfortable with that setup. How about we ditch it or try something else?” Or opt not to appear in the photo at all. Pictures might be fun, but screenshots are forever.

Make a blissed-out playlist, grab your sunnies, and head to the sugary shores of your favorite beaches around the world.

Start in Florida with this 360-degree stroll along South Beach. Bust out the blender to whip up some frosty margaritas, or order a cocktail from one of the many spots that promise delivery booze in under an hour. Or you can take that dream trip to the Maldives, leaving the hefty price tag behind, with this virtual experience that takes you on a scenic tour around the Amilla Fushi resort.

If your Japan travel plans to see the Olympics were temporarily paused, this VR movie from the Japan National Tourism Organization gives a 360-degree view across the country, from a live feed of Shibuya Crossing to a stroll through the mystic bamboo forests. You can even try your hand at sushi making.

If you’d rather stay domestic, Google Earth now has 3D tours of 31 of the U.S. National Parks. It may not be exactly like the real thing, but at least you can start planning your next big road trip.

If checking in is your preferred way to check out, why not really commit to your fakecation and turn your home into a mini hotel? There are so many ways to transport your experience straight to five-star service.

Dress the part by slipping into your very own hotel robe. You can find hotel robes at a variety of price points, but we love this Rocky Robe from the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. Bonus: It’s on sale.

After you “robe up,” it’s time to peruse that minibar. Create a DIY minibar with tiny bottles of booze and your favorite snacks. If you’re not drinking a tiny bottle of prosecco while wearing a plush robe, are you even on vacation? Plus, this is a great way to send your dollars to your local bodega.

Transform your bathroom into a luxe spa escape with your own amenity set. We’re fans of Napa’s Auberge du Soleil indulgent bath products, like their Chamomile & Lavender Bath Salts or Grapeseed Crush Body Scrub.

When it’s time to turn in, give yourself the ultimate turn-down. These sheets from Kassatex are a real steal and part of their hotel collection.

It’s a small world after all… until you’re closed off from it. Disneyland and Disney World remain closed. But fear not, Disney lovers. Thanks to one creative Instagrammer, it’s totally possible to bring the magic of Disney to you.

Jess Siswick (@siswij) went viral back in March when she re-created a Disney trip that got canceled due to COVID-19. With a little bit of pixie dust, her Amazon Echo Dot became a Magic Band reader, her rolling desk chair became a seat on the Mad Tea Party ride, and a soccer ball became the iconic Spaceship Earth at Epcot.

Disneyphiles can search for #HomeMadeDisney on Instagram to find other ideas for creating a Disney fakecation.

We know, we know — nothing replaces the thrill of actual travel. But we don’t yet know when travel will get the thumbs-up. Every country is different with respect to what travel will look like, who will be allowed in, and what will happen once you return home. Safety and preventing another outbreak are imperative right now.

If you must travel, as some of us may have to do for work, remember to maintain all the health and safety measures we’ve been practicing for months. Those masks really do save lives. Keep physical distancing.

On a positive note: It’s awesome news that places are reopening. It is definitely the hopeful sign we all needed. But getting over the hump only works if we’re all in this together. So for now, kick back, relax, and start faking it.

Meagan Drillinger is a freelance travel writer who lives a life in two worlds: One is in New York City. The other is out of a suitcase. For her, there is no greater gift than the ability to inspire others to get on a plane and go. Visit her blog or Instagram.