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How 8 Travelers Are Recreating the Spring Break They Were Supposed to Have

Many folks have figured out creative ways to create beautiful experiences at home.

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Father and two small kids looking out a window togetherMASKOT/GETTY IMAGES

Spring break at home

Over 100 million Americans planned a family vacation of some type, according to a survey by AAA, and many during spring break. However, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many travelers’ plans this year. Several would-be travelers showed they would not be dissuaded and have made lemonade out of lemons by reconstructing their travel experiences at home. From die-hard cruisers to beach vacation fans, their stories are inspiring and creative. Inspired? Check out these virtual tours you can now take online.

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Mother and two kids having a fancy dinner at homeCOURTESY NICOLE RATNER

Having formal “cruise dinners” at home

Nicole Ratner, who writes for RD.com and her own blog Cruising with the Family, and her family booked a cruise for March 29 out of Baltimore, Maryland. It was canceled due to the novel coronavirus. “We have brought a little of what we love to do on cruise ships home for spring break,” she shares. The family taped up photos of what the views would have looked like from their balcony on their windows at home. They recreated the experience of traditional sit-down dinners with all the courses followed by dance parties. Also, they played their favorite cruise ship games, including Qwirkle, cornhole and Uno. Ratner also left her Roku TV on, as the screensaver displayed images of beaches, islands and ocean views. “It’s fun to bring a little of what we love to our lives even if we can be out on the official ‘seas,'” she explains.

Take a virtual pasta making class online with a real nonna!

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Three girls virtually sharing wineCOURTESY ADRIENNE CLEMENT, BUCKETHALFFULL.COM

Virtual wine tastings to pretend you’re in Napa Valley

Adrienne Clement, who writes for RD.com and Bucket Half Full, had to rethink her travel plans over the next few months, along with the rest of us. To entertain herself during this period of isolation, she started sampling some of her favorite wines from her travels. “Last year, I went on a vacation to Napa Valley for some wine tastings; I’ve picked up some of my favorite California wines and have had wine tastings with some of my friends over video chat,” she says. She and her friends have tried a Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay and a Chardonnay from La Crema. “One of my friends tried the Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon and absolutely loved it,” she adds, noting that at the end of this isolation period, they are each going to bring their favorite Napa wine and have a grand tasting.

Take a virtual landmark tour of the pyramids and more!

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"Rome at Home" surprise anniversary presentCOURTESY JOSHUA LUCAS AND JUSTINA CERRA LUCAS

“Rome at Home” surprise anniversary present

Last year, Justina Lucas and her husband celebrated their first anniversary in Rome, Italy, on April 6. Since they could not travel this year, Lucas created a “Rome at Home” experience for her husband as a surprise for their second anniversary. “I recreated our memories from last year’s trip to Rome,” she says. She transformed her two-bedroom apartment into places they visited in the Eternal City. “Our living room was the cat cafe, the office was an art museum with our wedding memorabilia displayed, and the kitchen became the pasta lab where we made handmade pasta for dinner. He was so surprised!”

Now you can ride the best Disney rides at home.

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Recreating a special dessert using a recipe from your travelsCOURTESY TASHA HOLLAND-KORNEGAY

Recreating a special dessert using a recipe from your travels

When William and Tasha Kornegay serendipitously visited the Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli in Gulfport, Florida, last year, they were instantly smitten with a particular caramel cake. “Our friends took us to this restaurant in a nice little downtown area,” said William. “My wife and I had never tasted a caramel cake before, and we loved the rich layers and moist cake.” The couple was supposed to visit the area again this year for Tasha’s birthday. But when their plans changed because of the coronavirus, they reached out to the owners of Golden Dinosaurs via email and received a near-immediate response. “I’m sorry I won’t be able to make you one this year, but I can definitely help you try to recreate it!” He was able to bake this very ambitious looking cake for his wife’s birthday using the exact recipe the restaurant shared with them. (Sadly, the Golden Dinosaurs declined to share the recipe with us.)

Fill up your free time with these all-day baking projects.

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Recreating that Aruba vibeCOURTESY VANESSA GORDON

Recreating that Aruba vibe

When her annual spring break trip to the islands of Aruba or Antigua with her six-year-old daughter was canceled this year, Vanessa Gordon, a New York-based publisher of East End Taste Magazine, knew just what to do. “We recreated the experience at home, and my daughter actually packed her suitcase complete with swimsuits, even though she knew she wasn’t going,” she explains. The family used their outdoor pool to create a feeling of “going to the beach,” including raking the leaves and pretending it was sand. “We also got ice-cream cones, because in one of the hotels we stay at, they have these particular strawberry Popsicles with sprinkles, and we got the exact same thing at King Kullen, a local store,” so that her little one would feel as though she had a vacation. “Every Wednesday night, we also put some festival music on and pretend we’re at the local Bonbini festival, and we even wear party dresses at dinner,” adds Gordon.

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Throw a pizza party to create Italian vacation vibesCOURTESY OONI.COM

Throw a pizza party to create Italian vacation vibes

“We were scheduled to take our one-year-old daughter to Italy to meet up with my family, who are based in the United Kingdom, including her grandparents,” says Tom Griffiths, who currently lives on the West Coast. “When that got nixed, we did a pizza party with a small portable restaurant oven called Ooni and had Italian wine, and we made some little chef hats too and had it in an outdoor area.” He adds that since quarantine can be so monotonous and you can’t tell one day from the next, “this special occasion made a difference.” Try our best pizza recipes.

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Camping and making s'mores in the drivewayCOURTESY STACY MAXON

Camping and making s’mores in the driveway

“We were going to be traveling from New York to Florida in our RV for spring break,” Stacy Maxon shares, with their ultimate destination being Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Resort. “Unfortunately, that was canceled due to the pandemic, so we made the best of it and had a camp out in our backyard.” The family created a campfire, made s’mores and even played some outdoor games that included catch and a Giant Jenga game. After the cookout dinner, they slept in their RV in the driveway to get a feeling of escapism. “The kids were so excited to “camp” and really enjoyed the change in scenery even though we were only 50 feet away from the house,” she says.

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Recreating a foodie trip to JapanCOURTESY DAN STEEDEN, HOROTRAVELMEMORIES.COM

Recreating a foodie trip to Japan

Dan Steeden, who runs the site Horo Travel Memories, was scheduled to spend two weeks in Japan, from March 21 to April 4 with his girlfriend. “The plan was to travel between Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, taking day trips to Mount Fuji and Hiroshima,” he says. The couple chose the end of March specifically to see the Sakura (cherry blossom). This would have been their first time visiting Japan, the country that has been top of the couple’s bucket lists ever since they met.

One of the main things Steeden was looking forward to about visiting Japan was the food. “We had actually booked a couple of food tours in Tokyo and Osaka and were excited to try authentic Japanese sushi, ramen, yakitori and teriyaki,” he says.

So when travel plans fell through, the couple tried to re-create the flavors of Japan at home by making their own California rolls and ramen. “Our ramens consisted of Asian-spiced chicken stock broths with egg noodles, bok choy, soy eggs, edamame beans and either pork belly or duck,” he says. To round off the travel experience, “On the day that we were meant to be at the Studio Ghibli Museum, a Japanese animation studio I love, we decided to watch a couple of their most celebrated films Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle to try to re-create the experience.” To up your own cultural content, check out these 17 virtual museums and concerts you can now see online.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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