Take a trip to... your own bathroom.

By Alisha Prakash
April 08, 2020

There are two types of self-quarantines: Those that are unproductive, complete with nonstop Netflix and TikTok videos (guilty!), and those that are filled with more fruitful endeavors.

Jennifer Baer, a graphic designer at NASA’s Ames Research Center, falls squarely in the latter camp. The California-based artist illustrated a series of vintage-inspired travel posters with a twist: Unlike the advertisements of yore, her parodied prints promote a different, more apt, kind of adventure — staying home.

Issued by the Coronavirus Tourism Bureau, the tongue-in-cheek designs were born out of Baer’s frustration with seeing friends on social media ignoring the stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements. Rather than resorting to anger, however, she opted for humor.

“I woke up one morning cackling to myself at the idea of creating glamorous travel posters promoting going nowhere,” Baer told Travel + Leisure. This early-morning epiphany went viral overnight, with her tweet being liked over 73,000 times, including by best-selling author J.K. Rowling. Since then, her prints have become a comical, but effective, way to communicate an important message: "Stay the F* Home" — as each one states.

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Baer

“I needed [friends and family] to heed the messaging to [stay indoors]. I knew they wouldn’t readily share a poster with a typographical solution stating, 'Stay the F* Home,' but if I gave them something beautiful to ponder and tucked in the message, I felt pretty confident there was potential for people to share these.”

A nostalgic nod to the dreamy, wanderlust-inducing travel posters of the past, Baer’s fliers adapt to the new reality, touting witty slogans like “Surf Your Couch,” "Visit Your One Houseplant," and “Take a Trip to Your Own Bathroom” alongside illustrations of houseplants, TV remotes, and of course, toilet paper.

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Baer

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“I really wanted the posters to be absurd and answer to my own overly critical sense of humor,” she said. “We need to laugh at ourselves. We need to examine our commitment to each other as humans. We need to honor our communities and the value they have in holding us up when we work together. And we need to stay sane and rational and hopefully a little whimsical in order to process the entirety of this pandemic.”

But travel has always been a big part of Baer’s life, too: Her entire family worked in the airline industry, and she even grew up flying standby on United Airlines. “I have fond memories of ordering unlimited Shirley Temples, the fizzy bubbles weighted down in heavy cocktail glasses sitting atop crisp white tray table linens,” she said. “On our best flights, we were allowed to climb the spiral staircase up to the second-level 747 lounge… It was a different era and I’ll always romanticize that style of travel. I like pretty much every style of travel, but I miss the glamour of 1970s travel the most. I miss walking down the jetway and spotting those now-vintage travel posters.”

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Baer

Some of her favorite travel memories include family vacations to Germany and Switzerland, though these days, she’s racked up some equally amazing trips, like hiking solo through the Dolomites and camping far off in the Hawaiian valleys. “I am quite impulsive where travel is concerned. We never know when it will be taken away,” she said. Of course, Baer has had to table her passion for spontaneously getting out into the world, like so many other jet-setters. “Lately, I find myself watching some home videos of previous trips and crying. I cry both at the beauty and great luxury to have been able to explore and create new memories, and also at the mundanity of staying in one place and the uncertainty of future travel.”

But this pandemic won’t deter Baer from hitting the road in the future.

As for the first place she’ll go once this all behind us, Baer said, “It continues to change week by week. I think first I’ll make good on a canceled trip I had scheduled for next month. I was looking forward to spending time on Vancouver Island. But once I cross that trip off my list, I want to go somewhere like the Olympics and celebrate with all of humanity in one giant party with unlimited Shirley Temples.”

And when that happens, she adds, “‘See the World,’ my poster would say.”

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Baer

To buy: society6.com, from $14