With a global pandemic in full swing and lockdowns continuing worldwide, the idea of an international holiday seems out of the question. For those who desperately need to scratch that travel itch, how will you cope without your annual vacation or the freedom to jet off on an impromptu weekend break whenever you like?
Travelling has all kinds of positive impacts on our lives. It helps us destress from the pressures of work and daily life, offering a much-needed opportunity for relaxation. It allows us to experience new places, people and cultures, enhances our knowledge of the world, and strips us of our unconscious prejudices. You get to try delicious exotic food, bask in glorious landscapes, and make beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you are with your family, friends, a romantic partner or all by yourself, there is no substitute for the empowering nature of travel. Or is there?
For jet-setters stuck at home in lockdown, you have two options. You can sit around and complain about your cancelled holiday, or you could do whatever it takes to try and chase that delicious high that comes from landing in a new country. Although you may not be able to jump on a plane right now, there are ways you can feed that craving and experience the joy of travel from the comfort of your own home.
Here are seven great ways to get your travel fix during lockdown.
Plan a trip
One of the most exciting parts of a new adventure is planning. Sitting at your kitchen table with a cup of tea, pouring over maps and photos of exotic locations. Mapping routes across the country and researching local customs and national dishes. Although you may not be able to start just yet, nothing is stopping you from planning the next trip. You can still enjoy that feeling of excitement and anticipation without leaving your house.
There are several offers on travel for 2021 at the moment. With all the uncertainty, fewer people are booking trips abroad, so travel companies are lowering their prices accordingly. Booking your adventure might be a roll of the dice at the moment, so make you take out suitable insurance if you do end up making firm plans.
To get you started, here is a list of the best travel destinations to visit in 2021.
Take a virtual tour
If your idea of a perfect holiday is a cultural experience, don’t be disheartened by the fact that museums and art galleries remain closed. Hundreds of cultural establishments worldwide are now offering virtual tours that give you the opportunity to get your culture fix from home. More than 2500 businesses worldwide have teamed up with Google to create these virtual experiences. Using the same 360-degree photographic technology as Google StreetView, these businesses are opening their doors to the public online, allowing you to explore exhibitions and take museum tours without setting foot outside your front door.
Are you an art connoisseur? Experience the world’s finest masterpieces in a single day without the hassle of lengthy queues or sore feet. Head to Paris to take in the Mona Lisa at the Louvre before jetting off to Amsterdam to explore the world-famous Rijksmuseum. From there, you can visit London’s National Gallery before finally crossing the Atlantic to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim in New York City. If you prefer a more urban approach to art, why not check out Google Arts Project: Street Art, which showcases some of the most impressive graffiti around the world and the stories behind them.
If science and nature is more your thing, then you won’t be disappointed. Animal lovers can explore San Diego Zoo, where they are live-streaming their cuddly creatures and ferocious beasts. Alternatively, you could check out the impressive marine life at SeaWorld Orlando. And if you’re not content to be confined by the boundaries of Planet Earth, NASA is allowing budding scientists to take a trip to Mars. Explore the red planet from the safety of your living room with a tour of the Martian surface recorded by the Curiosity Rover.
Maybe sport is more up your street. It’s unlikely you’ll get to see the Seahawks vs Patriots game anytime soon, but there are other ways to get your sports fix in the meantime. It’s now possible to take a virtual tour of all the top sports stadiums in the world.
For adrenaline junkies who get bored wandering around museums, there’s a trip for you. Wander around the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, or take a stroll along the full length of the Great Wall of China. And if you have complaining kids in tow, why not top it off with a virtual trip to Disney World?
Go on a culinary journey
Taste is one of the most powerful senses, and no adventure is complete without sampling the local cuisine. You don’t need to visit foreign restaurants to taste international dishes. The Internet is jam-packed with recipes that allow you to cook food from anywhere in the world you choose. Pick a country you want to visit and order a cookbook or Google a recipe for their local dish. All you need to do is buy the ingredients, and you’ll be whipping up a storm in your kitchen in no time. As soon as you take that first bite, you’ll be instantly transported across the globe.
Read travel books
Literature has the power to take us to new worlds and far-flung places. The best books spark the imagination and make us temporarily forget ourselves and where we are. For this reason, travel literature is the perfect way to experience new countries when travel isn’t possible. Settle down in a comfy armchair with a hot drink and a travel book of your choice. Read a classic globe-trotting adventure novel such as Ian Fleming’s James Bond series, or spark your wanderlust with Jack Kerouac’s classic road-trip odyssey On The Road. Renowned travel writers such as Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux or Ranulph Fiennes can take you to wherever you want to go and fulfil your desire for adventure.
If you need inspiration, here is a list of some of the best travel books of all time.
Watch foreign-language films
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of walking the streets of an unfamiliar country and feeling immersed in a new culture. Strange sights and smells, unknown customs and a completely different language to get to grips with. One effective way to experience this cultural immersion at home is to watch films in a foreign language – with the subtitles if you need them, of course! There are so many fantastic films from countries all around the world. It’s impossible to recommend just one. An excellent place to start is the list of films that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Picture.
Have a vacation in your neighbourhood
You don’t need to travel halfway around the world to experience new places and see unfamiliar sights. It’s perfectly possible to have an adventure without leaving your neighbourhood. While non-essential travel may still be forbidden for many, most of us are still able to get out of our homes for exercise. Why not go for a walk down unfamiliar streets and see a completely new side of your town or city? You’ll be surprised at some of the things just beyond your front door that you never knew existed. Explore neighbourhoods you’ve never set foot in, strange new footpaths and trails, stores you’ve never shopped in. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the place you live in and never take it for granted again.
Flick through your travel memories
Who doesn’t love a bit of nostalgia? Why not take a trip down memory lane by looking through your old travel photos. Relive past adventures, marvel at the gorgeous scenery you enjoyed, and laugh at the questionable haircut you sported ten years ago. Dig out those old souvenirs you’ve amassed from holidays past and see if they spark forgotten travel memories that bring you joy.
You no doubt have phones, cameras or laptops full of disorganized travel photos, so why not use the opportunity to organize all of your holiday snaps? Not only will this help you declutter and save space, but it’ll take you on an exciting journey back into the past. You could even print the best photos to make your own travel memory book.
It’s clear that it will be a very long time before we have the complete freedom to travel that we once enjoyed. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still experience and appreciate the world around us. There are numerous ways to experience other places and cultures without leaving our immediate vicinity. You just have to get a little creative about how you do it. Whether you embark on a virtual world tour, read a classic of travel literature, or cook up some of the world’s best-loved dishes, there is always the opportunity to get your travel fix at any time.