Travel’s off the agenda for the foreseeable. Check out my guide to armchair travel for ways to get your travel fix without leaving the house…
View of Porto, Portugal
Our world’s had a bit of a shakeup. I hope you, your family and loved ones are well. We’ve been staying home. That’s me and Mr Jones for those who don’t know. We’ve adapted our everyday lives and bit by bit we’re adjusting to this different way of life. I hope you are too.
The Art of Armchair Travel
Travel is something that’s off the agenda for the foreseeable future but it’ll always be my passion. I’ve been looking for ways that I can indulge in a little escapism when I can’t venture further than the garden gate? From books, travel films and documentaries to food, courses and virtual museums and galleries here’s how to indulge your wanderlust from your armchair.
Tourist attractions, destinations and on-line learning portals have come to the rescue with some fabulous offers from free on-line learning, reduced subscriptions, virtual museum and gallery tours. Here are some ideas to help you explore the world without leaving the house. Never before has armchair travel been so appealing!
Virtual Museum and Gallery Tours
A Monet at The National Gallery, London
We might not be able to physically travel right now but there’s a world of virtual wanderlust at our fingertips. Some of the world’s greatest museums, historical sights and national parks are offering free online tours. Call it culture from your couch!
The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
If the great outdoors is more your thing then Google Arts and Culture is the place to head. You’ll get to virtually explore some glorious national parks around the world. My first stop will be Yosemite National Park. Where will yours be?
Yosemite National Park
You could also check out my YouTube channel for video inspiration too. Feel free to subscribe… The fab new ”They Stay at Home” website by Jen Lowthrop is an excellent resource with loads of ideas for keeping busy during lockdown.
TV and streaming
The good old telebox always hits the spot when it comes to armchair travel. Now that we’re digital there are so many ways to indulge in TV or screen travel.
I’ve been watching, and loving, BBC2’s Race Around the World (Amazing Race in the US) and I love the Great Railway Journey series with Michael Portillo. If you have Sky there’s the Travel Channel with a whole raft of top travel shows to whet your wanderlust.
Amazon Prime has countless travel movies and TV series for streaming. Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Unknown Parts’ is a favourite along with ‘Travel Man’ and any wildlife documentaries. We watched ‘Schindler’s List’ after our Krakow trip but if you want to keep it upbeat there’s ‘Mama Mia’ or ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ and dozens more great travel films to choose from.
Netflix is another streaming channel which offers a 7-day free trial. If you sign up for both Netflix and Prime free trials that’s over five weeks of free viewing to take advantage of without paying a penny.
Create a Backyard Bucket List
Travel planning is the perfect form of escapism. Sure, there are faraway places I want to see when we get through all this but being on lockdown has made me realise more than ever how important it is to explore my own backyard too.
Our local attractions and small businesses will need our support more than ever when this is over so I’m compiling a backyard bucket list. It’ll include a visits to Batemans and Great Dixter and a meal at The Curlew, a restaurant I’ve wanted to visit for a while but never got round to.
I’ll also be sure to make an effort to patronise the businesses that went all out to help those that needed it most during the crisis and who offered help to the vulnerable and NHS staff.
Travel through Instagram
For bitesize travel inspiration it’s good to dip into Instagram now and then but be warned it can be addictive. Big accounts like Lonely Planet and National Geographic have some stunning travel photography. My account’s not bad either… ! For some light relief take a look at the @AfarMedia #travelathomechallenge where people are re-creating travel in their homes and gardens.
Travel through taste
This one isn’t strictly armchair travel. You’ll have to venture as far as the kitchen or, if you’re lucky, the garden to recreate the flavours of your travels. I planted some seeds last weekend; chilli, mint, basil, coriander and tomatoes amongst others. They’re doing well. The flavours will remind me of past travels. Watering them each day and watching them grow is therapeutic.
I’ll be drinking peppermint tea which will remind me of my travels to Morocco. Basil and tomatoes will be added to buffalo mozzarella for a taste of Italy. The chilli and coriander will remind me of the fresh, zingy flavours of Vietnam. You don’t need much room for herbs – space on a sunny windowsill or a windowbox will be fine.
Travel books and magazines
If there’s one thing I love almost as much as travelling it’s getting lost in a good book. Fiction goes hand in hand with travel and for most destinations there’s a great novel just waiting to transport you straight there.
Choose a book set in a destination you’ve visited and immerse yourself. It’ll be more real as you’ll already have seen the landscapes, towns and people for yourself. It’s one of my favourite ways to indulge in a bit of armchair travel.
Travel inspiration books and guides can also transport you to a myriad of different places and they’re perfect for inspiring future travels. If there are glossy pages of gorgeous travel photography then even better.
Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist is packed with 500 of the world’s most unmissable sights and attractions paired with beautiful photography. This would also make a fabulous gift for any travel lover as would 101 Weekends in Europe by Robin Barton which will give you enough European weekend travel inspiration to last a decade or two.
Some more great travel reads…
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo
The Atlas of Happiness: the global secrets of how to be happy by Helen Russell
Audible is an audio book service which has a range of free stories available which can be streamed from a laptop or smartphone. Transport yourself to a faraway place while you’re gardening, cleaning or just relaxing. Audible are giving away hundreds of kids’ books during the school closures.
Don’t forget to sign up to your local library. Many offer on-line access to free audio books and e-magazines
Culture Yard Library, Elsinore, Denmark
Travel photography projects
I’ll be using some of this down time to go through my travel photos and finally get them sorted and all saved to the cloud. I have over 7,000 – there’ll be a lot of deletions!
Some images will be printed off to hang at home, I’ve been meaning to create a photo wall. Maybe now’s the time. I may make some photo books too. Getting lost in the memories and magical moments will pass the time nicely.
Learn travel related skills
Expand your horizons with new travel related skills. There are lots of free on-line courses on offer at the moment and with extra time on your hands there’s no better time to take advantage. I’m brushing up on my photography skills with a free course but there are on-line cooking classes, language and writing courses. You could delve into coding or technical skills – the possibilities are endless.
Skillshare is offering is offering a premium 2-month free trial and has a wide range of available courses from languages to design and computer tech.
There are so many travel podcasts out there which you can download and listen to at your leisure. Some of my favourites are…
The Travel Diaries with Holly Rubenstein is the UK’s number one travel podcast. It’s the travel version of Desert Island Discs where celebrities share travel experiences that made an impact on their lives. They describe travel experiences that shaped them rather than songs.
Armchair Explorer is hosted by award-winning travel writer Aaron Millar. Epic adventurers tell their best story from the road. Every episode is cut documentary style and set to music with cinematic effects to create an immersive storytelling experience.
Armchair travel is all very well but I’m not suggesting you spend 16 hours a day on your backside. Be sure to get up and move around too because when all this is over you’ll want to be fit and ready to get out there and explore as soon as. To stay fit in the meantime channel some of your energy into exercise.
There are loads of free on-line classes to help you stay in shape or even shape up. Fitness coach Joe Wicks’s YouTube channel The Body Coach TV has various sessions to try out for different levels of fitness. Yoga With Adriene is another YouTube channel with free yoga videos for all levels. The 30-day challenge is a good place to start if you’ve not practised yoga before and helps calm the mind too.
Still looking for more ways to escape? Ferne Arfin from The View from Chelsea has some good ideas in her post Escape the COVID-19 lockdown blues.
I hope my armchair travel post has given you some ideas for a bit of escapism. If you’ve got any ideas to add drop a comment below. Stay well, stay home and look after each other.
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