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The Art of Armchair Travel

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

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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

Monet at the National Gallery

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!

I Amsterdam Sign Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Tour Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum on a free mobile phone app. Virtually visit The Vatican or take a turn around London’s National Gallery.

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…

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.

Try out a UK Amazon Prime 30-day free trial or US Amazon Prime 30-day free trial.

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

The Coastguard Cottages at Seven Sisters, East Sussex

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 be returning to places I love too. There’ll be hikes at Seven Sisters, one of my favourite Sussex spots and my favourite coffee shops in Hastings Old Town. Find out more about things to do in Sussex on my sister site Hello Sussex.

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.

Alta Acqua bookshop Venice

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
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.

gallery photo wall

Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash

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.

online learning

Travel Podcasts

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.

Get travel-ready

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.

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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Stuart Forsterr

Friday 17th of April 2020

I prefer the real thing but in a world where we can't travel we have to dream. Good post!

Suzanne Jones

Saturday 18th of April 2020

I'm enjoying virtual travel at the moment, hope you are too!


Friday 10th of April 2020

I’ve seen virtual tours from national parks in the States, but didn’t know that museums and galleries had started doing them too. This is so perfect and I love that it’s totally affordable too hahaa. Love the travelling through taste idea as well. Speaking of, now I’m totally craving some Vietnamese dishes!

Suzanne Jones

Friday 10th of April 2020

There's so much virtual escapism going on atm. The National Theatre are recording their performances too. The world's at our fingertips!

Eric Gamble

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

Love all of these options for Armchair Travel! I personally have been trying to get back to my Reading Bucket List and have dove into Roald Dahl's The Boy & Going Solo...but there are so many great books out there. As for the tech side, I do love all the different virtual ways to discover new areas. I had no idea about the Vatican one...that is amazeballs!

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

I've been reading more lately as well. Virtual museum tours are a brilliant idea. I've already got a virtual bucket list!

Emma Riggs

Monday 6th of April 2020

What a brilliant idea Museum Virtual Tours are. I'd honestly never heard of them until just the other day. We're indulging in a bit of 'Camp Chair' travel at the moment, since we're RVers. The silver lining is that it's the perfect time to plan our next trips with great detail. Or build the biggest Bucket Lists known to mankind!

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

Being a blogger means I've always got something to keep me busy but I've made time to indulge in a bit of armchair travel too! Are you still able to move around in your RV at the moment? Happy planning!

Linda (LD Holland)

Sunday 5th of April 2020

We are constantly looking for ways to look for new travel spots. I love that so many places are now offering virtual tours. A good way to make you want to visit and see more. We have found quite a few live webcams too. We are putting the time to good use doing more detailed planning about spots we want to visit in the future. A good time for research. Taste is a great way for us to remember past travels. Certainly foods or drinks immediately bring those trips back to mind. We keep saying we will work on a new language. This would be the perfect opportunity to stick to it. Thanks for some suggestions on filling our time with travel thoughts.

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

Travel planning is a great way to make use of the extra time we have right now and the virtual tours a good way to see if a destination is right for you. I keep saying I'll learn a language too and have started a very basic on-line course.

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