For those of us that love travel, there’s no doubt that the current circumstances leave an ache in the heart. When you have incurable wanderlust it’s time to get a little creative – let’s explore how to travel without leaving your sofa.
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Even the most seasoned traveller would struggle to see all of best culture and art that the world can offer. To visit the seven wonders of the world and more. To traverse every national park and see every historic monument. But with the aid of live streams you can visit them all in one day!
Many museums and galleries around the world have introduced virtual tours, meaning that you can see some of the world’s most famous pieces from your own living room. In one morning you can head from the Uffizi in Florence to the Musee D’Orsay in Paris, and then to the British Museum in London and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. If street art is more your thing, let the Google Art Project take you to the streets of Buenos Aires, Bogota and Bratislava.
Or you can watch a classic opera from the Royal Opera House and then a West End or Broadway show – check out What’s On Stage for the latest online listings. Sky Arts is also great for theatre, music documentaries, gigs and ballet – we recently watched the beautiful Matthew Bourne production of Swan Lake.
Had enough of art and culture? Do you just want to see some baby goats going about their day? Or see what happens when you let a bunch of penguins loose in an aquarium? Then live zoo streams are guaranteed to keep you entertained.
If wildlife rehabilitation is more your bag, log onto Wildlife Aid to watch rescued fox and badger cubs being cared for until they are ready for release.
Fancy something a little more, well, exotic? How about watching elephants and other animals at a watering hole in Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa? Or rescued manatees peacefully floating around at Blue Spring State Park in Florida?
Are your travels packed with “sight-doing” rather than “sightseeing”? Do your prefer hands-on activities and participation? Then bring the experiences to your own living room.
Imagine you’re in Cuba and learn some sassy Salsa dance moves. Whip up a tapas feast from Valencia. Test your paper-folding skills with an origami tutorial or two – I like this cute elephant one best.
Crack open the black stuff and do a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. How about wine-tasting from home, whilst dreaming of an Italian vineyard? Or learn how to make a signature cocktail from Birmingham’s very own Night Owl club (yes, my experiences lean heavily on the “drink alcohol side”).
With our Japan trip a no-go, I feel that Lost In Translation is going to be high on my watch list. But how about a trip around the world via the magic of celluloid? We can start in France with Amelie, and then hop next door to Belgium with In Bruges. Travel to southern Europe for a Roman Holiday, and then even further south, beyond the Mediterranean and Out of Africa. From Africa, travel west to the USA with The Hangover or Thelma & Louise. Or travel east, with Slumdog Millionaire in India, The Beach in Thailand or this year’s Oscar-winning Parasite, set in South Korea.
For travel inspiration, pop on the telly-box. There are a plethora of travel programmes available on your favourite streaming service. Many of which largely appear to feature comedians and members of their family having hilarious adventures abroad. I’m looking at you Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father. For a less light-hearted look at the globe, check out Dark Tourist for vampires, hitmen and haunted forests. If you have a hankering to cycle across 22 countries, let Felix take the strain in Pedal The World.
If your travels tend to be food-centric, check out Street Food: Asia for mouthwatering dishes from Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia and Vietman among others. Or Somebody Feed Phil for more travel food, conversation and interesting tidbits of information. Prior to our postponed Japan trip, Mr Fletche and I enjoyed James May: Our Man In Japan. Especially the J-Pop makeover and his unhelpful robot guide in Kyoto.
Now’s the time to reach for those books that you’ve been meaning to read but never got round to. Whether they are inspiring true life stories, travel guides or fiction set in beautiful locations, go ahead and curl up with a cuppa and a good book.
Immerse yourself in a book about a familiar destination, or something with beautiful images or descriptions to inspire. One of my favourite books which transports me to another place is The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, with its wonderful evocative descriptions of gothic Barcelona. And for an inspiring read about a long-distance hike, how about Wild by Cheryl Strayed?
I have a monthly subscription to Nat Geo Traveller which is another great way to inspire travel – I have quite the pile to get through!
Dig out that dusty recipe book from the cupboard and see what you can cook with whatever’s left in your cupboard. For new inspiration, order a cookbook or two specialising in food from your favourite country and bring the flavours of your travels to your kitchen. How about Vietnamese? Or Peruvian?
If you can, use this opportunity to create a garden of flavours that will remind you of your travels. Plant chillies or fresh mint, basil or coriander. A window box will do if you don’t have a garden!
While you’re at it, maybe now’s the time to break open all those odd bottles of local liquor that you brought back as souvenirs. The sickly sweet shots that you threw back at every bar. The throat-burning firewater that you willingly accepted as a digestif. Mix them all up as a global cocktail. But please, remember to drink responsibly.
Now’s the time to create a Pinterest Board of all those places that you’d love to go, or to use a site like Flipboard to keep a track of useful websites. You can head to my Pinterest Travel Inspiration board here
Plan an itinerary, plan your wardrobe and use some of the other tips here to make a virtual visit – you’ll be glad of your thorough preparation when you finally are able to book that trip! You can find some of my most useful travel planning tips here and here!
Flick through travel magazines and maybe purchase a guide book or two. And of course, search for travel blogs from your favourite travel bloggers. Like this one.
I’ve always loved to do a virtual trek around a neighbourhood on Street View before a trip. It’s particularly handy when finding accommodation on foot when you can look out for handy landmarks. Just pick up your little Google bod and pop it where you want to go!
And it’s not just cities. Google Earth has virtual tours of some of the most beautiful National Parks and iconic landmarks. I’ve already hiked the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon this morning (and got further than I did the first time around!). Taking a digital hike means no training, no heavy backpacks and no blisters!
Google Earth allows you to explore so much more, and with the inevitable education that comes with the search engine. Click on Editors Picks to be randomly transported across the globe.
You can read more about our overnight stay at The Grand Canyon here
Music is one of the best ways to evoke travel memories so open up your music streaming service of choice and take an aural trip. Maybe it’s a chilled out playlist that will remind you of evenings watching a beautiful sunset. The europop record playing in every beach bar that annoyingly stuck in your head. The karaoke song you wheel out when you have an audience of strangers. Or from steel bands to salsa, find the music of a favourite country, close your eyes and imagine yourself there.
How about taking this time to brush up on your holiday Spanish? Next time you travel wouldn’t it be nice to be able to book a table, order food and request the bill, all in the local lingo? How about being able to hold a basic conservation with your waiter or barman?
I’m a big fan of Duolingo, with its bite size lessons. Or if you want to splash the cash a little more, try a CD set like Learn Italian with Paul Noble for Beginners That’s how I learned how to order a bottle of wine in Italian. Admittedly, I gave up after that believing I had all I needed to know.
If, like me, you have hundreds of holiday snaps taking up memory on your phone, now’s the time to sift through, delete duplicates and save them to the cloud. Select your favourites to make a photo wall, or create a photobook of your adventures. Dig out ticket stubs, wristbands, brochures, old currency – anything that you can use to immerse yourself in a trip from your past. Look back on previous trips, and take a walk down memory lane.
I hope this gives you some ideas on how to satisfy that travel itch – no passport or suitcase required! If you have any more ideas, please let me know in the comments below or on social media – I’d love to hear from you!