Days begin to blur, and the concept of time seems to slip away as increasingly stringent isolation and quarantine orders are being implemented the world over.
Going from not being able to go through with your holiday plans to only being allowed to leave the house for essentials can be a pretty harrowing experience for everyone, especially those with great wanderlust.
With the magnitude of COVID-19’s reach, it, unfortunately, seems as though we’d be confined to our abodes for a decent amount of time. It is a pretty daunting fact, but here are some tips to curb our boredom and prevent us from going insane.
Netflix and chill, alone
Let’s face it, streaming services are probably where we all first turn to, so this is a no brainer. Be it the cultural phenomenon of Netflix, the perennial stalwart of YouTube, or the lifestyle-branded Apple TV+ that completes our Apple ecosystem, there are plenty of choices today.
Perhaps plans for a spiritual discovery trip to Tibet or a bustling voyage through India may have been disrupted. However, you can still take those journeys through the critically acclaimed Seven Years in Tibet and the cinematographic genius of The Darjeeling Limited a la Wes Anderson. Two distinctly different films, both equally captivating. Check out our list of movies that bring the beauty of travel to you.
The realm of reality TV also has some great offerings. Those like me who could really use a good comedy about now should check out some of the wacky adventures of talkshow host Conan O’Brien in places like Havana and Tel Aviv on Conan Without Borders, combining both travel and humor. There’s also Stay Here, a great reality show for Airbnb hosts looking to recover post-COVID-19.
In the world of documentaries, however, is where things are really brought to a whole new level. From Our Planet and Planet Earth narrated by the legendary voice of David Attenborough to the technological wonder featured in Night on Earth, the unmatched beauty of nature is captured on lens. Perhaps seeing how beautiful our planet is might encourage you to go greener to protect it, one can hope.
Go on a virtual world tour
With the advancements in technology today, and the increased accessibility to information, going on virtual tours is now a reality. You no longer have to fly to Paris to view the mysterious artifacts of ancient Egypt in the Louvre or Washington D.C. to marvel at the wondrous specimens at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. These museums, along with many others, now have free virtual tours.
But it doesn’t stop with just museums. Historical monuments such as the Sistine Chapel (as well as other buildings in The Vatican) and the Great Wall of China, also have free virtual tours for all who wish to catch a glimpse. Even two of the greatest national parks, Yellowstone and Yosemite, now have virtual tours.
The more tech-savvy bunch of you who have access to virtual reality equipment and resources can also seize the opportunity to go on truly immersive tours. With a plethora of virtual reality experiences available on various platforms, pick some programs that can take you where you typically can’t go like Mount Everest or the Amazon. Google Earth also offers up some great VR experiences.
Pick up a new skill
If all that seems too complicated to you or doesn’t feel fulfilling enough, why not give a hand at something more practical and pick up a new language? There are many great platforms online to help you learn a new language, including Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. It’s a great time to learn the local language for the next destination you plan to visit.
Travel with your gut
It’s safe to say that one of the most (if not the most) essential components of a vacation is food. Think about the times that you’ve been transported back to the bustling streets of Dotonbori in Osaka or the storied cafes of Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris after tasting something reminisce of something you had eaten there.
If you’re lucky enough to be living in proximity of a great patisserie or ramen shop that’s still doing takeout or delivery, good on you, because transporting yourself back to Paris or Osaka just became that much easier. For those of you who don’t, why not cook up a storm? The grocery store is one of the few places that we can still go to, so make use of that!
Most local grocery stores have the ingredients for making homemade tagliatelle or croissants, but if you wish to be taken back to pungent souks of Morroco or vibrant mercados of Spain, venture to nearby specialty stores if they’re open.
Honestly, it’s not that hard to find great pasta or pastries on a typical day, but it is for tagines and paellas. So why not have a shot at recreating it? Anyway, now is the best time to learn how to cook.
Venture into a book (or books)
Before travel became the accessible commodity it is now, people mostly had to rely on books and other literary sources to know about the rest of the world. Travel was a distinct luxury and often took very long.
Throughout the centuries, many stories have been written about our vast planet, from Herodotus’ Histories, which covered his journeys through ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean over 2000 years ago, to Marco Polo’s recount of his adventures along the silk road in his 13th-century The Travels of Marco Polo.
While some like myself prefer such inspiring and civilization-defining epics, some others may prefer contemporary renditions. From the polarizing but commercially successful Eat, Pray, Love to the controversial but masterful In Patagonia, there are endless reads to take you away. Here’s a shortlist of some other contemporary titles.
While we typically define travel writing as nonfiction today, many great tomes have been written based on lore and embellished interpretations. Homer’s Odyssey is widely regarded as the first, with its vivid narration of mythical beasts and beauties. Many others follow in its path, from the dark and sentimental Death in Venice to the humorous and reflective The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Have hope and plan smartly
Do remember that while COVID-19 is not going to disappear in the near future and that we have to adapt to these challenging times, it too shall pass. Take your spare time to plan your next perfect vacation when things get better in the world, or book a staycation if you’re bored of your home (but please practice social distancing).
With most airlines and hotels offering greater flexibility and competitive prices, it has never been this easy and safe to plan in advance.
The lethargy does set in, and it’s harder to get inspired in isolation, but taking some time out of your day for some exercise and meditation can really help to keep things sane. Depending on the regulations in your area, consider heading out to your neighborhood park for a jog or cycle for some fresh air too.
Does this spark joy?
Being cooped up within the confines of your home does have some benefits. First of all, you’d get plenty of time to reorganize and reflect on your space.
Here’s the perfect chance to work on your home-based New Year’s resolutions, be it decluttering your closet, organizing your workspace, or getting some DIY work done around the house.