• Karen Buffier

How to Travel When You Can't?

Given the current covid situation there are many of you really feeling the pinch of travel restrictions at this point in time so how do you get your travel fix when you can't travel? How do we keep spirits high and the travel dream alive when everything in the world is telling you no.


The prospect of no significant travel in 2020, or for some the simple inability to even leave your city for a weekend away or a day trip may really be overwhelming you.


Regular travellers grow used to the rush and excitement of landing in new destinations that await our exploration - so this new world can feel mighty claustrophobic. We love the feeling of no real routine, of escaping a cold, damp winter to sunnier locations, or of discovering beautiful corners of the globe that are so different to where we are from.

Well rather than wallowing in our self-pity (don't worry I have been there with you at different points this year!) we must find a silver-lining and ways to savour past adventures and plan for future travels.


Here are 15 ways to remain positive and stay connected to your travel dreams at times when you can't travel.

(Please note that these suggestions are subject to your own individual circumstances and you should consider local restrictions for where you live)



1. Book a Staycation

If you are bored silly with the four walls of your own house and just need a change of scenery why not try booking a staycation in your home town or city?


Indulge in 24-48 hours of indulgence to break the monotony.

Take a dip in the pool, dine in at top notch restaurants, drink a cocktail from rooftop bars or simply indulge in the luxurious surrounds of your room. You can also play tourist for the day and visit nearby attractions.


There are plenty of enticing hotel deals currently, with low occupancy rates ensuring it is the perfect time to score a bargain on a five star hotel stay to spoil yourself for a night or two.


Below are some links for awesome staycation deals currently available in Australia. Just select your dates and see what is available.


CANBERRA

Hotel Realm (Canberra)


SYDNEY

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour


MELBOURNE

QT Melbourne


BRISBANE

The Calile Hotel


ADELAIDE

The Playford Adelaide - MGallery by Sofitel


HOBART

Galleria Sallamanca


PERTH

QT Perth


DARWIN

Rydges Palmerston Darwin



2. Plan Your Next Bucket List Trip

Whilst we may not be able to travel far currently this doesn't mean we have to shut our travel dreams down for good. Now is the perfect time to start brainstorming all your bucket list destinations and thinking about your next destination. You can read my article on the best child friendly destinations to help you start your family travel bucket list.


Put savings to good use and think about how you may be able to take an extended trip once it is safe to do so. Scandinavia anyone?



3. Book a Trip with Flexible Booking Conditions

Take your travel planning one step further and utilise the flexible booking conditions on offer to book some cheap travel. Whilst you will need to remain realistic about what border closures may still be in force, hotel and flight deals abound at the moment and it is a great chance to bag some cheap travel with the hope of things opening back up in 2021.


I recommend using a site such as booking.com for any hotel/apartment bookings and selecting the option that allows free cancellation. Most hotels on booking.com allows for cancellations anywhere from the date of arrival up to a couple of weeks before arrival to allow you to safely plan and adjust if needed.


For flights, many airlines currently have 'covid sale' fares which have some inbuilt considerations for flexibility. More and more airlines are recognising this is the only way to get new bookings and ensure some customer confidence so it is a good step forward.


Both Etihad and Qatar Airways are offering free of charge change conditions on fares currently so are good options to check out.


Many airlines are offering full refunds on new bookings if travel has to be cancelled within a certain time period giving you greater confidence to book some future travel.


Please note this does not apply to pre-existing bookings that still fall under original booking conditions. Make sure you check the terms and conditions thoroughly before booking and note down dates that you need to make decisions by.


Frequent flyer reward seats have also never been easier to find! Given low passenger numbers and airlines wanting to reduce FF balances there are loads of available reward seats to popular destinations that would normally be difficult to get.



4. Read an Inspiring Travel Book

With more home time than ever before, take the time to indulge in some high quality travel guides or books. Below are some of my favourites which are also great gifts for travelling loved ones who need a lift while they can't travel.




If you want to dig into a novel or two here are some fun and inspiring options with plenty more to browse.

The Full Montezuma by Peter Moore

Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes



5. Learn a New Language

Another task that we rarely have time to factor into our busy lives that is perfect for the covid lockdowns is to start learning that language you always dreamed of perfecting.


In anticipation of a slow travel trip through Italy my kids and I have been taking an Italian crash course on duolingo.com. Fulfil the dream to live in another country for a while once the restrictions ease.



6. Explore your Local Area

When all else fails you may need to put on your thinking brain to come up with creative ideas for new things to see and do in your home town or surrounding areas. You don't need to be miles away from home to find adventures in your every day life!


A great place to start is to take a look at airbnb experiences in your city? A local guide may have some perfect ideas for thinking outside the box.


Alternately, pull out a map and see what day trips or short road trips are within reach. Even the smallest towns may have a little gem of a cafe to visit or a beautiful walk to inspire you.


Here are some other ideas:

  • Hike a new trail

  • Hot air ballooning

  • Visit a local day spa for a spot of pampering

  • Camping at a nearby reserve

  • Guided horse-back rides

  • Fishing

  • Visit a museum or art gallery you have never been to before

  • Support local businesses and try out new cafes and restaurants

  • Reinvigorate neglected friendships with small group gatherings at home



7. Travel Vicariously via a Travel Documentary or Destination Movie

Who doesn't love an inspirational travel documentary that leaves you yearning for a different way of life. Break free from the shackles of reality and hook into some of these documentaries to lift the spirits:


Expedition Happiness is a simple - an insight into a favourite tourist destinations in the World. If you love Thailand urbed school bus. Searching for a simpler meaning to life you will love their pet dog that comes along for the journey. a


Passport to the World - Thailand - an insight into one of the favourite tourist destinations in the World. If you love Thailand check out my Thailand section for great holiday ideas with kids.


Free Solo - Not for the feint-hearted but a thriller to watch and get the adrenaline pumping as we witness the solo climb up El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes.


180 Degrees South


Mountain - via Netflix


Or perhaps a destination inspired movie will get your feet itching for a summer getaway or romantic adventure. Be it completely silly or perhaps poignant and moving movies set in exotic locations are always a magnet for good viewing.

  • The African Doctor

  • Eat, Pray, Love

  • The Power of One

  • Before Sunset

  • Like Father

  • The Descendents

  • The Motorcycle Diaries



8. Sample International Cuisine at Home

Sometimes the most amazing thing about travelling is the variety of food that you encounter and get to sample. When you spend an extended time at home all of a sudden you realise that perhaps your cooking skills are pretty average and your normal ten go-to recipes are really hitting ground hog day.


Spice things up literally by setting yourself an International Cuisine quest. Bored with our usual routine and same old restaurant choices my family have quested to try a new Canberra restaurant (our home town) every two weeks between now and the end of the year. Fingers crossed to finding some amazing gems amongst this with the goal to sample lots of different cuisines from across the globe...


If covid restrictions mean you can't go out to restaurants at the moment then perhaps it is time to uber or takeaway your way to a similar food experience. If budget is tight another great option is to take some online recipes and cook up a storm to bolster your list of mastered dishes.



9. Reminisce on Past Trips

So if you are anything like me you get home from your latest trip, swing back into full time work and kid demands and forget to ever lay sight on your amazing travel photos and videos. Let's change that up and really take the time to give this footage some well-deserved love.


Finally you can get some awesome online photo albums loaded and maybe even printed or turned into prints to display around the house. Or, collate your videos into some cool travel videos that will make for fun family movie nights.


Nothing beats reminiscing on past trips to bring back the warm, fuzzy feeling of travel.



10. Make your Home a Luxury Retreat

When all else fails how about transforming your home into your own luxury pad. Splurge on super luxurious bed sheets, switch off your phone, take a long, hot bath and order in your favourite food. Take extra steps by setting the table nicely and even get the kids to be your waiter to bring them in on the fun.


If you want to take this further how about tackling a long awaited home renovation project. Always wanted a resort style backyard? Now is the time to transform. Maybe a luxurious bathroom upgrade or something simpler such as new window coverings for a fresh hotel feel?



11. Get fit with travel activities

Trying new activities is part and parcel of travel and the opportunity to get fit with new and different exercise options is half the fun. Consider trying one of these holiday inspired activities to keep fit during covid and get you out of the same old gym routine:

  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding

  • Bike Riding

  • Tennis lessons

  • Learn to scuba dive

  • Kayaking and canoeing

  • Hiking

  • Yoga

  • Golf

  • Wind surfing


12. Change your Routine

Every day life is kinda hectic and for most people it consists of a reasonably structured timetable from week to week. My favourite part of being on holidays is being off the clock. Nowhere to necessarily be and no expectations to be met.


In the stressful times of covid its important that we consider changing up our routines to keep life fun and interesting. With many of us working from home it is easy to let work life take over personal time and the blurred lines between both can be starting to impact on the fun levels.


Make the concerted effort to enjoy adhoc breaks in routine and to throw some curve balls into your day. This can be as simple as taking a day time hike because the weather is great and you want to enjoy some sunshine. You can catch up on work when the day cools and the sun is gone but that unplanned jaunt outside may be just the break in routine you need to boost productivity and happiness levels.



13. Relish the Environmental Regeneration

So this one is more about the feel-good benefits of all of us not travelling quite so much. Whilst it doesn't help us miss like crazy the option to jump on a plane to anywhere, almost all travellers love the natural environments that we explore and hope that we can conserve them for the future. The mass reduction in travel is having significant effects on air pollution levels and the BBC has a good article outlining this.


Let's hope that we can take some positive actions from what we are seeing to instigate more sustainable travel practices in the future.



14. Start Saving - Cash and Points

Now is the perfect opportunity to really stash away some spare cash ready for your next big trip. Set your travel goals and stick to a plan to save to make it happen.


If you have been fortunate to keep your job during the covid crisis this is the perfect opportunity for hardcore saving to finance future trips. With nowhere to go and little happening socially under the restrictions you may be finding your bank balance is getting a healthy boost at the moment.


Consider what travel hacks may be worth getting your hands on to boost your travel bonuses. New credit cards often give big bonus frequent flyer points - just make sure you keep the balance paid as the fees and interest rates are normally higher.


Perhaps you will be able to turn your two week trip into six weeks which would be kinda sweet.



15. Indulge in Sunset or Sunrise

Epic sunsets and sunrises are part and parcel of travelling the globe and can really give you a lift. Don't let these sublime parts of the day slip by once you are home. Buck the routine mentioned above and take an early morning or late afternoon walk to the top of a hill near home to take a moment of calm. You may even just forget where you are and think you are back in Santorini for the evening...

Canberra sunrise

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Stay safe until the travel skies open for us all.


NEXT: Destination guides for your next trip.




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