How to Travel from Home

The past year and a half have been difficult. And that’s putting it mildly. We all know someone who has suffered from COVID, and many of us know someone who has died from it. International borders are mostly shut, most of us are stuck at home; and a lot of us can’t leave. If you’re like me, and you probably are if you’re reading this post, you miss travelling. Facebook has been reminding you of your travel memories. You still have all those travel photos you haven’t organized yet; perhaps sorting through those will get you through the pandemic – it won’t, but you can try.  But what do you do when the cabin fever starts to kick in? The four walls of your house are becoming overly familiar, you’re starting to miss the cheap hostels that you used to torture yourself by staying in, and you wish you were buying coffee from an airport on your way to your next trip destinaton. I have some great tips below for you if you feel like kicking this feeling in the butt…at least for the time being.

1. Zoom those International Friends

Yes, I went there – Zoom *eyeroll*. Are you sick of zoom yet? I certainly am. But even though we all might be feeling like Zoombies, having a ‘face to face’ conversation with those friends overseas really helps. Perhaps they can leave their house where they are and can show you their small corner of their country – and you can show them your country. Mental health has been one of those things that isn’t talked about enough, ever, especially during this pandemic and it has decreased significantly since COVID started. Having just one zoom convo with an overseas friend, or an interstate friend, you haven’t seen in a while can really boost your confidence – and perhaps the four walls of your little home will feel a bit bigger.

2. Geoguessr

I absolutely love this game. A friend mentioned it to me when the pandemic started and I have been addicted since. The premise of the game is you select a place in the world and you have 5 rounds to guess where you are, and each round you’re in a different part of that place. For example, you choose the United Kingdom – the map maker has chosen heaps of random places in the UK and you have landed in 5 of those places. I absolutely love this game because I can choose to go to any country in the world and feel like I am almost there – much like going into street view on Google Maps (I know I am not the only one that has done this several times over the past year), but with a twist that will make your time in the map a bit more fun.

3. Google Arts and Culture

Do you love going to Museums while Travelling? Or how about travelling around a city by foot? Google Arts and Culture is able to bring the world to you. You can scroll through Van Goghs artworks, find out more about Japanese cuisine, or play a cultural crossword. One of my favourite things about Google Arts and Culture is being bale to virtually walk through the Modern Museum of Art or the Victoria & Albert Museum. Culture is at your finger tips, even when you’re boxed in your little home in your corner of the world.

4. Books

Now this might seem like a given but I can’t recommend this enough. Books can transport you to anywhere in the world, and often places that aren’t even in our world. If you have an itching desire to go to Hawaii, you can look up ‘Books Based in Hawaii’ and there you will be for the time being. Goodreads is amazing for this! I think that I have bought the most books I have ever bought in my whole life during the pandemic – I have no shelves left! But at least I can travel between Middle Earth and Cornwall anytime I want. Another good idea is finding a travel writer – I recommend Bill Bryson – and you can live through their stories as they take you to country after country. The Lonely Planet also has a diverse collection of really good travel books. If you some spare cash, you could subscribe to a travel magazine – you never know, this could inspire you for your first trip out of the pandemic.

5. Learn to Cook from another Cuisine

Do you remember visiting that place with that really amazing dish? Perhaps try to learn how to make it? Or you can set a different cuisine for each night of the week – Monday is pizza night, Tuesday is curry night, Wednesday is Thai night…and so on. One of the best things about travelling is being able to try new foods and with the internet at our fingertips we are able to reach thousands of recipes from across the world. The Pandemic might be a good excuse to stick to the 2 minute noodles, but we both know Pad Thai is so much better.

6. Virtual Tours

While the pandemic has been terrible, for the obvious reasons, many great things have been created or discovered because of it. Most tourist industries have suffered a great loss to the lack of travelling in the pandemic, but many have adapted to the growth in people being online. This kind of fits in to Google Arts and Culture as you can do many virtual tours through there. However, not every castle and museum will be on there. Not every tour is free – some I have found cost around $20 aud, others might be more expensive or free. Many places also have live cams – if you get bored of the farm animals in the UK, there are plenty of live cams of animals in Africa.

7. Travel Films and Shows

A classic idea, which you might already be onto by the time you’re reading this. With many people subscribing to Netflix and other streaming services, we have a multitude of travel films and shows at just a click away. My favourite documentary hosts are Tony Robinson, Rick Stein (technically hosts cooking shows), and David Attenborough (an icon!). There are many other types of travel films available as well, Into the Wild being one of my favourites. Travel TV shows are another amazing way to pass the time, while being in the travel mindset. They are often packed full with amazing stories from all around the world – I highly recommend the Railway Journeys series by George Bradshaw, Men in Kilts with Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish and any cooking show you can find.

8. Plan a Future Trip

This might sound a bit depressing because you would be planning a trip you aren’t sure you can go on it yet, however, planning a future trip can really put your agitated mind at rest. This is really good for those mad budgeters (like me), and overplanners. So far, I have planned 7 potential trips with my friend – we will probably only go on one, if at all. Planning a trip can take a long time, and it can be fiddly, but we can all agree it is one of the most fun parts of travelling. I recommend keeping trip advisor open and having your spreadsheet + word documents open!

9. Travel Locally

Some of us are lucky and we are able to travel locally. If you can, do it! As I said before, many tourist industries across the world have suffered because of the pandemic so lets support our local areas. Go to that winery you always drive past but never go into, or perhaps take the dog for a camping trip to the nearby national park for the weekend. Whatever your local region has, go out there and discover it! There are so many parts of my local region that I didn’t know we had – who knew we had so many wineries and breweries nearby.

10. Join a Travel Group

Travel groups are an amazing way to connect to people while travelling, but as we are all in the midst of a pandemic, we are all in the same boat – none of us are travelling as much as we would like. I’m apart of a few women only travel groups, which are fantastic! When I go to a new country, I know there will be someone apart of one of those groups that would like to meet up for a coffee. But, alas, none of us are going to do that anytime soon – unless there are some people in your region and you can meet up. Sometimes they might even have virtual meetups – see point 1 about zoom! On these groups you can also just talk about all things travel.

11. Travel Themed Subscriptions

Magazines aren’t the only things you can subscribe to! There are numerous amazing travel magazines out there, but there are also heaps of travel related subscriptions services. You can join a travel themed book club or subscribe to a box of delicious food from overseas. Instead of going into the world, you can bring the world to you.

12. An International PenPal

This is something I have done with my friend Taryn from Texas (Check her out at TarynUpTheMap). We write each other letters every month or so and honestly, it is wonderful! We get to tell each other what is happening in our lives in lockdown and we get to send each other stuff in the envelopes! I can’t recommend this more. While it might seem redundant in the age of instant messaging, but receiving a written letter can be incredibly satisfying. Sometimes travel facebook groups organize penpals with people in the group – which can always be fun.

Organise your Travel Photos

You may have already done this, I certainly have. But many of us get home from a trip and leave our travel photos unorganised – they sit in our phones or cameras, we occasionally look at them and reminisce, post on insta, and that’s sometimes it. However, what you can do is sort through them all! Going through all your travel photos while you’re stuck at home can be quite sad, but it can also be fun to go down memory lane and escape for a moment. I have organised my photos by trips – so my trip to the UK in 2019 is in a folder call “2019 UK Travels”, and each photo is labelled with the year 2019 and the location of the photo – then when I really want a photo of Stonehenge all I have to do is search it in my google drive. It will make things easier in the future and it can help you think about previous travels while you’re stuck at home.

So there you have it, some ideas to keep sane while in the pandemic. Remember, this won’t last forever. As the wise old Gandalf said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us,” and “Even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer,” which I think is incredibly relevant in these times. You will step on a plane again. You will be packing your suitcases soon. The pandemic will pass, but right now, all we have to do is decide what to do with the time we are given – perhaps you will do some of the things in the list above.

Tell me what you think below? How are you going in the pandemic? Do you have any tips for travelholics?

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Advice for Solo Travellers

Traveling solo has become a popular way to travel and is becoming more popular every day. As a young woman who has traveled solo before I can say that I have met some lifelong friends, made some of my favourite memories and I am keen to do it again when I can. The world beyond can be scary, which is a major reason why many women don’t travel solo. If you continue reading, then you’ll know why the world is worth exploring as a solo traveler.

1. Overcome your fears

I started travelling solo when I was 18, that year I turned 19, and through this year abroad I learnt that one of the most important things is overcoming your fears. You might be nervous to leave home alone, or perhaps you’re scared of flying. Any fear you have about travelling is perfectly reasonable, and the only way to overcome that is to do the experiences. Step out of your comfort zone atleast every day when you travel. Trust me, when you return home you will be grateful you did.

2. Make friends

Another amazing thing about travelling is the friends you make along the way, and sometimes the friends you make will be the people you didn’t expect to meet. When I was staying in Inverness, I did a day trip to Isle of Skye with Rabbies Tours. On there was another girl travelling solo from Texas. We bonded and spent the rest of the weekend exploring Inverness, then later explored Edinburgh together. We are still great friends and talk all the time, despite being in two different countries. The friends you make while travelling will be some of the coolest friends you’ll have – get out there, don’t be shy, overcome the fear of socializing and meet those people!

3. Planning

I can’t recommend this enough. This might sound like a given, but I highly recommend planning your days and weeks for your trip. Planning might take a while but knowing where you’re going for how long and how much it will cost is very important. On my last trip, I didn’t plan every single day so sometimes I found that there were no buses going that day or I got to a place and there wasn’t actually anything to do there. If you’re unsure about how to plan for your trip, you can read my post on How to Plan for Your Next Trip. A lot more goes into planning a holiday, especially if you want to do a lot while you’re traveling. I also recommend using Trip Advisor for your research.

4. Group Tours

This partly goes hand in hand with my last two points. Group Tours are an incredible way to travel, you can make friends – like I did at the Isle of Skye – and it’s a great way to get around. I recommend planning where and when you do group tours as they can book out quickly, especially during the summer when most tourists are around. Group tours are also a great way to see more of the area you are in and see place you wouldn’t be able get to by yourself. You also get a tour guide who knows so much more than the tour brochures you’ll find about the place you’re visiting. Although, I would recommend looking at reviews first. If you’re in the UK, I highly recommend Rabbies. I can’t recommend Group Tours enough!

5. Online Travel Groups

There are tonnes of travel groups online nowadays. I am apart of a few female travel groups and the support on these groups is incredible. You can learn heaps about travelling from these groups as the other members will be able to tell you so much about travel and the place you’re going to. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet new people. Say you’re going to a new city and you’ve never been there before, I can promise you there will be someone either living there or visiting at the same time as you. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and to explore whichever place you’re in.

6. Safety is Key

This may be a given, but I know from my own experience, that it can be easy to relax about safety when you’re in specific places or with friends. Trust me, when you’re traveling you need to be alert. While it is important to have fun while you’re traveling and looking over your shoulder all the time can ruin your trip. However, take the necessary precautions to stay safe. This could include letting people at home where you are and giving them your itinerary, tell your accommodation where you’re going that day or when you plan to get back, knowing the emergency numbers, just to name a few. Also, make sure you keep your travel documents safe while traveling. Sometimes your accommodation will give you a safe in your room – some hostels give you a locker if you’re in a door. I recommend using these lockers, or safes, as you’ll know your precious things are safe in there while you’re exploring, just don’t forget to leave those things in there.

7. Check Out Your Accommodation

Imagine this: You arrive in a new city, its beautiful, you’re excited, you’ve never been here before. You get to your accommodation, you can’t find the bathrooms or the showers, the staff are rude, the rooms are messy, the other guests are creeping you out, and the beds are uncomfortable. Doesn’t sound great does it? Trust me on this, bad accommodation can put a dampener on the rest of your trip. I made the mistake of only reading reviews on a specific website – all 5 star reviews. The hostel was awful! After my stay there, I checked the reviews on trip advisor and the hostel had received 2 stars or less. I now know to always check the reviews of hostels – especially on trip advisor as most people here are quite honest.  

8. Know About the Country You’re Travelling To

Part of traveling to a new country is that it’s a new experience! Which is amazing! But something you should always do before traveling is to get to know the country a bit better. What is the national language? What is the best way to travel? How far apart are your destinations? Whereabouts are you staying? What are the emergency numbers, i.e., for the police? It’s always good to feel prepared before landing in the new country – you’ll be able to arrive feeling confident in a new place and you’ll have plenty of time to soak it up.

9. Bring a Good Camera + Save Your Pics!

These could have been two points, but I have added them into one point because they go hand in hand. Bring a good camera, or have a phone with a good camera, and save your pics somewhere – i.e. google drive, or a travel photo album. Trust me on this, in 5 years time when you’re in lockdown at home, or stuck at your desk at work, you will miss travelling and those memories will be saved for you to reminisce over.

10. Join a Pub Crawl

Much like the Group Tours, this is a great way to meet people – especially if you’re in a hostel. Bonus: If you’re in a hostel, then you’re hostel will probably organize a pub crawl – I recommend doing this one as you’ll meet people that are staying at the same hostel as you and they can be your travel buddies in your current destination. It’s also a great way to see the local area, see the night life and know the local pubs – you can revisit these pubs with your new travel buddies 😉.

11. Go On a Walking Tour

Similarly to the Pub Crawl, your hostel will probably organize one of these if you’re staying in one. If you’re not in a hostel, there are plenty of walking tours available, check out the local tourist centre or local areas website. Imagine a Walking Tour being a sober pub crawl…with less pubs. You can see the local area, soak up the culture, and see the sites. This is a great way to meet new travel buddies, or perhaps you met new friends last night on the Pub Crawl (unless you can’t remember meeting them, of course), and you all have decided to do this activity together. I can’t recommend doing this enough!

12. Always Arrive at Your Destination During the Day

It can be difficult to navigate a new city at night time, often you’re tired after a long journey, and it’s important to make life easy when you’re a solo traveler. Once I was travelling from my homeland of Australia to England and I needed to get from London to friends in the countryside. I made the mistake of getting to London in the late afternoon and I didn’t get to my friends until late at night, which meant I was incredibly tired when I got to London and I wasn’t completely awake when I was navigating the London Underground and trains. I have learnt my lesson and will always make sure I arrive in the day.

13. Print Out Your Flight Itinerary

Trust me! You need a physical copy, and you will need it on you! This is a great tip I’ve learned from my mum, who has traveled A LOT, and I am incredibly grateful. Having a physical copy of your flight itinerary on you will mean you won’t have to mess around on your phone, and you don’t have to worry about your phone running out of battery. This will make your life a lot easier when you’re at the airport. Alternatively, if you’re not traveling by plane and rather by boat or train, then I recommend printing out the itinerary for that.

14. Book At least Your First Night of Accommodation

This might seem like a given, but I’ve been in the situation when I didn’t book the accommodation until I arrived in the country. It was the middle of summer, everyone else was there, and there was limited accommodation. Never again will I do this. I managed to book a decent B&B, which had a great traditional breakfast, but I didn’t have the peace of mind of having a bed that night. If you do anything from this list, please do at least this point.

15. Always Pack Some Extra Room

One thing I have always struggled with when travelling is packing! I somehow manage to pack an almost empty suitcase and come back with my suitcase bursting at the seams. This can be avoidable in a few ways – you either pack less before you leave, or you don’t buy much when you’re travelling. If you’re like me and can’t resist a good deal, or can’t resist buying an extra pair of shoes that will definitely remind you of that one day on that one trip, then my number 1 packing tip is to pack sensibly and to not pack anything you definitely will not need overseas. Also, check the weight limits of the plane carrier you’re travelling with. I usually go with QANTAS and their limit for overseas travel is usually around 30kg (66 pounds) if you’re travelling in economy.

So there you have it, my advice for solo travelling. It is a bold step to take, but it is a step that’s worth taking. I would love to know more about your travel stories! Comment your thoughts below!

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