What can we do now if we cannot travel abroad?
We’ve had a very productive remote session among some of the contributors of this blog and we came up with the following ideas and, more importantly, resources.
The list of streaming services and resources in the Free Streaming Services section is updated often, please get in touch or add a comment if you have more.
Update: now that the lockdown is easing in many countries, including the USA and Europe, the resources here are still valuable. Nobody knows how the new normal in travel is going to be, nor in life in general. However; the tendency seems to challenge the established working standards, with more companies going remote-only, and more business going online-only. So maybe it’s not a bad time to start an online business or invest.
This is one of the easiest alternative activities in this era of self-isolation. Nobody seems to be reading travel blogs at the moment, so bloggers and writers are struggling like all the industry.
A good alternative is to read novels and other types of books set in destinations you are interested in. Our post Books set in Naples provides some recommendations.
You can also learn about things you never knew and you would never research about due to lack of time. Some of these are strange festivals, mysterious towns, remote lakes and mountains, different cultures, artists (we’ve written posts about artists like Banksy and Klimt) and more.
Lonely Planet also offers plenty of books, magazines and also online content. And there are many other resources, for instance, some bookshops in London are delivering books for free to those in self-isolation.
If you like cooking, our next section provides book recommendations on the topic.
Self-isolation could also be a good opportunity to start cooking more. The number of dishes from all around the world that we can prepare at home is endless. And we don’t always need sophisticated ingredients or tools.
We currently have excellent posts about traditional food in multiple countries, some of them are:
There are plenty of options in all the posts above. And don’t worry about shortages of ingredients due to Covid19, there are always alternatives.
We can also provide some book recommendations about cooking and international cuisine:
- Around the world in 80 dishes
- The World’s Best Street Food: Where to Find it & How to Make it
- World’s Best Street Food
- The World in My Kitchen: Global Recipes for Kids to Discover and Cook
And there are also good websites and applications such as Yummly, which provides recipe recommendations personalized to the individual’s tastes, semantic recipe search, a digital recipe box, shopping list and one-hour grocery delivery (in some countries).
Plan your next trip
It seems hard to plan a trip at the moment, there is a general sensation of sadness and lack of motivation. Plenty of people are just not in the mood for planning, not even rescheduling. The uncertainty is too big.
However; there is nothing that can stop us to plan a trip. It does not have to be next month or next summer, not even this year. It actually does not need a date.
Some things may change during the isolation period, such as prices, currency exchange rates and reservations. But others won’t, such as distances, landmarks and roads.
Our post about best travel websites lists many useful resources to use in all stages of your trip: Plan, Search, Find and Travel. For more specific posts about destinations, you can look at our destinations map or archives. Or just do a text search on the top right corner.
Also check our post How to Find the Cheapest Flights to Anywhere, where you will find many ways to find cheap flights. For instance, Skyscanner has released some features to help travellers identify flexible tickets, which is going to be helpful post-Covid.
Take a virtual tour
Many museums offer virtual tours and collections online and given the current situation many more will start doing the same, so there is going to be plenty of material online. Some of them are:
- Pinacoteca di Brera – Milan
- Galleria degli Uffizi – Florence
- Musei Vaticani – Rome
- Museo Archeologico – Athens
- Prado – Madrid
- Louvre – Paris
- British Museum – Londres
- Metropolitan Museum – New York
- Hermitage – San Pietroburgo
- National Gallery of Art – Washington
And besides museums, some of the world’s most beautiful sights and landmarks are available as virtual tours, as follows:
Moreover, there are other very interesting initiatives such as The Five Cousins. It is a virtual tours platform offering real-time tours led by professional guides. They currently offer tours in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Český Krumlov, Madrid, Budapest, Porto, Segovia and Patagonia (Argentina and Chile).
Each tour takes a maximum of 12 travellers and the entry fee is 5 EUR (5€) per person attending the experience. We’ve taken the one in Barcelona with Gabo and it was excellent.
Watch TV and online content
This is also an easy alternative when staying in, probably easier than reading. But there is only a certain amount of time that we can spend in front of a screen, for our own health as well.
But other than your favourite TV shows and series on your favourite streaming service, there are plenty of good resources about travel.
Some of the best TV shows about travelling that we have seen lately were those presented by Simon Reeve, a British author and television presenter. He makes travel documentaries and has written books on international terrorism, modern history and his adventures. You can find some of his TV episodes on the BBC. In terms of books, Step by Step and Tropic of Capricorn are the most popular ones.
I’d also like to mention Rick Steves, a pioneer American travel writer, author, activist and television personality. His travel philosophy encourages people to explore less-touristed areas of destinations and to become immersed in the local people’s way of life. You can find all his videos on youtube, mostly about Europe. Some of them may be out of date, but they still have value. His books are also available online, such as this one about Mediterranean Cruise Ports.
And I also have or must mention Sir David Attenborough. For those who don’t know him, he is an English broadcaster and natural historian, best known for his BBC’s documentaries. He has won many awards and is considered one of the greatest Britons of all time. Although his work is more about animal and plant life on Earth, we can discover amazing places by watching his videos and documentaries. For instance, he recently released an interactive journey to discover The Great Barrier Reef in Australia. And some of his best TV moments are also available on youtube.
The BBC (UK) is also releasing a virtual festival of the arts called Culture in Quarantine.
There are also some great initiatives all around the world to cope with the situation, and opera houses and theatres are now offering free streaming services:
Free Streaming Services
- The Metropolitan Opera (New York)
- The Vienne State Opera (Vienna)
- Sadler’s Wells (London)
- Shakespeare’s Globe (London)
- West End Acoustic: The Quarantine Sessions (West End stars performing live-streamed concerts)
Practise Pilates and/or Yoga
Back health is really important, especially now that we are staying at home, probably keeping an incorrect posture for many hours. The “slouched” position when we are seated, create an imbalance that can lead to weaker core muscles and back pain.
Pilates is perfect to get your core stronger and to counterbalance that incorrect posture, so we keep a good alignment by strengthening our leg, back, arms, and core muscles.
There are plenty of resources online. Among the ones I’ve seen, I can recommend Cecilia, who offers free quick workouts for all levels. You can find all her videos on her youtube channel or website. She is also doing Yoga classes as well, such as the 45-minute Vinyasa Flow Practice of the video above.
Start your own blog
It seems to be a good time to start a blog or any business online. If you have time to spend on your laptop a new blog could be a reasonable idea. However; all travel blogs are struggling to maintain their visitors, no one in the industry is doing good.
Other types of content are getting more attraction, such as games, fitness and cooking. But despite what you are planning to write about, these things may take time so it’s always a good time to start and think in the long term.
I would like to write at least a couple of posts about blogging but it will take some time. In the meantime, I can share basic tips for beginners. The basic steps are to start a blog are simple.
- Find a good name and subject/niche.
- Find a platform (and hosting provider and domain if needed).
- Write content (as much and valuable as possible).
- Customise your blog.
- Promote and share.
- Make some money.
In terms of implementation, my main advice is to use WordPress, a free and open-source content management system, which is used by more than 60 million websites, including 33.6% of the top 10 million. But you have two options here:
1. You don’t have technical skills and you are not planning to invest in developers nor hosting.
If this is your case you can use wordpress.com. It’s a free (basic plan) hosted service and where you can create your own blog in minutes, without worrying about hosting nor any technical stuff.
2. You have some technical skills or you are planning to invest in developers and hosting.
In this case, you will need to download the platform from wordpress.org, and take care of the installation, maintenance, hosting and domain, or arrange this with the developer you are hiring. There are plenty of tutorials online, such as this one for installation.
Or write somewhere else…
There are a number of websites where you can write and even get some extra money. Nowadays, besides the most popular question-and-answer website, Quora, there is a very popular online publishing platform called Medium, where you can also make money.
There are a few very good ideas in our Best Travel gadgets post, which also includes some specific examples, most of them available on Amazon.
Some of the recommended gadgets for travelling are:
Last but not least, given the global pandemic, one of the most popular gadgets to travel from now on could be Hand Sanitiser Gel.
Learn a new skill
As you know, the Internet is an endless source of content and knowledge, but it is not always reliable. However; there are many resources besides blogs and youtube, some of them with more formal courses and even degrees.
Two of the most popular online learning platforms are:
- Udemy. As of Jan 2020, the platform has more than 50 million students and 57,000 instructors teaching courses in over 65 languages. There have been over 295 million course enrollments.
- Lynda. It was acquired by LinkedIn in 2015 and offers video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills.
If you are thinking about learning a new language, which is going to be useful for your future trips, the most popular application is currently Duolingo, with ±300 million users. It offers 94 different language courses in 23 languages.
Another great application is Memrise, which with you can learn a language with thousands of video clips of real native speakers, fun and effective games to practice your skills
What about instruments? The renowned guitar brand Fender is offering 3 months of free lessons online.
The “new normal” (after Covid-19) seems to challenge the established working standards, with more companies going remote-only, and more business going online-only. So maybe it’s not a bad time to start an online business/blog or invest.
Is this related with travel at all? Maybe it is not per se, but we know many bloggers and freelancers that can have a nomad life by having an online business or work remotely, or just investing.
Peer-to-peer Lending or Crowdlending
It’s one of the newest investing practises and consist of lending money to individuals or businesses through online services that match lenders with borrowers. Peer-to-peer lending companies often offer their services online and attempt to operate with lower overhead and provide their services more cheaply than traditional financial institutions.
There is an interesting tradeoff between the lack of traditional financial institutions, risk and potential earning. Most platforms are relatively new and there are almost no regulations. Some platforms (3 that I know) has been proved to be scams. But others have survived and early adopters are earning good amounts of money. The general and gold rule is to do your own due diligence, always.
There is plenty of information online. I can recommend two platforms that seem to be reliable: Peerberry and Mintos. And there is another that was in doubt but has proved itself surviving the Covid-19 crisis and offering higher interest rates (up to 32% per year for certain projects): Crowdestor.
If you are curious or have doubts about this method, I strongly recommend this forum: Crowdlending Global.
CAUTION: Capital at risk.
Start your own Print-on-demand shop
Print on demand is a case/example of drop shipping and has gained popularity in the last couple of years.
It is the process in which a supplier customise white-label products based on a design, which are then sell on a per-order basis under your own brand, or no brand at all.
As a seller, you submit your design, you set the price including the profits you want, and the platform takes care of everything else, including payment, fulfilment and shipping. So there is no need to invest in advance, buy in bulk nor hold any inventory. So it’s 100% risk-free.
Services offer a huge variety of products, including hats, towels, t-shirts, sweatshirts, face masks, posters, aprons and more.
The most popular platform is Printful. It has the widest selection of products and brands, it’s very easy to use and connect with the most popular shops such as Shopify, Amazon and Etsy. Another alternative, especially convenient in the US and Canada, it’s Printify.
However; both alternatives above require a store where you can connect the platform to. If you want to just submit designs and hope to sell them, RedBubble is your best choice. They are a print-on-demand platform and store at the same time, meaning that the designs are sold on the same website.