If you’re reading this blog, chances are you like to get away once in a while. The great outdoors is probably your jam but even a one day city break would be great right now. Any trip, be it overland or by plane, abroad or domestic, would be welcomed by most of us.
Don’t let the virus dampen your spirits and affect your mental wellbeing, for some countries the end is in sight and travel may soon become a reality again. It’s not time to give in and become an armchair adventurer just yet. 2021 has the potential to be the year we get back out on the trail, restriction-free.
So here are four things you can do to leave yourself feeling excited about the future whilst becoming inspired. If you’re lucky, you might even learn something new.
Plan Dream Trips
This is something you may have already done pre-COVID. Planning imaginary trips is a great thing to do to remind yourself that the good times are coming back. Emphasis on the plural there, dig deep into your bucket list (especially the ideas that seem really ‘out there’) and start planning multiple trips.
Using websites like Expedia and Skyscanner you can see the prices, airlines and dates of flights, months into the future. From here you could use other comparison sites to check hotels, the best climbing spots or just find out the places where all the locals eat.
Create itineraries of several trips, price them up and chose the ones that excite you whilst not giving your bank balance a panic attack. You can even go old school and buy yourself a Lonely Planet of your desired country, written guides often show you things you weren’t looking for that you’ll be glad to know about.
Google Maps and Geoguessr
You can easily pass by a day just exploring the world on Google Maps. Zoom all the way out for a spherical view of the world or get up close and personal with the Street View feature. If you haven’t used this in a while you will be surprised by how much of the world the little Google car has photographed.
When planning road trips, Google Maps is a reliable tool for giving you an idea of just how long a journey will take. There are a plethora of clever options such as bypassing highways if you are cycling or you just fancy the scenic route.
So chances are you have already heard of Google Maps and you may yourself also be somewhat addicted to its endless terabytes of information on our world. Have you heard of Geoguessr though?
Geoguessr is a browser-based game that uses the Google Maps engine. In a nutshell, the game plants you in a random location somewhere on earth.
Using your knowledge of the world and other tricks you must guess where you are. It could be anywhere from Bangkok to Berlin, the more you play the better you get. Most players use clues like the language on signs, what side of the road the cars are on, how the people dress and so on.
But some of the world’s best competitive players like Geowizard on YouTube even check where the sun rises from to help with international topography.
The best part about the game is the nostalgia you get for old travel spots or ideas for new ones. There are thousands of maps to choose from and tons of game types (new ones are regularly released too). For all the young readers out there, this game is down with kids and even offers a Battle Royale mode now for a more competitive and exhilarating experience.
Everyone and their dog has heard of Wikipedia but good old Wikitravel seems to get left behind. The website is curated for free by its members and can be viewed in most major languages. With over 123,000 pages in English you are going to find the answers you seek here.
When planning trips or just daydreaming yourself around the world, this website is a must. The language used is more casual than its encyclopedic cousin and the detail on locations is deep. Every article on a town, city or country will give you the information you need to get there, eat, sleep and stay safe. Plus a million other things that you did or didn’t need to know.
Apps such as Wikivoyage allow you to do a complete website rip of Wikitravel excluding images (to reduce file size) meaning that you can have the entire website on your phone offline. This is an incredible resource for when the world opens up again. Next time you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and can only say “one beer please” in the local dialect, you’ll have 123,000+ articles to choose from, one of them is bound to help you out.
YouTube Travel Vlogs
When you think of the big travel vloggers out there you may cringe as every video seems to start with “hey guys, please like and subscribe” followed by erratic cuts of obligatory drone shots of a perfect island in the Maldives somewhere as some SoundCloud electronica plays.
Thankfully there are plenty of lesser-known vloggers out there that let the locations speak for themselves and only show you cheese when they’re visiting France. If you just want to forget about your current situation and live vicariously through the folly and adventures of others, YouTube is probably your best option.
The world’s biggest video site is also a great learning resource, a sort of ‘try before you buy’ of the countries you want to visit but aren’t quite sure about. But where to begin when there’s so much quality content?
Bald and Bankrupt is a good place to start. A channel featuring a charismatic Englishman who presents countries as they are. This insightful Brit is also a dab hand at learning languages so he gets a closer look than most.
Or if you want to explore the mountains of North Wales while you are guaranteed to stay dry, check out Chris Homer. This rising talent creates stunning silent (mostly) videos showing his solo ascents. His mixture of mountaineering expertise and professional cinematography are a match made in heaven, which by the looks of things is perhaps located in Wales.
These are only a handful of ways you can ‘get out there’ without even leaving the room. If you haven’t already, try to use this situation as a time of reflection and planning. Every great trip began as a dream, with all this time to spend at home, start dreaming.