9 things to do when you can’t travel: Quarantine ideas for travellers grounded by COVID-19
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Whew, what a world we live in! With coronavirus wreaking havoc across the globe, millions of us are having to come to terms with our new indoor existence, unable to gallivant and not sure if our future travel plans will still hold. Whether you were able to get yourself home in time or you’ve found yourself grounded in a foreign country mid-trip, one of the most difficult parts of staying in to avoid the virus is going to be the abrupt minimisation of your world as a traveller. You’ve probably become very used to feeling free to stay or move on as you pleased, with a whole planet of possibilities, but now you’re confined to 4 walls with very limited things to do and see. This might be cute and cosy for a few weeks but after a while you’re going to be going BAAAATSHIT CRAYCRAY, so here are a few ideas for you to keep your head above water when you can’t be out exploring.
1. Turn your travel memories into something tangible
Calendars, photobooks, jigsaws, cushions… you name it, you can stick your photos on it! I absolutely looove having my travel memories curated and being able to show others without having to flick through my facebook albums, so for this reason my favourite item is the photobook, but during the COVID-19 outbreak jigsaws have become more and more important in my sad little life. I already have photobooks for the first year of my Latin American adventure, and now finally have the time to create them for the last 14 months of shooting. Turning your snapshots into personalised photo products does sometimes take time to curate and design, but that’s exactly what we’ve got while the Rona has us grounded!
2. Sign up to microstock agencies
Got an eye for photography? You can turn your travel photos into money-makers by uploading them to microstock photography sites. Now, I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t take a fair bit of work for a little bit of pocket money, but having a time-consuming project that leads to some passive income during a period when you can’t travel isn’t the worst thing in the world. The best sites I’ve used in the last 3 years are Shutterstock (high volume of sales but low income – starting at $0.25 per sale) and Alamy (very low volume of sales but high income – my biggest sale so far has been $100). Stock photography is a numbers game; I didn’t start seeing daily sales until I had around 500 images in my portfolio.
If you have a camera capable of producing 4K video (the latest GoPros count too!), you can also make some passive income off of uploading unedited video clips to microstock agencies. Shutterstock do accept lower than 4K, but customers tend to want to buy the best quality in this day and age.
3. Beat loneliness with your travel stories
During this time of lockdown, we’re all feeling the pangs of loneliness that come with not being able to go out and socialise properly, but for thousands of old people across the UK, this is a long-term reality. Age UK are always looking for volunteers to chat on the phone or online with lonely senior citizens across the country, just for an hour or so at a time. You’ve no doubt got a lot of stories to tell of your travels, so put them to good use! Besides, you may be surprised when they share some stories of their own 😉
In the USA, Volunteers of America have a few programs helping the vulnerable which still need volunteers, and Meals on Wheels are always looking for people who don’t mind getting out of the house to deliver food.
4. Start a travel blog
Know what takes up most of my time when I can’t travel the world? Blogging! If you’re like me and you get a real buzz out of helping people with their trips, consider this as a great point in your life to start a travel blog. Blogs do take a ton of work, so go in motivated and clued up to get stuck into some SEO-optimised writing. I strongly recommend Bluehost as a host for your new website; within this you can use WordPress to build your blog, which I see as much more intuitive than Wix, Blogger or Squarespace (I’ve used them all!). Bluehost also always has a great response rate on their support chat who have helped me get over my technical knowledge shortcomings approximately 8264 times in the last 2 years.
5. Plan a new itinerary
Just because you can’t travel during lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t prep! Use Pinterest, travel blogs and my old favourite, Google Maps, to inspire you to dream up your next trip, whenever that may end up being. For those who are past dreaming and into the real planning stage, take this opportunity to get clued up on vaccinations, local customs and finding some off-the-beaten-path destinations. Don’t forget to use my bitesize summaries of the countries in Latin America if that’s where you’re planning to head!
6. Learn a language for an upcoming trip
What better way to connect with locals and get a more immersive cultural experience than to make the effort to learn the language? This stint being holed up inside is a great chance to do so – I’d recommend Duolingo for the first few weeks to pick up basic vocab and sentence structure, but supplement this with GCSE/high school level books and grammar lessons on YouTube for sure. Then once you’re ready, iTalki is the best platform to connect with cheap language teachers all around the world. Intermediate learners should check out the Tandem app to chat with native-speakers, and definitely see what Netflix has to offer in your chosen language. Start with English subtitles, then subtitles in the learning language, then none at all! Here’s a full guide to ways to learn a language from home.
For all those singletons out there who are currently grappling with the idea of not being able to date for the next X months/years, don’t forget that Tinder Passport has been made free during the pandemic. Even if there’s as little chance of actually meeting your matches soon as there is of you finding love in a socially-distanced queue around Tesco’s car park, speaking to locals in your next destination is a really good way of discussing all the best things to do in a city, and possibly lining up a native guide for when you’re eventually able to visit. While it may seem futile, I’ve had a surprisingly good response from people in Valencia who want to chat about their home, learn about England and practice their English. Plus, they tend to be a whole lot better looking than the people living in my parents’ village. To access Tinder Passport, set up an account on the Tinder app, go to settings and change your location to wherever you fancy.
8. Raise money for a good cause
In all of this, the countries that will likely be most affected by the pandemic will be the world’s developing economies. Even if the virus didn’t cause too much damage there, the immediate reduction in tourism in March/April 2020 followed by years of slowness as the rest of the world grapples with safe lockdown exit strategies and many people’s fear of branching out too far will have a long-lasting effect on poorer countries. With this, top global powers experiencing recessions and pulling back their foreign aid and investments will pinch resources in the places that need it most. Have a think about what you can do to raise money for some good causes you’ve come across on your travels (remember to research their processes and ethics first!). I’ve seen people run marathons in their back gardens and climb the length of the Inca Trail on their own stairs for charity since lockdown began!
9. Take care of yourself
DO. NOT. NEGLECT. SELF. CARE. Especially for those who have just ended a long trip or have gotten stuck in another country during the middle of their travels, self-care is crazy important to get your body and mind back to full charge. After 26 months of travelling I can tell you that both physical and mental travel burn-out are very, very real, and this lockdown provides a perfect opportunity for you to get back on track so you’re ready for your next adventure. Keep fit with indoor work-outs (or if you are home and can afford it, a Peloton bike is pretty life-changing! Use referral code GFDGJX to get £100 off accessories when you sign up), eat well, regularly get merry with your friends on video calls, chill out with water-colouring and generally do whatever the hell makes you happy. If you’re worried about your mental health during this time, Hannah’s Happy adventures has a great guide to looking after yourself during lockdown.
Got any other ideas for things to do when you can’t travel during COVID-19? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them! Wishing everyone a safe and sane lockdown!
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