Lockdowns, quarantine, isolation, Covid… these new terms have not only turned our lives upside down but have also nipped any ideas of travel in the bud since 2019. But even though you probably don’t have a holiday on the horizon, there are still plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in some overseas inspiration.
Whether you want to plan a future trip or remember a past adventure, there are a host of online resources you can rely on to indulge your wanderlust.
Allow movies to transport you to destinations around the world – from the black-and-white beauty of the Italian capital in Roman Holiday (1953) and the rugged splendor of America’s Pacific Crest Trail as depicted in Wild (2014) to the frenetic hawker stalls featured in Crazy Rich Asians (2018).
If Bollywood films are more of your thing, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) – about road-tripping friends, Queen (2013) – an excellent chick flick for those who long for a solo trip, Tamasha (2015) – showcasing the beauty of Corsica, or an oldie-but-goodie like the coming-of-age film Dil Chahta Hai (2001), are all great places to teleport mentally from the comfort of your couch.
For foodies who love the way in which cuisine allows them to familiarize themselves with a far-flung country, work up an appetite by streaming tasty television series such as Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and ex-Chez Panisse chef Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fact Acid Heat. You’ll get a taste of hundreds of gourmet destinations, including Myanmar, Morocco and Mexico.
Just because you might not be staying in a certain city, you can still explore its streets and get to know the locals. Accommodation platform Airbnb has launched a range of Online Experiences that allow hosts to welcome virtual guests. Immerse yourself in the history and culture of a place you would love to visit. You could go back in time to the 17th and 18th centuries with a virtual tour that follows a Plague Doctor Through Prague. Fantasy fiction enthusiasts and kids would love the Harry Potter Magic in Edinburgh Tour. Or explore the electrifying country of Egypt through Local Eyes.
Combining a trip with an educational experience is a popular pastime, and there’s nothing to stop you from learning a new skill while at home. Prepare for your next adventure by using a language-learning app such as Duolingo and start getting to grips with Arabic, Ukrainian or one of the other 30-plus options on offer.
Plenty of other platforms host digital classrooms in some truly inspiring surroundings – such as virtual art studios that offer students the opportunity to sketch, draw and paint their way around Italy, and an online champagne appreciation course that immerses participants in the making and tasting of French fizz.
Tune into soundscapes from around the world that have been captured and uploaded by amateur audio enthusiasts via the Field Recordings podcast. Start your day by listening to the dawn chorus in a tropical Sri Lankan rainforest and introduce children to a croaking frog chorus on Australia’s Kangaroo Island.
For some travel anecdotes, the Rough Guides podcast offers plenty of stories from life on the road – including a visit to the Museum of Witchcraft in Iceland and an incredible encounter with an Aboriginal elder.
While the world still grapples with the new normal of getting through a pandemic, there are plenty of ways to satiate your travel cravings with a little creativity and technology. And when countries and cities do open up completely and safely, we will surely all appreciate our holidays a lot more. Even the previously mundane activities of booking tickets, hotel stay and, of course, good travel insurance to cover any potential losses or accidents, will seem like a treat.