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Traveller in lockdown in New York City is self-isolating and stuck at home

A Guide for Travellers in Lockdown

Satisfy Your Wanderlust Without Leaving the House

By Thom Brown | 31st March, 2020
Updated on 14th April, 2020

As of 24th March 2020, an estimated 1.7 billion people around the world were in lockdown, ordered by their governments to stay home to slow the spread of Coronavirus. That’s 20% of the world, unable to meet their friends, go to restaurants, or travel abroad.

As much as we understand the need for these unprecedented measures, this sudden change of pace has been a struggle for some. Are you one of those drawn to the unknown and unbeaten paths; constant change and looking around corners? Do your insides burn with restless energy, your feet itching for a pair of hiking boots and an uncharted plain?

The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually ease and travel will continue as normal, but there may still be reasons you end up stuck at home for extended periods of time. Maybe through illness, caring for family, financial reasons, or just long-lasting bad weather. Whatever the reason, you need tools to cure the boredom and restlessness.

There are times when nomads, drifters, and wanderers end up stuck in one place. As your wanderlust intensifies, here are some ways you can satisfy those cravings to travel.

Why do people travel?

In order to achieve the benefits of travelling while in lockdown, it’s important to understand the reasons for travelling. These include:

  1. Curiosity: the desire to explore the unknown.
  2. Personal development: exposing yourself to new challenges so you can grow and achieve self-improvement.
  3. Escaping negative emotions: wanting to do something to improve your mental health.
  4. Finding purpose: giving your life meaning and engaging in activities which you’re passionate about.

These are all legitimate reasons to travel and going on an adventure abroad is one of the surest ways to achieve these goals. However, it’s not the only way.

When you’re craving a trip, it’s not the travel in itself that you desire, but the opportunity for exploring the unknown, personal development, improving mental health, and finding purpose.

Use your time in lockdown to satisfy these needs and you’ll overcome your wanderlust until you’re able to travel once again. Here’s a guide offering tips to help you make the most of your time in lockdown.

1. Discover New Things by Exploring the Unknown

Stuck inside, volunteers staying in Botswana use their leisure time to read

The great explorers trekked to the North Pole, sailed the Atlantic, and uncovered ancient civilisations. This has created an image of exploration that involves physically going outside. In this digital world, however, there’s much to be discovered from your own home.

To discover new things from home, you can:

  • Read books: these could be travel diaries, fantasy novels, or just about anything! Whatever you read, you’ll have access to an exciting new world. Explore the continent of Africa in Dark Star Safari or have a humorous trip around Europe in Neither Here Nor There. Dust off your old Kindle, re-subscribe to Audible, and start exploring the unknown once more.
  • Watch documentaries: factual films are experiencing a boom in popularity with Netflix releasing beautiful travel and wildlife documentaries such as Our Planet and Dark Tourist. There’s biographies, true crime, and backstage access with your favourite band. No matter what you want to explore, there’s probably a documentary allowing you to do so.
  • Research on the internet: Memes and social media are so distracting that we sometimes forget that the internet is an archive of all of human knowledge. Spend a couple hours on The Fact Site or enjoy Wikipedia’s List of list of lists. There’s no excuse to be bored with this calibre of online content.

2. Dedicate Your Free time to Self-Improvement

Female volunteer doing Muay Thai boxing as self-improvement

As a keen wanderer, you probably know that travel can be hard. You have to overcome culture shock and navigate an unfamiliar environment where you don’t know the language or how anything works. Even the basics of where to sleep and what to eat become a challenge, but it’s these challenges that make travel so worthwhile.

Travel can increase your self-confidence, give you a new perspective on different cultures, as well as help you become more knowledgeable. To get the same benefits from lockdown, why not:

  • Start a new exercise: Working out has much the same benefits as travelling. It builds confidence and releases dopamine, instantly boosting your mood. With the outside world not available, however, you may have to get creative. Check out these 10 minute home workouts for a quick exercise session! When it comes to trying to become a wiser, calmer, and happier person, though, no exercise is as beneficial as yoga.
  • Learn new skills: If you’re working from home or hoping to return to work once the lockdown ends, why not create a more impressive CV? Websites like Udemy and Skillshare offer short online courses, so you can upscale your skills or learn new ones from scratch. Or try National Geographic’s free conservation courses if you’re hoping to become a wildlife volunteer. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even earn a whole degree online with the Open University.
  • Give yourself challenges: Travellers love a challenge and it’s a great method of personal development. Maybe you want to cook the best possible Sunday roast or build a beautiful bookshelf. You could try taking only cold showers or giving up meat. There’s an endless list of challenges you can attempt to overcome without leaving the house, and each one offers a sense of achievement that your mind craves.

3. How to Improve Mental Health from Lockdown

Volunteers in Peru do Yoga and meditation to boost mental wellbeing

It’s estimated that 25% of British people experience mental health concerns each year and there’s no doubt that being stuck at home can worsen this. With little social interaction, a lack of fresh air, and the creeping boredom and loneliness of isolation, mental health should be your top priority.

To overcome negative emotions and avoid self-isolation depression, try to:

  • Meditate daily: If you’re feeling heightened levels of stress or anxiety, then meditation is essential. Often in these times, it can be tempting to book a trip and do anything to escape your mental rut. But did you know that 15 minutes of meditation is as beneficial as a day spent on holiday? This is great news for people on lockdown! Download an app like Calm or Headspace and get working on boosting your mental health.
  • Keep relationships alive: Relationships with others are at the core of happiness. This is why travel can be so amazing: it’s a way to meet and form deep relationships with others through shared experiences. So don’t neglect your relationships while on lockdown. Spend more time with the people you live with, and FaceTime or Skype with friends you met while travelling. With modern technology, loved ones are always there to support you when things get tough.
  • Consider online therapy: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a practice used by many people, regardless of whether they have any diagnosed mental health conditions. You can use this for yourself to ensure positive thought patterns and behaviour, no matter how tough your current situation. Therapists can be found over the internet and will offer psychological guidance remotely. Just be sure to carefully check the reputation, suitability, and legitimacy of any online therapist.

4. Finding Yourself in Your Own Home

A senior resident in Cochabamba receives a manicure during a community day

It’s a common assumption that you must lose yourself in order to find yourself; that somehow your life purpose lies somewhere overseas and you have to go and discover it. The pursuit of meaning that’s achieved through travel is in itself a meaningful pursuit. However, you can still find a purpose from the comfort of your own home.

To find yourself in your own home, you can:

  • Make a positive impact: During the Coronavirus pandemic, the best aspects of local communities were unveiled. Within a day, more than half a million Brits signed up to volunteer for the NHS. Images of people singing, dancing, and befriending neighbours surfaced online. If you were planning to volunteer, but can no longer travel, consider online virtual volunteering or finding other ways to help from home. Maybe you can drop off supplies to an elderly neighbour, or give them your phone number so the self-isolating have someone to talk to. This is a great way to apply the lessons you learnt as a volunteer abroad to your local community.
  • Discover your passion: Purpose comes from doing things you’re truly passionate about. Maybe this is writing, playing guitar, or building a business. You have a unique opportunity to try as many things as possible and explore your interests in depth. Once you’ve found your passion, the deep sense of purpose can keep you going through the hardest times.
  • Make meaningful travel plans: Just because you’re locked down, you don’t have to stop dreaming. Use this time to plan all the adventures you want to have in the future. Travel companies are more flexible than ever and you have extra time to save funds, so don’t be afraid to book if you can. You also have time to prepare for a truly authentic adventure, so start a cultural awareness course, learn the local language on Duolingo, and decide how you’ll make your next trip the most meaningful and purpose-driven adventure yet.

For nomads and wanderers, travel runs deep in the veins. It’s a lifestyle that provides meaning and purpose to a person’s life. However, it’s important to remember that there will be times where you have to remain static. Whether in full lockdown or not, learn to get the benefits of travel from your own home.

Read our update on how we're dealing with the impact of Coronavirus on travel and safety.

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