Keep your love for travel alive in self-isolation
Not being able to visit international destinations at this time can be a real bummer, but that's no cause to let your bucket list dreams die
I recently saw a post on social media depicting actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean, enquiring where the next holiday destination would be: the living room or the bedroom. While it was a welcome moment of light-heartedness from a relentless stream of coronavirus updates, it also struck me with a dose of reality.
"Are we giving up on travel?" I asked myself with a jolt. I am sure this is a question many others sitting in isolation around the world are asking too.
The current pandemic has struck a big blow to the life we are used to in the 21st century. This includes travelling for business and leisure, both inside and outside the country. Lockdowns, closure of borders, cancellation of flights, visa suspensions, and news of various airlines and tour operators potentially shutting shop have made the future of travel uncertain for sure.
Despite this unfavourable environment, as an avid traveller, when I am asked if we will travel again, my answer remains unchanged: we most certainly will.
The world of travel, in my opinion, isn't dead - just in a stage of induced coma at the moment. Once the situation normalises, people with itchy feet are bound to want to hit the road or take to the skies again.
I say this because travel, since time immemorial, has remained an essential human desire; over time, it has only changed its mission. While for Emperor Alexander, the goal of travelling was to conquer the world, for seafarer Columbus, it was to discover new shores, while for explorers like Marco Polo and David Livingstone, it was to unveil the mysteries of our planet. For the modern generation, our travel goals encompass a multitude of reasons: sightseeing, uniting with nature, revitalising oneself, shopping, and more.
None of these cravings are going to die anytime soon, so it's only a question of when we'll be able to start again.
Till then, here is a list of things you can do to keep your love for travel alive - even while reclining on an armchair.
Read travel themed books
"That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet," wrote celebrated author Jhumpa Lahiri in her book Namesake. She speaks truth. So, get your hands on books by eminent travel writers such as Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, Ernest Hemingway, Amitav Ghosh, William Dalrymple and Pico Iyer. These are but a few names from an otherwise long list.
Watch movies that are bound to give you the travel bug
Several movies can do the job of transporting you somewhere beautiful and exciting, such as Eat, Pray, Love, which showcases Italy, India and Bali; Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, that wanders around lively Rajasthan in India; Gladiator, that journeys to historic Rome; and Out of Africa, if wildlife is of interest.
Make sure not to miss out on Bengali film Shonar Kella, a thriller masterpiece by legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray that has immortalised the famous Golden Fortress of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan on the big screen.
Watch travel documentaries
Not to be missed are the ones created by legendary television broadcaster, writer and naturalist Sir Richard Attenborough. Some of his highly acclaimed ones are the nine-part Life on Earth series, Planet Earth, Blue Planet and the very popular Great Barrier Reef.
Prepare a bucket list
This can be the best time to cultivate a bucket list for future travel. The entire family can take an active interest in this. While developing this, reference can be made to books like 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz and Lonely Planet's The 500 Best Places on the Planet.
Videos of almost every destination in the world can be found online. Watching some them will provide familiarity with the place and bestow useful information of what has to be seen and experienced when travelling there. When watching, keep a note of everything seen on screen as a memory jogger for later.
Join an online photography course
These days, taking photos have become an integral part of travel. It's worth going through a guided path online to better understand the camera and how to take improved shots, particularly during adverse conditions like when light is limited or the object is moving.
Play travel games with family
When I was a kid, my dad introduced me to this quiz - naming the capitals of various countries. Playing this game regularly over time improved my knowledge of geography and inspired me to travel to more than 100 countries, the names of some I might not have known were it not for this game. I suggest keeping an atlas or globe handy when playing this.
Learn a new language
This can be the best time to learn a foreign language, like Spanish, that will come in handy, not only in Spain, but also when wandering around Spanish-speaking countries in South and Central America. Refer to a site like Duolingo (www.duolingo.com), which is easy to use and free.