So you’ve had travel plans cancelled, you can’t leave the house unless it’s for essentials so you’re left sitting on the sofa feeling helpless. But there are loads of ways you can still explore the world from inside your own four walls.
Books are designed to transport us to another world and when you can’t leave home, what better way to escape? While you could enjoy a literary trip to Narnia, Hobbiton or Hogwarts, there are plenty of books available about the very world we live in. You don’t just have to read travel guides to discover new countries and in fact, I’ve found that the best way to read about a different country is by reading books by local authors, be they fiction or non-fiction. Some international authors I have discovered on my travels have included Italian writer Italo Calvino and Moroccan author Mohamed Choukri but there are so many out there that no doubt you can find someone you like.
See our best book recommendations in Explore the World From Your Sofa Part 2.
Film and TV
If you don’t feel up to committing yourself to a book then slump on the sofa and see what the world of TV and cinema has to offer in the way of transporting you far from home. You don’t just have to watch something that shows a country but also maybe watch TV and movies produced in a different country to your own. Maybe you could catch Jack Whitehall’s Travels With My Father (a personal favourite), watch some anime like those of Studio Ghibli which were recently put on Netflix or enjoy a drama set elsewhere in time and space such as ITV’s The Durrells.
There are so many ways to explore your favourite places digitally during this crazy time. You could learn more about Van Gogh with a tour through Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, hang out with some awesome animals at San Diego Zoo with their live feeds or stand on the roof of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome with Google Street View. You can also watch travel vlogs, read travel blogs or listen to travel-related podcasts (some of which you can read and listen to from this website!).
See our best virtual tour recommendations in Explore the World From Your Sofa (again) Part 1.
Most of the music we consume is Western and even then it’s usually from the States, Canada, the UK or Australia. But there is so much more on offer out there than that. Why not sit back and listen to music from Vietnam, Costa Rica or Bulgaria? Not sure where to start? Well, Spotify has 62 playlists which collect the current Top 50 songs for each country. While many still feature Western music, there are still so many new tracks to discover!
Have a hankering for Chinese, Vietnamese or other world food? Well get your apron on and start cooking! Lockdown has brought out the baker and chef in many so why not set yourself the task of cooking your favourite international meal from scratch at home. There are so many websites out there tooting recipes for the best versions of your favourite takeaway so why not pick the one you fancy, gather the ingredients you safely can and get cooking.
See our best recipe recommendations in Explore the World From Your Sofa Part 3.
While you may not be able to get on a plane or sail off into the sunset at the moment, you can always get planning your next trip. There are so many resources online to help you plan your dream trip. Start thinking about the one place you’ve always wanted to go and spend your time stuck inside, planning it. Obviously, at the moment the end to current international travel restrictions is unclear but you have plenty of time to daydream, scour the internet and make some amazing plans for when you can next escape. You might even have time to start learning the local language!
If you fancy going all out why not combine a few and create a day or evening themed around a country you’ve visited or one you’d like to! Make some traditional dishes for dinner, listen to local music while eating and finish off by watching a film from that country – now that sounds like an awesome night ‘in’.
Hayley Butler, with contributions from Ashleigh Ridler