What to do if your holiday is cancelled: 8 travel-inspired tasks to get you through self-isolation

From editing old photos to making plans for future trips, now is a great time to get travel-smart

What to do if your holiday is cancelled: 7 travel-inspired tasks to get you through self-isolation
(Image credit: Getty)

So you’re stuck at home for the foreseeable future. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide until at least mid-April, and in any case, the COVID-19 pandemic means international borders could close with little warning and recent arrivals quarantined. None of us are going to be doing much travel for a while.

So how to get your travel fix? Here are some creative ways to make use of some extra time that will help you take stock, pre-plan future trips and get yourself fit for travel when the travel bans are eventually lifted. And, boy, is there going to be a rush for the airports when they open; if one thing is for sure about COVID-19 it’s that we’re all going to need a holiday when it’s over. 

So here are seven travel-inspired tasks to get your through self-isolation

1. Edit and organise your travel photos

Saw it, shot it from 20 different angles, forgot about it! We’ve all come back from landmark trips away with smartphones and SD cards stuffed with gigabytes of photos. We all intended to process them, post some to Instagram and Facebook, then delete the rest. 

We did none of those things. Perhaps now – for the first time – you actually have time to go through your photos. Firstly, you need to delete the stuff that you don’t want, actively ignoring your intuition to keep photos “just in case”. Prioritise sharpness, and only keep one angle of the same subject. Now touch-up and crop your photos using Photoshop/Lightroom/Gimp/iPhoto … and don’t be afraid of ‘auto-enhance’ options. 

Now put them in folders on a computer and/or drag them into Google Photos, which will create a backed-up, online, access-from-anywhere archive. Now share your best ones using the handy hashtag #ThrowbackThursday. 

2. Binge a travel documentary on Netflix or Disney+

Streaming services are perfect for the stay-at-home era we now find ourselves in, but while they may be most famous for their millions of hours of films and multiple seasons of TV, you can just as easily binge-watch a travel documentary. 

Netflix has some great travel-centric content to inspire future trips, such as Street Food, Dark Tourist, Restaurants on the Edge, The Kindness Diaries and Ugly Delicious. However, pride of place goes to Pedal The World, Felix Starck’s documentary about his 18,000-kilometer journey across 22 countries in one year.

Or you could sign up to Disney+, which, as well as having a massive catalogue of Disney films to keep your children entertained, has a whole host of National Geographic programmes for travel-inspo.

(Image credit: Getty)

3. Order take-away food from a country you’ve never visited

Always fancied a trip to Japan, but never got beyond sushi? Or are you planning a few weeks island-hopping in Greece feasting on… what do they eat, just Greek salads? If you, like a lot of travellers, travel to eat the local food, why not investigate a new cuisine first by using TripAdvisor’s International Food Near Me, checking-out that country's national dish and then getting hold of your local restaurant’s menu. 

That way you’ll get to learn (and taste) something new while simultaneously helping out a local business that’s struggling since the government warned the public to avoid restaurants. Restaurants and pubs will be able to operate as takeaway and delivery businesses immediately under emergency measures unveiled by the government.

4. Book a cheap flight

The airline industry is on its knees, and there’s a good chance a lot of airlines might go bankrupt before things get back to normal. Desperate for income, some airlines are now promoting flash sales for future flights, and/or unveiling their schedules a lot earlier than usual. For example, Easyjet has launched its winter schedule early so that if you have an existing booking with that airline you can now change to a flight for travel up until February 2021. 

However, it’s also put seats on sale at or below £29.99 one way per person for all flights between 25th October 2020 and 28th February 2021. Supporting an airline at this time is a good thing, but only take advantage of these offers if you can afford to lose the money if the airline goes out of business. 

5. Learn a language

If you're stuck at home this could be a great chance to learn a new language. Sure, most Brits are famously terrible at learning foreign languages, but mastering the basics of a language spoken in one of your dream destinations can be done at home. 

There are some great apps out there that each have different approaches, from matching photos to phrases, and listen-and-repeat, to games and chatbots. The best language learning apps include Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Memrise and TripLingo

(Image credit: Getty)

6. Read classic travel books

You need inspiration? Or just want to be whisked away to another time and place? Considering what’s going on right now, investing your time and imagination in some classic travel literature is a great idea. So who to read? You could start by finding fiction about or relating to particular destinations using the brilliant TripFiction

For bona fide classic travelogues, try Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands, Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar or Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia, while those dreaming of a roadtrip across the USA should consider Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley or Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Peruse some curated lists – My Favourite Travel Book, 26 Classic Travel Books You Should Have In Your Collection and The 87 Greatest Travel Books of All Time – but know that if you need cheering up then anything by Bill Bryson should do it. 

7. Watch a travel-themed movie to inspire you

Film locations often go unnoticed, but in some films where they’re actually filmed plays a critical role. For example, it was 1989’s Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that brought so much fame to the rock-hewn facade of Petra in Jordan

For the ultimate introduction of Iceland, Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty from 2013 is a must-watch, while 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited will get you researching how to explore India by train

Then, of course, there’s almost any James Bond film… 

8. Read a magazine

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Get 5 issues of T3 magazine for just £5 – digital edition
To help you get through the self-isolation periods, we're offering 5 issues of T3 magazine for just £5 when you subscribe to our digital edition – it's available to read on Android, iPhone and iPad (with a special custom-designed version for iPad). You'll get in-depth features about the best gadgets you've never heard of, news of the greatest tech coming this year, and real-world reviews of the latest releases. T3 magazine is fill of things you didn't know you needed to know, all in a beautiful and easy-to-digest design.View Deal

Read thousands of magazines for just £4.99!
Readly is like Netflix for magazines, giving you over 4,800 different titles to read – including T3 magazine – for just £4.99 for your first month (£8.99 per month after). You can read on desktop, phone or tablet, and it's packed with big names: Women's Health, GQ, Delicious, Good Housekeeping, The Week, BBC Gardener's World, and so many more. If you're going to need to while away the hours at home, what could be better than having your own personal library of top magazines?View Deal