Travel during the COVID 19 pandemic is not easy or, at times, possible. The last time I left my house was towards the end of Feb 2020. I had gone on a short weekend trip to Chikmagalur with my friends. The day we got back to Bangalore, was day 1 of the first lockdown imposed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since then, I have been stuck at home because travel was a no-no in the beginning but risky in the later months.
There were other factors also that forced me to stay home but those are not important here. Then came 2021 and it was supposed to be a new hope. I was really hoping to restart my bike rides or even go trekking. But along with it came the second wave.
Now, as a traveller, I am almost about to go nuts because I haven’t been able to go anywhere for a year now. But it is not a situation I can do much about so the only alternative is to look for other ways to satisfy my curiosity and bide my time till I get to travel.
So, here is what I have been doing to kill time.
Watching a lot of YouTube
This is something that a lot of us may be doing but here is how I am using YouTube to kill time and soothe the uneasy traveller in me. Now I like to know about new places and especially those that are off the beaten path. So, I have been watching a lot of documentaries from this channel called Free Documentaries. Two types of videos that I particularly loved were the Deadliest Roads videos and the Most Dangerous Ways to School which was set in India (they have covered other countries in this series as well).
In the first series, the documentary shows the arduous journeys some people have to make just to cover a few hundred kilometres. They have covered places like the Congo, coal truckers in India, driving in Siberia and more. In the second series, they talk about what some kids have to do to get to school (travel-wise). The journeys are very fascinating and extremely dangerous! In the video on India, they covered the region of Leh that is host to the famous Chadar trek too.
I also stumbled across the channel of Lucas T Jhan who travels across various countries in a car and narrates the experience. His videos are long, but they are absolutely fascinating. He has covered countries like Canada, Estonia, Costa Rica, Botswana and more.
Here’s a tip on making it more immersive, don’t watch it on your laptop if you can help it. Watch it on your big screen tv or, better yet, use a projector.
Checking out sites that offer virtual tours
Since a lot of us are stuck in place, like me, I thought that it would be interesting to see if the world of 360-degree photography/videography has caught up with tourism. To investigate it, I started looking for sites that offer virtual tours and stumbled across these websites.
This is a site that has a lot of panoramic pictures from locations around the world. If you really want something to break the tedium, exploring this website can be quite interesting. Here is one example from this site. It is a panoramic view of the Rudabai Stepwell in the village of Adalaj, in Gujrat. There are also panoramic views of Champaner, an archaeological site near Vadodara, the Jagat Mandir in Dwarka and the Surya Kund in Modhera.
On this site, you can roam around Dubai and watch videos or explore the place through panoramic images. You have the option to either see the images from the ground or click on the helicopter icons to get an aerial view.
This is more of a personal thing where I keep looking up places I want to visit or states I want to visit and see what all I would go to see if I was there for a few days. I might even lookup the prices of hotels or just look up some hotels/homestays in a particular place to see what the options are. The idea being that once travel is safe once again, not just for me but for everyone, then I may have some trips just awaiting execution.
Take a working vacation
Lots of companies have made peace with the work from home strategy. The work gets done, they save on infrastructure costs, the employees don’t spend hours travelling to and from work; it’s a win-win situation. Now, since you can work from anywhere, why no try the mountains? COVID has also put the tourism industry in a huge bind. To help revive it there are some people who are offering deals on long stays and also offering facilities to ensure you can log in to the office.
They are known as Work From Mountains and you can find a whole list of properties and charges on their site. They have places to stay in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir. Their site also lets you know how much it would cost to stay there and what facilities will be available. They also let you know if the place is pet friendly (dogs and cats mostly) so you can take your fluffy companions with you. You can stay for a week, 2 weeks, a month or even longer.
None of this really beats actual travelling but it does work a bit to soothe the desire till we can start travelling again. If you are planning on taking up the last option, to work from another location, please be sure to do it ONLY when the situation is under control and not right now, when cases are increasing day by day. Travel during the COVID 19 pandemic could endanger your health, your family’s health or anyone else you come in contact with. For now, you can try the first three options. Trust me, it does help.