With the COVID-19 restrictions now well and truly in place, many of us are now confined to our homes.
How on Earth do we cope with the urge to travel or even get in the travel mood for the future when it’s not safe to travel right now?
There are several things we can do, and the great thing is we can do them as families and involve the grandchildren if they are at home via video-calls!
Learn the language
The enjoyment factor of your whole holiday experience can be multiplied tenfold if you can speak a few words of the language. You don’t have to be fluent, as the very fact that you are seen to be trying makes the locals happy, and as result you often get extra service and preferential treatment!
Simple things such as ‘hello’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are often very important as is ‘I would like’ as opposed to ‘I want.’
Many websites, including the BBC, are perfect for learning stock phrases. Apps like Duolingo are ideal to learn a language while on the go.
Short 20-minute sessions are best, so no one gets bored. If the grandchildren are learning that language at school, it’s even more fun!
Do your research
Half the joy of traveling is the preparation and planning what you would like to see when you get there.
You can download brochures from the tour operator websites so the whole family can look at them at once. Or, if you prefer, you can go down the traditional route of having paper copies sent to you by post.
Do also get some guidebooks such as those produced by Lonely Planet which give you information about little gems and a lot of out-of-the way places and information others don’t. The Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel series are superb; they have 3D town maps, helpful phrases and all sorts of very useful information.
Explore the area
YouTube is awash with destination videos, but do watch them first to ensure there’s nothing on there you wouldn’t want the children to see! Likewise, Google Maps can give you a street-view to get a good ‘virtual’ insight into the place.
Combine this with a traditional paper map that you can spread out over the table and hey-presto, you have your own board game! Why not time each other to find the cathedral, market or museum on the map you just saw on the video? A fun game to play as a family.
You could even go online and find out where you can get a bus or train to go that little bit further afield especially if you’ve learned how to say,” A return ticket to… Please.”
Of course, what this means is that when you get there you already have a feel for the place and it will be much easier to get around.
Food and drink
The local cuisine of your proposed destination is another wonderful part of your holiday experience. So, why not download some local recipes and have a family cook-in? Try an Italian night with different types of pasta or maybe a Spanish night with dishes of tapas made by each member of the family?
Then, of course, there is the enjoyable adult pastime of exploring a country’s drinking habits. Why not sit down as the Portuguese do on their way home from work, with a White Port and tonic, or treat yourself to some Belgian beers?