Perhaps the hardest part of this lockdown for many of us is the loss of our travel plans for the foreseeable future. If, like me, this is the case for you, take a minute to realise how lucky you are. It can help to remember how much of a privilege it is to have the opportunity to travel and to live in a country that (outside of lockdown) has excellent transport connections to the rest of the world.
That said, you are, of course, allowed to be disappointed. I know I am. Thankfully I had nothing booked for the next few months, but I know a lot of you did. I had, however, hoped to spend a few weeks travelling around Europe again this summer, something that is now looking increasingly unlikely, and not just because of my bank balance.
Given the less-than-ideal situation, there are some ways for us travellers to deal with the inevitable desire to travel in lockdown. The first of these is to write. You’ve (probably) been travelling before, so write about your past experiences. Got any good travel stories or advice you wish you’d known? Share it with the Internet. I can say from experience, even if the internet isn’t listening, just getting your ideas down and sharing them can help you feel a bit less alone, and hopefully relieve some of that quarantine wanderlust.
Another thing that I find helps me when I’m stuck at home is watching travel filmmakers on YouTube. If you like traditional travel vlogs, Iz Harris makes some of the best travel videos with some incredible drone footage. Perhaps, like me you like trains, mountains, and weird and obscure historical stuff, in which case the Tim Traveller is perfect. For comprehensive travel guides and beautiful visuals from some of the worlds most-visited cities, Attaché is a great choice. You might just discover the next destination to add to your ever-growing bucket list.
This brings me to the thing I’ve been doing most, which is to plan my next trips. As someone who finds almost as much satisfaction in the planning of a trip as the travel itself, I’ve wasted more time than I’d like to admit on Google Flights and Airbnb. This can be a great way to kill time until we’re free from quarantine. While I like to have free time to explore a new city without every minute scheduled, there are few things more satisfying than a perfectly planned itinerary to make those travel days go smoothly.
Something I’ve also been thinking about a lot, is how to reduce the carbon footprint of my travel. This is, of course, easier for some destinations than others, Amsterdam and Vienna are easier to reach without flying than Reykjavik or Hong Kong. But there are more options for flight free travel than you might expect if you’re willing to take a bit longer to get there. Hong Kong is accessible by train via Russia, and there are regular ferry services between Denmark and Iceland. These options are probably outside of the student budget, but for most destinations within Europe, you can find some great affordable low carbon options. Lockdown can offer a great opportunity to explore the different travel options that are available.
While the Eurostar is often quite expensive, it is possible to find affordable tickets by booking far in advance. A great alternative, especially from Norwich, is to get the train to Harwich then the ferry to Hook of Holland. You can travel overnight or during the day, and Stena Line offers an inclusive ticket with train travel at both ends of the journey. Once in Europe, train and coach travel are often competitive with flights, allowing for environmentally conscious travel even on a budget. If you’re planning on visiting a lot of countries, an Interrail pass might save you money, but this isn’t always the case, so make sure to research all the options.
This pandemic is difficult for everyone, but whether you use the time to reflect on the past or plan your next adventure, we will get through this and be able to travel again.