The past few days have been rather scary. Mask-covered faces. Queues to wash hands in public toilets. Sanitizers constantly out of stock. Accusatory looks towards anyone coughing or sneezing. Eerily empty hotels, flights and streets following the lockdown travel advice for Coronavirus. Places that were once plagued by overtourism are now deserted. The spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus has suddenly brought all usual life – and travel – to a halt.
Until a week or two ago, the panic felt rooted in social media, whatsapp forwards and even racial profiling. At that time, I posted on Instagram that I would continue my travels. But in light of recent developments, I’ve archived that post, cancelled some rather exciting travel plans until April and urged everyone to do the same.
I was scheduled to conduct a workshop on responsible tourism marketing in Madhya Pradesh and speak at the prestigious Economic Times Women’s Forum this month – but both events have been cancelled.
In fact, India has cancelled all visas for foreigners till mid April. Sri Lanka has suspended its e-visa facility. Italy is under lock down. Public events have been cancelled in most parts of the world. Schools and colleges have been shut in most Indian states. India’s travel advice for coronavirus is to cancel all non-essential travel abroad. Indians returning from China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain, Germany, Malaysia, Nepal and even the US can potentially be sent to 14 days of quarantine!
Chances are, you already know that. You, like me, have cancelled your immediate travel plans. And probably you, like me, are wondering what you can do now to indulge your wander-lusting soul!
Also read: Sustainable Living Ideas to Embrace as we Emerge Into a New “Normal”
Travel-related activities to do during lockdown
Here are some creative ideas to satiate your travel cravings – safely and responsibly – during this uncertain coronavirus period:
Read non-fiction books by local authors to virtually explore a new region or country
I’ve dreamt of setting foot in Tibet for a long time, knowing fully well that the Tibet of my dreams is off limits (or no longer exists). So a while ago, I did the next best thing to travelling in Tibet – reading a book that movingly explores its lost beauty, culture and way of life. Tibet With My Eyes Closed is a collection of short stories by Madhu Gurung, based on the lives of Tibetan refugees in India. Some stories moved me to tears, while others left me with an insatiable longing. I can’t recommend it enough!
My point is, as per official travel advice for coronavirus, the entire world is off limits right now. But we can do the next best thing – travel to our dream places through the words and insights of people who know them deeply.
If you dream of Iran, for instance, read Reading Lolita In Tehran. If you dream of Myanmar, read From The Land Of Green Ghosts. If you dream of the Caucasus (Georgia / Azerbaijan), read Ali And Nino.
For more book recommendations, see my favorite (unusual) travel books by local authors around the world. If you’re keen to explore the world from my lens, you can also get a copy of my travel memoir, The Shooting Star 😉
Also read: What No One Tells You About Writing and Publishing a Book in India
Learn a new language that will make a future trip more meaningful
Everywhere I travel, I try to pick up a few words in the local language. But in the weeks before I travelled to Japan, I tried to listen to one episode of a Japanese language podcast every day. By the time I landed in Tokyo, I was able to say many basic phrases in Japanese – which sure made it easier to make friends, find local vegan food and even get some unusual recommendations.
The process of learning a language can certainly make us feel like we’re almost on our way somewhere. The Survival Phrases podcast is good for conversational skills and the Babbel / Duolingo apps can help with basics. But if you really want to commit, consider signing up with an online teacher for one-to-one Skype lessons on a site like italki (I haven’t used it yet but heard good things).
I took Urdu writing lessons last year, but have been terrible at keeping up with what I learnt. I’ve pledged to practice a bit everyday now!
Also read: Unusual Solo Travel Destinations to Feed Your Adventurous Spirit
Document your past adventures
I still have tons of untold stories from my travels over the years. If you’re a travel writer, blogger, photographer, Instagrammer or any kind of storyteller, you’re probably full of stories too – and always wishing for more time to be able to tell them. Or perhaps you have a special interest in architecture, vegan food, wildlife, languages or something else – and you could combine that with your past travels to create unique stories.
All travel advice for Coronovirus suggests not going on a physical journey. But we can still journey into the recesses of our minds, relive some of our adventures and share them with the world. After all, we could all use a little break from the negative news out there!
Also read: How I’m Funding my Adventures Around the World Through Travel Blogging
Binge watch the wonders of our planet
Many of us travel to witness the breathtaking beauty of nature and the cultural wonders of the world. Unfortunately both are fast disappearing.
Video streaming sites online are full of films and documentaries about our incredible planet, wildlife, remote cultures and more. Now is a good time to plug into them, both to feed our wanderlust and to remind ourselves what we stand to lose. Maybe the travel advice for coronavirus and this time away from the road, work, school, college and social gatherings can be a time to reflect on how we need to make better life and travel choices to collectively help the planet.
I’ve been meaning to finish watching One Strange Rock on Netflix, which explains the wonders of earth from the fascinating perspectives of astronauts. And start Our Planet, which documents the impact of climate change on the world’s most remote and vulnerable regions.
Also read: Tajikistan: A Country That’s Not on Your Travel Radar, But Should Be.
Support small responsible travel businesses virtually
As you can probably imagine, this is one of the worst times for the travel industry. March, otherwise peak travel season for many places around the world, has been a month of cancellations. April might go the same way, though I really hope not. Small business owners, family-run homestays, social enterprises and responsible tourism businesses will be some of the worst hit this year.
All travel advice for coronavirus suggests we can’t physically travel this month to support them or the work they do for local communities and environment conservation. But despite the wanderlust travel restrictions, small gestures can go a long way. Leave them a heartfelt review on Google Reviews / TripAdvisor. Mention them on Instagram / Twitter. Recommend them to family and friends for future trips. When the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, they’ll need our tourism money the most. Let’s make sure they’re found, remembered and supported then!
Also read: Offbeat, Incredible and Sustainable – These Travel Companies are Changing the Way You Experience India
Work on your storytelling
Perhaps experimenting with writing, blogging, photography or videos has been on your mind for a long time. Or you still need to perfect some skills. I know I need to get better at editing videos. I could use some professional photography help, but my heart is only half in it. I still have a ton of SEO work to do on this blog. And there’s no end to becoming a better writer.
Here’s a silver lining for the wanderlust coronavirus edition: Use the time you would’ve spent travelling or socializing, to work on something that might enable you to travel or work on the go in the future!
Also read: Advice for the Young and Penniless Who Want to Travel
International travel is out. But should you travel domestically now?
Many of you have reached out to ask for my travel advice for coronavirus with respect to domestic travel in India (and elsewhere). I think it’s a bad idea. For several reasons:
- It’s just not fun. I felt an inexplicable anxiety during the last two days of my recent Chhattisgarh trip. Hearing someone cough sent a shiver down my spine. The last thing I wanted was to have to put myself in self-isolation in someone’s homestay or in a soulless hotel. Or worse, be quarantined in a government facility.
- The fear of carrying the virus to a remote part of India. The idea of travelling from urban India – where the majority of coronavirus cases are (in Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Kochi etc) – to rural India is a scary one. Imagine if we have the virus but the symptoms haven’t yet shown up. We could be carrying it to small villages where medical facilities are rare and self-isolation is difficult because entire families live in a single room. It’ll be mayhem.
- The fear of infecting people more vulnerable to the virus. People over 60 and those with respiratory issues seem to be the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. We can’t risk being the vectors infecting them.
- Flights, buses and trains can be coronavirus hotbeds. Given how infectious the coronavirus seems to be, being stuck among scores of people in a closed environment is a big no-no.
It’s best to postpone all international and domestic travel atleast until April (maybe longer, depending on how things turn out). We need to avoid busy places, public transport and any physical contact. We must constantly wash and sanitise our hands. And if we have even the mildest symptoms of fever, cough, cold or flu, we absolutely must stay at home and follow official protocols!
When it’s safe and responsible to travel again, I promise to be back with tips on travelling post lockdown. Until then, indulge your wanderlust at home.
Are you missing travelling in lockdown? How has coronavirus affected your travel plans? If you run a travel business, what’s it been like for you?
What’s the future of travel blogging when nobody’s travelling (aka the life of travel bloggers during covid)
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Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.
Good creative ideas for spending this time more meaningfully 👍.
Thanks for sharing.
Glad you found them useful, Faud!
Great post! And make sure you watch Our Planet…it’s fantastic!
I’m still not finding the time to do that, with everything else I’ve been wanting to do 😉 But will make it happen soon.
Nice ideas Shivya..Corona virus have affected our business very badly. All booking till first week of April stands cancelled. Unfortunately due to the pressure of our neighbours and authorities we had to refuse accommodation to a couple from UK last week. It was sad to see their situation, they managed to travel to Mysore and got accommodation there. I have my tickets booked for Delhi on April 27, to travel to Uttarakhand with my son, but now I am a bit sceptical about our travel plans.
Sorry to hear that Sunil. This is a difficult time to be part of the travel industry, but I really hope this will pass soon. Glad you’re home now and keeping safe.
I am soooo thankful I returned a month ago after four months of travel
That’s good timing! Glad you’re safe!
Some sound advice – We were going away for four days using our own caravan but the family is so nervous about this so perhaps this is the time to make that e- book and I will walk to the beach. Not very good at being cooped up!
I hear you. How’s the e-book coming along and what’s it about? Hope the beach is isolated enough and beautiful. I miss beaches!
Sounds amazing! Thanks for the creative ideas!
Using this time creatively is the only way to make it through!
Very good ideas and advice. It’s really sad that the coronavirus has caused so much disruption around the world and to pretty much every part of life, including traveling. As hard as it is, the responsible thing is, as you point out, to stop traveling, especially overseas. I hope that India can continue to contain the coronavirus as it seems you guys don’t have that many cases now.
We’re in a 21 day lockdown now. Unprecedented times. But hoping against hope that we’re able to contain this. Stay safe!
Yeah, that’s a tough step to take but necessary given how bad it is in other countries. Hope you get through it ok and stay safe.
We’re currently in a 28 day lockdown now, with a high possibility of extension to a 42 day one! I watch my colleagues working at the frontlines everyday, and they still work with no complaints despite exhaustion… Proud of Malaysian healthcare workers!
I’ve written a blogpost the behind the scenes of a hospital and how healthcare personnel are human, too.
Great post! Shared!
Sounds amazing ❤️ Thank you for Sharing ideas
Hope they’ll help some of us get through these difficult times!
Thank you for the ideas! ❤️
Happy to share. Helps me stay positive too 😉
really loved going through your post and ideas 👍!!
Excellent post, with lots of good ideas. But I’d be a bit wary of talking about travelling again in April. The virus in the USA is going to peak in at least a month, if not more. I live in Rome (Italy) and am not sure I’ll be allowed into the States in June for my scheduled writing course…
Really hope things ease out by then. Can’t wait for this to be behind us soon, and experience the world with newfound admiration!
Scary times. You did a great job covering it. But there are opportunities here.
I wrote about them recently. Got to make the most out of what we are dealt. Everything has trade offs, some more immediate.
Thanks for sharing!
Yes, we need to look at the silver lining, however hard that is to find.
Great ideas ! I feel like the safest option is to stay at home for a while, being healthy is a privilege that we should not take for granted. Please everyone stay safe 🙏
Totally agree Lola.
Thanks for providing alternative ways!!
Hope they help!
Amazing article! I love your writing.
Aww thank you!
Great Post indeed! My only concerns however are whether African economies are strong enough to withstand a total lockdown.
I know India’s is definitely not strong enough, and now we’re in a 21 day lockdown. This will have far reaching consequences, but for now, really hope we’re all able to contain the virus.
Wonderful! Thanks for this Post!
Great list of things to do. I think I’ll pick that script I started writing almost 10 years ago. Maybe I can finally achieve that. Then I done more than 14hrs a day on coronavirus duties due to the nature of my job. Sitting on my bed tired now. Lol!
Take care! Would be amazing if you get back to that script now.
Great post and good advise to follow. I will certainly look up the books you recommend too.
Awesome. I’ll be curious to hear what you end up reading!
Can’t agree more Shivya. I was due to travel to Arunachal Pradesh, Uzbekistan, Kerala, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Australia from next week till May this year but all those plans are cancelled now.
I will be focusing on documenting my travels over the coming days when in home isolation. I’ve travelled far and wide but never really bothered to document them, which I feel I’ll do now. Thanks for your advice and lovely article 🙂
Hopefully this will be behind us soon and the world will open to our restless souls again.
All the best heading down memory lane as you document your adventures!
Thanks for creative ideas👍😉
I have watched this “Wanderlust” stuff for a long time. Would it not be better to curb this a bit or drastically reduce it, doing something positive for our earth? You don’t have to travel every year, one – two – three times. What about every 2 to 4 years? Maybe the Corvid19 is a turning point?
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Thomas. Personally, I think travelling meaningfully opens up our minds and hearts to so much more than staying at home. Travelling in a way that is positive for the earth is really important though, and makes all the difference.
Really great ideas! And there’s no better time than now to re-discover old hobbies 🙂
I guess we should not panic right now and be practical. Travel should definitely be postponed unless it is necessary. It is a good time to write, document, and plan for the future. Every event brings in opportunity. It is all about how you look at it. Right, Shivya?
Exactly. Let’s make the best of what we have.
Informative…wts interesting is that you can explore so much through what you have ….books, virtual tours and online material.. though it may nt b d same bt something s better than nothing
Sometimes it can be even more meaningful than actually being out there.
Beautifully written and shared.
Nice post. I think the current scenario is both a curse and a boon. My situation is mixed.
It’s a boon for nature, no doubt.
Great ideas.. Thanku.. Will start watching “the strange rock” today itself
Awesome, let me know how you find it.
Some great ideas here. Thanks for putting this together!
What is the risk of my child becoming sick with COVID-19?
Please see this resource by the CDC to know how to protect your family and children: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children.html
Oh my god ma’am!! I’m such a huge fan of yours and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with you ideas and writing!!
Aww thanks Sanchi!
Thanks for the great ideas! Will share with my communities!
Thanks Shivya for the great ideas of satisfying ones appetite of indulging in tourist activities by opting for virtual tourism through reading great travel experiences and online surfing of great destinations .One can also plan travels to future destinations once the outbreak of Corona is stalled and eliminated.Keep putting up such informative ideas as these for everyones benefit pl.
That’s definitely a good idea. I wouldn’t plan anything concrete yet, but researching (and dreaming) about future travels can certainly keep us positive.
Those are some wonderful ideas and suggestions! I only hope that people understand the importance of social distancing.
For sure Reema, so important to keep creating awareness and reminding people.
Totally love those ideas. I feel most of the things mentioned fits into what I have been really wanting to do in the past months. Thank you for making me realize those stuffs 😉
Happy this was a reminder for you, Sarah! What are you starting off with now?
At the moment, I’m glad that I’m done submitting my report for my day job and I can now concentrate on compiling my travels a year ago as most of my friends wanted me to publish it in my blog because those where mostly amazing tourist destinations in my country… Of course I was inspired by what you said on your blog 🤩☺️
Thank you , Shiva for the great ideas. I have been watching You Tube travel videos for the longest time and will continue to do so. I got back from a trip to Las Vegas and San Francisco March 4. The president put a ban on International travel into the United States , but so far nothing domestically as far as I know. I have a trip to Washington DC in May and in June my annual trip to Vegas and Los Angeles , God willing . Not sure this year. As I am 67 years old and with serious health issues , this virus isn’t helping. As a travel and sports blogger, these times are difficult , but we will get through this .
Hang in there, and please stay home and stay safe till this is behind us. We’ll get through this. Btw, any youtube channels you really recommend for travel content. I haven’t found any yet that I really dig.
Nice ideas 🌸 namaste
Totally agree with you sweetie, now is time to brush up my Spanish! Unfortunately, coronavirus is affecting us a lot here in the UK. At the moment it looks like out trip to Barbados and Dominica in the Caribbean in April will be cancelled, not sure about Denmark in April.
Todo bien? 😉 Really hope this is behind us soon and the world returns to normal.
A very satisfying read. 👌
Glad to hear that 🙂
I absolutely LOVE your post! Thanks so much for sharing positive thoughts in such difficult times 👏🏻
Thanks Gaby! Positivity is so important for our mental health in these strange times.
Thanks for sharing your creative ideas.
Thanks for sharing. Great Post 👍❤️
yes these are truly very nice ideas.
Thanks for sharing with us.. 🙂 Every traveler must quarantine themselves.
Very interesting read! Reminded me to use Duolingo everyday for at least ten minutes
Great. Now I need to get back to doing that too 😉
This is very insightful! I always think its a must to learn about a place you are going before you get there – it just seems polite 😊
Indeed – and in our busy lives, we don’t always have the time. Well, now we do!
Silver linings and all that
Yep. This virus is also preventing me from going back to Spain because of the lockdown. Risking 14 days quarantine sounds horrible. I prefer to stay where I am til it’s over.
Loving your advices. Most of them is what I’m doing to pass day to day the fun way 😄
Good call. I really hope this will end soon. Stay safe and positive!
Yes, i really hope so. Stay safe, healthy and positive 😆
Great ideas! Easy to do with all family 🙂
The ideas 💡 given by you are literally works here.. Hatts off 👍
Thanks Prasad; quite overwhelmed by the feedback so far.
I appreciate the creative strategies. They definitely will come in handy during this crazy time.
Sure hope so! We need to keep busy so time doesn’t just crawl along.
Hello Sir, I’m Christian, from Indonesia, right now I can feel like you felt because of COVID-19. Thank you for your ideas, now on I can know what I want to do. 🙂
I think you forgot one way to travel at home – psychedelics. No just kidding 😆. That was a great post with lots of substance! Thanks for sharing.
Haha, whatever works 😉
I was talking about this with my friends yesterday! 😅
Crazy times indeed.
Staying at home is the smartest decision at this time. Thank you for your ideas and take care 😀 I really like your blog
Thanks Tvan, glad you like my little space on the internet 🙂 Yeap, staying home and staying positive is the best we can do right now – and that too is a privilege.
Great post! Love the book recommendations! I’ve been crushing some serious paper in the last week or two, so I’ll check these out! 🙂
Thanks Emily! And awesome, curious to hear what you end up reading.
Good things. I guess the saving grace of one’s own travel blog is good memories and sensations are captured in the precious blog.
It seems so long ago, but no..how much the world is changing now. 🙁 I’m so glad I’ve seen what I’ve seen so far. And travelling some of it by bike. I am wistful now..
Been feeling wistful too, Jean. And yes, so much gratitude for what I’ve already seen and experienced. Hope this is behind us soon though!
This is a very good post, with good ideas! I do have a million photos from past holidays that I could go through, edit and post somewhere, hahaha!
I’m not a traveler like you, but I do enjoy traveling during my holiday. Thanks for the tips!
And stay safe!
I know a lot of travel bloggers are saying their stats are suffering during this time; but I think I’m MORE into looking at travel blogs and Pinterest accounts! I had to cancel 3 trips this year but seeing travel posts still keep me hopeful!
Thank you for such an interesting post 🥰
Great post, great ideas! Thanks for sharing, and stay safe 🤗
Great work! Never thought of these ideas. Keep it up 👍🏽
Beautiful write up and interesting ideas you have got. Your page is nice . Keep it up.
Thoughtful..will try picking up on a language.
Very refreshing to read this. Personally, I’m spending my downtime trying to better myself (writing everyday, reading new books and finding quality blogs to enjoy like yours). It’s hard to stay home but I know the better we can self-quarantine, the faster we can get back to a semblance of normal. Thanks for the encouraging post! ありがとうございます！気を付けて下さい！
Wonderful article and great ideas!
Love this post! So true we can still experience travel through books and online sources for now. We can make a list of all of those places we have longed to go to for when all this is over. Thanks you for a very uplifting read x
Great post ✌
Great ideas. Due to this virus travelling has stopped these ideas will surely help.
loved the tips & ideas.
A lot of inspiration there!! Keep up the good work and stay safe.
Thank you! This will be really helpful to soothe down that craving to explore by going out.
This was a really great read; thank you. So many creative ideas to travel virtually while stuck at home. I’ve been meaning to learn another language for ages (we speak 3 at home) and your post has made me think: ‘what am I waiting for?’
Loving your positive mindset, very practical and very refreshing. Couldn’t agree more, I’ve been learning a language, blogging about past travel trips and finding the time to do all the other things that usually get sidelined. Great to hear you’re keeping your spirits up 🙂
Gurveena, A Girl Who Can’t Sit Still x
I was planning for a Rajasthan Solo trip as i haven’t travelled alone and wanted to do it so badly after my graduation but here we are all stuck.But it has fortunately detoxicated the whole planet for good.
Wow I just discovered your page and loved it! This post is what drew me to it, but your personal blog about you inspired me. I love that you stay in a place as long as possible before moving on, I tend to do the same.I am passionate about being more eco-friendly in my travels, and I think volunteer work or more rural communities helps achieve this!
I look forward to hearing more of your travels, and cant wait for this to be over so we can get out there and meet amazing people and have incredible experiences!
You can chain me and torture me but you cannot imprison my mind – m k Gandhi
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Great post! Thanks for sharing.