6 Ways You Can Travel From Home This Summer
Did COVID-19 postpone or cancel your summer travel or study abroad plans? As someone who had 2020 branded as her ‘Year of Travel” for the past 3 years—I feel you. When or if international travel will return to “normal” is undetermined as of yet.
But, life goes on! So instead of dwelling on what could have been, here are some ideas on how to keep your travel spirit of mind alive while at home.
1.) Decorate your space.
If you’re indoors all day for something reason, be sure to surround yourself with images of you traveling in the past, where you want to go in the future, and things you’d like to manifest into your life.
Printed off your favorite Instagram travel photos and pin them up, or change the background of your computer and your cellphone. Your bedroom, your office, your kitchen.
Inundate yourself with inspiration, positive memories, colorful photos, quotes, and everything else travels related that puts you in that global state of mind.
2. Adventure, virtually!
Go on Google Flights (ah, these cheap prices!) and pretend to book something.
Now go on Airbnb or Booking.com and decide where you want to stay. The budget is no worry because this is, of course, imaginary.
Sip some wine, close your eyes, put on a “grass” or “summer breeze” candle, and imagine yourself exploring that city, going back to that stunning Airbnb with a jacuzzi and a view, and planning for the future.
3.) Explore locally… distantly.
While international travel might be one huge question mark, it’s no question that American cities are slowly beginning to dip their toes into reopening (some, more quickly than others…)
When your region’s lock-down orders are lifting, try to find ways to see your local community in a new light. Drive through that neighbor with beautiful houses you can't afford. Drive through the wilderness with a friend or family member, take a socially distanced sunset hike.
No matter where you live, there’s a high chance you haven’t seen every there is to see within walking or driving distance of you. Look into it!
4.) Become part of your bucket list—start your own Airbnb experience!
If you’re the #1 expert on everything about your home town, a certain topic, or you have an extraordinary, teachable skill—share it with the world! Invite people from across the globe into your passions and your home via an interactive online experience.
It will help you feel like you’re traveling because you can consistently be meeting new people, asking people what interests them about your destination or topic, researching, and most importantly, entertaining and connecting with beautiful cultures and personalities. And of course, the best part is actually making money doing this! Win, win!
5.) Create the ambiance in your own home!
Flights to Paris might be on pause, but you can bring a little je ne sais quoi into your own home with a little creativity and planning.
Create an ambiance for whatever country you’re trying to embody. For a Latin night in Puerto Rico turn on some salsa music, make some homemade salsa and guacamole, and YouTube some dance moves. For a night in Paris create your own charcuterie board, try a new wine, and watch Amelie.
I highly suggest checking out the tourism board’s website for whichever country you’re trying to channel, because now more than ever they’ll have exciting, education, virtual resources available to you.
6.) Join online travel communities
If you’re seriously short on time and funds you can get your travel fix completely online! Join one of the many travel Facebook groups, follow some awesome travel bloggers on Instagram, and join in on #TravelTuesday Twitter threads. Just get involved in the travel talk!
This way when you finally are free to travel as you want you’ll be chock full of ideas and maybe have some new travel buds.
How some endangered species are benefiting from reduced human activity
There are more endangered species now than ever before in modern history. According to the 2019 IPBES report, one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction—many within decades, thanks to unsustainable human activity. Thanks to new regulations amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, some endangered animals are benefiting from reduced human activity. Due to a lack of travel, there’s been a reduction of carbon emissions and pollution around the globe. Seismologists have also reported lower vibrations from “cultural noise”. These factors create safer environments for endangered species. “It’s too soon to tell if specific endangered species have experienced a real rebound in terms of overall population numbers due to shifts in human activity. We’ll only be able to tell this over time. The species taking advantage of things like stay at home orders generally are not endangered species, but rather wildlife that already coexists with humans,” says Rolf Skar, Greenpeace USA Deputy Campaigns Director. While the long-term impact of reduced human activity amid COVID-19 on endangered species is unknown, there have been a few examples of behavioral changes and the introduction of legislation that may benefit certain animals. Sea turtles in Thailand Vulnerable leatherback sea turtles are coming ashore to lay eggs on the beaches in the typically overrun tourist destination Phuket, Thailand. Leatherbacks were classified as protected species under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act in 1992 and were elevated to the more critical status of preserved in 2019. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Thailand has seen the largest number of nests of leatherback sea turtles in two decades. Sharks in Indonesia There are 470 known shark species, 25 of which are listed as endangered. In Indonesia, endangered sharks are benefitting from the cessation of the fishing industry due to COVID-19. Indonesia has the world’s highest diversity of sharks including endangered scalloped hammerhead, sawfish, whale shark, oceanic white-tip shark, and the vulnerable bigeye thresher shark. West Nusa Tenggara, the leader of the country’s shark fishing industry, reported a 68 percent trade drop in the first quarter of 2020. Pangolins in China Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal which has made them endangered. There are four types of the species in Asia, three are endangered and one is critically endangered. After the outbreak of COVID-19, China banned the trade and consumption of pangolins for food on February 24th which resulted in wild animal markets across the country being shut down. It’s too soon to measure the impact the ban will have on pangolins but it’s likely they’ll be less threatened by humans due to the new legislation. Bees in The United Kingdom The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists 16 species of bees as vulnerable, 18 as endangered, and 9 as critically endangered globally. Bees in the United Kingdom are benefitting from the reduction of grass being mowed in public and private landscaping areas resulting in more wildflowers blooming which is great for pollinators such as bees. Lions in South Africa Kruger National Park has been closed since March 25th and vulnerable lions are enjoying the empty park and reduction of human activity by lazing around on paved roads. Kruger Park's Skukuza Golf Course has also been a hotspot for lion hangouts. Kruger National Park continues to monitor security, emergency services, and wildlife crime operations to protect species within the park such as lions. COVID-19 Isn’t a respite for all endangered species The benefit of reduced human activity isn’t evenly distributed across the animal kingdom. Many rely on humans for protection, conservation, and preservation. At African wildlife reserves, many endangered animals such as elephants and rhinos are at-risk without having rangers to protect them from poachers. Governments are focused on public health thus leaving gaps in law enforcement in protected areas. To continue to protect endangered species you can pick up trash and dispose of it properly on daily walks if they’re allowed in your area. Never buy anything made from an endangered species such as coral, ivory, and turtle shell products. Tweet your representatives about the importance of the Endangered Species Act when bills are being considered that may negatively impact local fauna. Educate yourself by taking a complimentary online National Geographic Exploring Conservation course on ocean conservation, illegal wildlife trade, and more. Skar recommends advocating for bans against the trade of endangered species and wildlife and for stricter enforcement of the bans.
Editor's note: helping you Rediscover America during a global pandemic
Just like so many of you, 2020 has been quite a wild ride for me. In February, I was handed over the reins to Budget Travel as its Publisher. At the beginning of March, a tornado hit my neighborhood in East Nashville. Then the COVID-19 pandemic largely wiped out the travel industry’s immediate future (and ad budgets). It truly would not surprise me if next week, the alien invasion sent us all back to phase 1. 2020 is a crazy ride. East Nashville after tornadoes hit on March 2, 2020. Photo by Laura Brown As the Publisher of a travel magazine during a global pandemic, I’ve been wrestling with this moral question: how can we ethically promote travel at this strange moment in history? We’ve gone to great lengths to answer this question. We’ve had a full team researching and extrapolating the ways COVID is affecting travel. We’ve reached out to local tourism boards for their recommendations. We’ve polled you, Budget Travel’s readers, to understand how your travel has been affected by the pandemic (the answer: a lot). And many of us have road-tripped across the Southeast to see it all for ourselves. We’ve been writing all summer. I am proud to announce that this week, Budget Travel is launching ‘Rediscover America,’ a content series that will focus entirely on how Americans can safely explore this beautiful country of ours. We’ll focus on road trips and amazing getaways you can drive to in all parts of the country, and promote activities that can be done while maintaining adequate social distancing. We will share travel deals that can be booked flexibly into 2021. We will adhere to CDC guidelines and advocate for wearing masks. Most importantly, we’ll remain flexible to adapt to new information and circumstances. If we work hard enough as a society, there may come a time in the future when we can all relax a bit. Until then, our commitment to promoting safe travel is not up for debate. Keep checking Budgetravel.com for fresh inspiration, and let us help you Rediscover America.
What a sustainable restart to travel could look like
Once the COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions end, I know I’m absolutely raring to start traveling again. But one of the things that many of us are coming to realise is just how fragile the world we love to explore is, and how important it is to be good stewards of it while we do so. There’s a whole industry out there for ecologically friendly holidays, and that’s great. But beyond the eco-yurt – although we do love a good eco-yurt – there are choices that we can all make to reduce our contributions to climate change when we start traveling again. Many older aircraft won't return to the skies © imagean / Getty Images / iStockphotoNewer aircraft with lower emissions For most travelers flying to their destination, the airline journey will be the largest part of their environmental footprint. That’s not just because of the emissions produced, but also because they’re released at higher altitudes, which amplifies their effect. Newer aircraft like the Airbus A350, A320neo or A220, or the Boeing 787, have an emissions footprint about a quarter lower than the jets they replace. With COVID-19’s drop in the demand for travel, many of those older aircraft have been retired and won’t return to the skies, and we’ll be flying on those newer and more efficient aircraft. Look out for the newer aircraft when booking – although the kind of aircraft you’ll actually travel on is never guaranteed – and, if none are available, contact your airline to make your views known. Beyond that, you can make a number of individual choices to minimise your personal environmental impact on the plane: bringing food with you, selecting vegetarian or vegan meals on board, and packing as light as possible, for example. Night trains are having a comeback, particularly in Europe © Laborant / ShutterstockMore lower-carbon travel options In many parts of the world, there are great alternatives to air travel for short-haul or even medium-haul travel. These aren’t just lower-impact, they’re often more fun and provide a fascinating slice-of-life view en route. The growing numbers of high-speed rail networks in many regions, as well as their city-center-to-city-center networks, make them a superb option – even for passengers who might previously have jetted between multiple destinations in a single trip. Night trains, too, are having a comeback, as more and more travelers discover how convenient, cost-effective and time-saving a way to travel they are. Keep your eyes peeled for more and more of these being introduced, especially in Europe. But of course it’s often complicated to find, plan and book trips that include rail rather than air travel, and takes, time, effort, and resources. Fortunately new tools and guides are coming online all the time. Much better rail integration One of the areas where a bit more coordination effort is needed is in getting rail networks in particular to play better with each other and with other forms of transportation. An example: if you buy an airline ticket with connecting flights, the airline is (by and large) responsible for making sure that you make your connection or are rebooked free of charge to the next flight, and provided with accommodation if an overnight stay is required as a result. This is known as a “protected connection”. Protected connections are very rarely available in rail travel. Apart from the CIV rules covering international tickets within Europe, which allow for next-train travel if your previous train is late, it can be very complicated and there’s no guarantee space will be available. It’s not just rail-to-rail connections that need work, either. Rail-to-air tickets are growing in availability, but these will usually have a clause stating that the airline isn’t responsible if the rail part of your trip is delayed. Lufthansa’s Rail&Fly service, in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn, states: “Every passenger is responsible for arriving at the airport in good time. Lufthansa accepts no responsibility for missed flights due to the delayed arrival of a bus or train.” Overall, the travel industry really needs to start making it easier for travelers to make more sustainable choices. Several large cities are working to be bike-friendly, but more can be done © canadastock / ShutterstockBetter walking and biking options It’s been fantastic to see so many cities and towns boosting their cycling and walking facilities to help people get around during the coronavirus crisis. The trick with this when traveling, though, is access to cycling in particular as part of an integrated travel network. Making short-term and medium-term cycle rentals available to travelers is often complicated, and without wanting to get into the perennial debate about helmet requirements, making them accessible to those travelers who would like them is not yet mainstream. Some larger cities’ bike-share schemes are a great start, but there’s much for accommodation providers to do here as well. That’s especially true for hotels, which are in a great position to reduce their guests’ environmental impact, whether they decide to create their own bike provisions or partner with a local company to take care of the details. Booking sites too, can do more to flag up these choices or offer them as filters. Travel is important: it broadens the mind, exposes us to new ways of life and new parts of our shared world, and can be a vital part of global development. More than ever, though, it’s crucial to make travel more conscious and more sustainable.
10 things to do if you're celebrating the holidays alone
**If you or anyone you know is planning on traveling to meet with family this season, be sure to check out the CDC guidelines for holiday gatherings.** This year, there are two sides of the holiday spirit: getting creative and doing more and people who aren't doing much at all. Some families can get together. Maybe they have to go without their elderly relatives. Maybe they can't meet at all. Some people will be entirely alone, and others will find themselves experiencing the season with people they usually wouldn't -- like their roommates. Regardless of who you might be spending the holidays with, we are all feeling a little bit alone. Here’s what you can do to feel a little closer to family and friends while staying #togetherapart.©Ray Laskowitz/Lonely PlanetMake homemade holiday cards: While the holiday card industry has stabilized over the last couple of years, sending the family photo for Christmas isn't as popular among younger families. But this year, it could make you feel more connected. For those of you with a big contact list, printing traditional cards is a great idea. Get creative with the photo section (since you won't necessarily get the family photo op). Maybe you ask everyone to send a goofy selfie card via snail mail that can be put in the tree or decorate the mantle. Start a new project: It's probably true that the majority of us experienced some sort of shift in perspective. Now is an important time to invest in yourself and what you want. This doesn't have to be big. You can start an indoor herb garden, pick up knitting, design your dream island in Animal Crossing. Or you can do something you've always wanted to do, like write that book or build that new shed. The point is to spend more time on you without a lot of pressure. There was this huge wave of "look at all this time I have. How much can I do with it?" mentality at the beginning of quarantine that falls back into the fast capitalist crux. Take it slow to give yourself distractions and time to process what is actually happening. Set the mood with your zoom background: Friends and family are opting for virtual holidays this year if they can’t make the journey or don't want to risk their elderly loved ones' health. Just because you might be miles apart doesn't mean it can't be festive. If you're decorating your physical space to make you feel in the mood offline, make sure that you decorate behind your designated zoom space. Put up the tree or string some lights. Get creative at placement and assortment of items. If you want to take this one step further or sillier, find online zoom backgrounds that reflect some crazy ski destination or look like you are in Santa's workshop. Dress up like you haven't gone out in 6 months: Regardless of whether or not you are getting together with many people or if it's just your roommates and the dog, make it a worthy occasion. You will have at least one memory that looked different than the rest. Online shopping soared since stay-at-home orders started. There's bound to be a new outfit in that closet of yours you bought for the next time you go out. Well, why not now? Coordinate with anyone in your house or plan to send the pictures to. Secret Santa: Send small gifts to your friends and family who live farther away via snail mail; make surprise drop-offs for anyone who lives close. Maybe it's not so secret, but receiving the gifts will still put smiles on everyone's faces. Good, mailable ideas include books, jewelry, paint by numbers, or care packages. This is also a good idea if money is a little tighter this year. If you have a secret Santa group, you only need to buy for one person, but everyone gets treated. Make sure to set a mail-by deadline, so everyone is receiving them at relatively the same time. Then be sure to do a zoom gift unwrapping to revel in the spirit a little longer. Watch Grey's Anatomy: A lot of people are still loyal fans and watch every season. Others have come in and out, but right now the doctors we trust are handling life in real-time. They thought long and hard about whether they wanted to touch COVID this season, but they realized they were always meant to show us real people and real truths. This pandemic has changed the way doctors live, think, breathe, and be a doctor. They decided to pay them tribute with a real but still approachable look at what today means. This season is supposed to have lots of twists and turns to keep on a little light of escapism while still offering some truth. Online volunteering with the UN: Nope! This didn't start with COVID-19. The UN employs 12,000 online volunteers a year to tackle some of their most pressing issues (gender equality, poverty, climate change, etc.) across 187 countries. On the volunteering homepage, you can navigate opportunities by skill set. They look for artists, writers, educators, and so much more. Becoming a registered volunteer only takes a couple of minutes and is a great way to make some good happen out of our not so typical holiday. Remember, the season has always been about giving back. Now you can do it from the comfort of your own home. ©New Africa/ShutterstockGet creative with the cocktails: Going out for drinks with your friends and family kind of feels like a thing of the past right now. If you're like us, and you're missing the delicious bartender (we mean drink) and want to spice up your kitchen bar, get creative with cocktails. There's a website that will tell you what kind of cocktails you can make based on the ingredients in your kitchen. Check it out. Since it's the holidays, why don't you try a spiked apple cider with a cinnamon stick inside? Or maybe a plum sangria for your roommates. The possibilities are endless. Drive-thru lights show: This one seems like an easy given. Light shows are always a staple for the holiday season. Bonus -- they're usually outside. This year, the only thing you have to worry about is how crowded it is, but many activities regulate the amount of people let in at a time. If you still don't want to take the risk, grab some hot chocolate, hop in the car, listen to holiday music and drive around the neighborhood. See who is doing lights. You can see who is doing more than usual or less. The ones who aren't doing a lot this year might go on your secret Santa hit list! Ignore it all together: Honestly, it's 2020. You can do whatever you friggin' please. This will (hopefully) be the only year you can call "pandemic" as an excuse to get out of Thanksgiving dinner with relatives you don't ever get along with. Order take out instead. Grab a glass of wine. And go watch a movie.