It’s a strange time to be a travel writer.
With most of us having cancelled travel plans, our focus has turned to things much closer to home, including the financial and personal safety of our loved ones. And yet, for many, the yearning for travel fails to abate. Travel is something to look forward to and forms a central component of our mental well-being.
With that in mind, and in the absence of international travel for the foreseeable future, this month I focus on some of the things you can do to scratch that travel itch in these strange, Covid-19 dominating, times.
If there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s that we’re all going to be deserving of a vacation at the end of the Covid-19 lock-down. Airlines, cruise lines, and hotels will be offering cut-price deals when the global travel restriction expires, and you should be ready to take advantage of the best of them at short notice.
With time to burn while you telework from home, now is the perfect time to start planning that next trip. There’s no better way to begin than by ordering some travel guides to spark inspiration.
The Take Photos Leave Footprints recommended guide brands are:
- Lonely Planet: Perhaps the best known of the big-brand guidebooks, Lonely Planet has earned its reputation as the go-to for budget travel.
- DK Eyewitness: In my opinion DK guidebooks are the best on the market for those seeking visual inspiration for trips to major world cities and countries.
- Fodor’s: If you’re planning a trip to Europe, and are hoping to visit the continent’s major landmarks, then look no further than Fodor’s; it’s what they’re best known for.
- Frommer’s: If you’re looking for a touch of luxury then Frommer’s produce the guidebooks for you.
- Rough Guides: As the name would suggest, Rough Guides offer inspiration for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure.
Travel hacking covers a range of activities designed to increase frequent flyer mileage collection and effectively utilize those miles to travel for free. For many, it can seem an over-complicated and time-consuming concept to put on the back-burner. But, with extra time on our hands thanks to Covid-19, now is the time to hone your travel hacking skills.
So, what steps might you consider to up your travel hacking game during the lock-down?
- Enroll in a Frequent Flyer Program: Selecting a frequent Flyer Program is the single most important travel hacking decision you’ll make, so ensure you familiarize yourself with the mileage earning and spending terms before making the decision. I’m a member of United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles. These two programs allow me to collect miles on flights operated by any of 45 global airline partners through just two loyalty programs cards. I can also collect miles through partner hotels, car rental companies and limited merchandise purchases.
- Sign up for a Credit Card: Co-Branded or Point-Earning credit cards such as the United Explorer Card, Delta Skymiles American Express Card, or the Capital One Venture Rewards Card typically offer great one-time mileage bonus rewards and the opportunity to earn miles for every dollar spent.
- Sign up to Rocketmiles (rocketmiles.com): Unlike traditional hotel bookings, where you might earn hotel loyalty points, Rocketmiles bookings allow you to choose a frequent flyer program through which to collect points for your hotel stays. It’s a great way to top up your mileage account on each business trip with minimal effort.
- Shop through online Portals: Even if you don’t sign up to a credit card you can still earn miles while shopping during the lock-down. Most major airlines host shopping portals through which you can earn miles for dollars spent. For example, the United Airlines Portal (shopping.mileageplus.com) earns miles for online shopping in over 900 stores.
As a travel writer and blogger nothing sparks my wanderlust more than browsing travel blogs and reading travel literature. Travel blogs offer up-to-the-minute insight, personal stories, and tips that formal guidebooks don’t offer. Travel literature often throws a completely new, thought-provoking, perspective on common travel destinations.
Other than Take Photos Leave Footprints, which I obviously recommend, here are some of my go-to blogs and books for you to check out during the Covid-19 lock-down:
- Never Ending Footsteps (neverendingfootsteps.com) follows the adventures, and misadventures, of Lauren Juliff, a phenomenal storyteller and persistently hapless world traveler.
- Expert Vagabond (expertvagabond.com) joins Matt Karsten, an adventure traveler, digital nomad, and photographer who’s been traveling the world non-stop for the last 9 years.
- Legal Nomads (legalnomads.com) tracks the adventures of former corporate attorney, Jodi Ettenberg, as she travels the world telling stories through food.
- Goats on The Road (goatsontheroad.com) follows Nick & Dariece, a Canadian couple who abandoned the 9-5 lifestyle for the road. Providing travel, financial, and occupational advice, Goats on The Road offers everything you need to embark on a true travel adventure.
- Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer: Despite being an epic personal account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, it was actually this book that inspired me to trek to Everest Base Camp in 2018.
- In A Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson: Bryson, possibly one of the most famous travel writers out there, travels across Australia by railway and car documenting his witty impressions of the culture down under.
- Turn Right at Machu Picchu: This New York Times Best Seller is a travel memoir that follows author, Mark Adams, as he recreates Hiram Bingham’s infamous original expedition to Machu Picchu in 1911.
- Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders: So not exactly a traditional literary masterpiece, but Atlas Obscura casts a light on some of the world’s most intriguing and curious destinations. The ultimate in bucket list wanderlust.
Covid-19 Binge Watching
Covid-19 has caused a spike in Netflix viewership that has led the world’s most popular video streaming provider to reduce its video quality in a number of countries; it is, after all, the second biggest contributor to internet traffic in the world.
But don’t let that stop you from using the huge repository of travel-related programming that the top streaming services have on offer to quench your travel thirst.
Here are the Take Photos Leave Footprints top travel shows on offer right now:
- Netflix: The travel documentary, “Travels with My Father” is presented by British comedian Jack Whitehall as he travels with his father through Asia (Season 1), Eastern Europe (Season 2) and the US (Season 3), offering two very different, and hilarious, perspectives as they go.
- Amazon Video: Purchased separately from the standard Amazon Prime membership, “An Idiot Abroad” follows the travel adventures of comedian Karl Pilkington. Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant the show’s four series offer the kind of deadpan, cringeworthy, comedy you’d expect of Gervais set against a backdrop of bucket list-worthy travel experiences and cultural landmarks.
- Hulu: “The Layover” follows host, Anthony Bourdain, on travel adventures across the US, Asia, and Europe with a specific focus on getting the most out of a city during a 24-48-hour layover. Tracking his adventures through food, culture and story, the series provides a unique take on the classic travel show genre.
- Disney+: “Lost Cities with Albert Lin” offers up something completely different to the more traditional travel documentary. Traveling to Israel, Colombia, Micronesia, Jordan, Peru, and the UK, Lin uses archelogy as the glue to explore some of the world’s most famous discoveries and legends.
What are you doing to stave off the Covid-19 travel itch? Comment below.