An untitled work by Marieka Jacob is one of the finalists in the National Photographic Portrait Prize. An untitled work by Marieka Jacob is one of the finalists in the National Photographic Portrait Prize.
Life Travel How to holiday at home – and love it Updated:

How to holiday at home – and love it

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Having a government bar us from travelling overseas, crossing state borders, or leaving home would have sounded like science fiction to most Australians just weeks ago. Now it is reality, our nation of inveterate travellers is grounded.

While that means we’ll stop travelling for now, it doesn’t mean we’ll stop loving travel. These armchair travel ideas help transport you to where you’d rather be in these troubled times.

1. Self improve

Plant a vegie patch, learn a skill or musical instrument through online classes and courses, take an online Pilates or dance class.

You can learn to do a lot of things by watching YouTube. But you can also go upmarket: learn guitar from Carlos Santana, film making from Ron Howard, interior design from Kelly Wearstler, tennis from Serena Williams, cooking from Thomas Keller, scientific thinking from Neil deGrasse Tyson, using Masterclass, an unlimited pass to its 80-plus classes is $280 a year.

2. Travel vicariously

Watch movies that transport you somewhere beautiful and exciting. The Trip, with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon eating their way around England, will make you hungry and make you laugh (follow-ups set in Italy and Spain are gorgeous to look at but lack the same zing). Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is a love letter to the city.

There are uplifting options like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and thought-provoking ones like Wild, and Into the Wild.

Some make you laugh, like Sideways, set in California wine country. Revisit classics like Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant (French Riviera).

Other favourites: Out of Africa (Kenya), Amelie (Paris), comedy/drama In Bruges, or any of Woody Allen’s adoring windows into New York life. And there are viscerally distracting thrillers like the James Bond movies (try Spectre’s Mexico City opening) or any of the Jason Bourne movies.

There are plenty, too, free on the small screen, like the ABC’s long-running Doc Martin series, set in postcard-pretty Port Isaac, Cornwall.

3. Plan a trip

Now’s the time to invest in future trips by plotting your route, researching your destination and planning the perfect holiday. Most libraries are closed but have e-book lending to members.

Lonely Planet’s excellent guides are available as e-books and e-chapters through its online shop. Several local bookstores are also home-delivering phone orders.

4. Read all about it

Fact or fiction, reading about travel can be transporting, too. I’m going to catch up on some I’ve missed, perhaps Alex Garland’s The Beach, about a backpacker’s search for seaside perfection, and The Salt Path, about walking in Cornwall.

Anything by Jan Morris, Bill Bryson or Eric Newby is worth reading. For romance, try Under the Tuscan Sun; for intrigue in North Africa, The Sheltering Sky; for friendship and fascinating history, The Island of Sea Women; for daydreaming, Peter Mayle’s books about Provence; for a compelling story and a visceral sense of nature, Where the Crawdads Sing.

5. Take a virtual tour

Fans of slow travel TV, like SBS’s series, will find plenty to savour in the incredible one-take five hour, 19-minute video tour of St Petersburg’s Hermitage museum, taking in 588 works in 45 galleries, from Rembrandts to the Winter Palace’s regal Jordan Staircase, with performances.

Other online-friendly museums include the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, and the National Gallery of Victoria, with its virtual tour of the Collecting Comme exhibition.

You can even ‘attend’ a concert: And Canberra’s National Portrait Gallery’s Photographic Portrait Prize finalists and winners are all up online. You can also vote for your favourite.

6. Go see one of the world’s greatest bands

Musicians around the world are following Coldplay’s Chris Martin by creating mini video concerts under the YouTube hashtag #TogetherAtHome, from wherever they’re self-isolating.

The Arts Centre Melbourne is streaming and archiving some performances, like Exposing Edith, a cabaret about the legendary French singer, while it remains closed to the public.

7. Eat Greek. Or Italian, or Vietnamese

You can’t eat in Trastevere or TriBeCa at the moment, but many great Australian restaurants are doing take away or home delivery in order to stay in business.

In Melbourne, Australia’s most highly rated restaurant, Attica, is drawing on its world-famous dishes for takeaway and home delivery, from $60 to $95 for two. You can order wine or a cocktail, too.

To keep up with the latest, see goodfood.com.au; timeout.com; delicious.com.au or simply call your local and ask if they’re doing pickup or delivery.

8. House swap

Make your house feel like somewhere new. Rearrange the furniture or rooms, especially to take in a different view.

Eat dinner out in the garden or in another room, swap bedrooms within the guidelines for what’s healthy now.

9. Learn a language for when you do go

Sure, you mightn’t be able to master one in a month or two, but you’ll certainly get travel-ready using a site like Duolingo, which is entertaining, easy to use and free.

It offers 30-plus languages, everything from Swahili to Klingon.