The Armchair Backpacker

Quite regularly I see posts on Facebook of people in exciting, faraway places, doing exciting and unforgettable things, whilst I am stuck in the UK staring at the rain outside my window. I know that I’m not alone in this. It is quite easy to end up feeling miserable, and like everyone’s life is better than your own. Or you could feel resentful of those who can afford/have the time to do what they like, whilst you are stuck doing whatever you are doing. I guess all those emotions are natural, and I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Instead, why not channel your energy into doing something positive, which also links to your desire to travel?

1) Learn a language

Whether you are great at languages and already have a couple under your belt, or you were useless at languages at school, you can’t deny that it is useful to learn a foreign language. As we are continually being told by the university careers centre, more and more employers desire multi-lingual candidates. Plus, if you ever do go somewhere, it’s polite to learn a few words – even if it’s just please and thank you. Language classes are available in a range of locations nationwide, or you can learn from the comfort of your own home using a book or computer software, whatever takes your fancy. Learning a language is a great skill to have, and you never know when it might come in useful.

2) Cook recipes from around the world

For a student, I have a surprisingly good and varied diet. I actually can’t remember the last time I had pizza which, believe me, is saying something compared to some people I know. However, I still get bored when something becomes a regular meal, and so like to try something different. Recently, I cooked a Moroccan-style cous-cous dish for my housemates. I also cook risotto more than I used to, and like experimenting by adding different things. Most ingredients are pretty easy to get hold of, so choose a country for inspiration, pick a dish to prepare and get cooking! Even better, why not hold a dinner party and have a themed evening? That way your friends can get in on the fun too!

3) Watch a foreign film

I know some people do this quite regularly, and as such this isn’t really out of the ordinary, but if you don’t – try watching a foreign film. I know a lot of people get put off by the subtitles, but if you are entertained enough by the film then they shouldn’t distract you. One of my favourite films is La Vita È Bella (Life is Beautiful) which is a very touching story set in Italy during the Second World War.

Learn about the places you can go when you have the means to get there...

Learn about the places you can go when you have the means to get there…

4) Read your way around the world

I am a big fan of the Lonely Planet books, and as such there is no easier way to get around the world than to flick through/read some of these. The World contains information about every single country – allowing you to dream and plan away to your heart’s content. It means you will also be able to converse with your lucky friends when they return from their travels about the places they have been as you might actually know where they are on about! The Travel Book similarly works its way around the world, and offers a reading suggestion on each page in order to get under the skin of each country. Perfect, if you are a bookworm like me!

5) Plan a micro-adventure

There’s nothing worse than seeing all the exciting things other people are doing, and then having no stories of your own to exchange when they return. It doesn’t have to be big, or expensive, but try going somewhere you have never been for a daytrip and really make the most of your local area. Last summer I knew someone who went to Central America, and was then jealous when I said I had been to Howard Castle in North Yorkshire! I knew I wanted to go, and made sure I did, and whilst I may not have experienced a new culture or wonderful weather, I still had a great time!

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