Holidays may be temporarily on hold, but planning magical trips is still possible, says Sarah Marshall
Spontaneity shapes thrilling travel escapades, but there's also a case for careful, methodical planning. Often, the preparation - deciding on a route, reading up about a destination - can be just as enjoyable as the trip itself.
Global movements may have ground to a halt, but thoughts can still roam freely. So use these gifted moments to fantasise about the future, plot epic adventures and set goals to realise lifelong travel dreams.
Here are five life-affirming adventures, with tips for using lockdown to prepare.
Make winter tracks across Siberia
Watching the world unfurl whilst trundling along train tracks is the epitome of slow, nostalgic travel. Long distance railway journeys provide an opportunity to discover the lay of a land in detail, often accessing off-grid areas and communities - all done from the comfort of a hotel-on-wheels.
The Trans-Siberian is intrepid at the best of times, but a winter departure pushes boundaries even further. Crossing snowy steppes, mountain ranges and eight times zones, the sumptuous Golden Eagle will cover 10,000km, pulled by various steam locomotives.
Visit one of most remote towns in Siberia, sizzle in a traditional Russian sauna (known as a banya), discover the Kremlin Fortress in Kazan and dog sled across the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal, frozen solid at this time of year.
How to prepare: It's not the easiest language to master, but try learning a bit of Russian lingo before you depart. Download lessons from online educational resource Babbel (uk.babble.com), designed to arm students with essential and useful phrases using speech recognition for pronunciation. Access for three months costs £20.99.
Form family bonds on a South African safari
Anyone remotely interested in wildlife should do an African safari at least once in their lives. Chances are you'll want to go back again and again. Reassuringly malaria-free, South Africa is a good choice for families, and prices are much more reasonable too.
Highly intelligent and credited for their strong social bonds, elephants are a favourite to observe in the wild. Expect to see plenty at Addo Main Camp, on the fringes of Addo Elephant National Park on the Cape, close to Port Elizabeth.
Hailed as excellent for children, the collection of caravans, tents, chalets and rondavels have access to cooking facilities, a swimming pool, bird hide and floodlit watering hole where animals come to drink at night. Visitors can explore in their own vehicles without a guide (keeping down costs), although the camp also offers 4WD safaris.
How to prepare: Get a taste of what's in store by tuning into a virtual safari online. Everyday at 5am and 2.30pm, safari operator &Beyond present WILDwatch game drives through the Ngala and Djuma Private Game Reserves in South Africa's Sabi Sands. Join them on Instagram (@andBeyondTravel), Facebook or YouTube (andBeyond Travel), and interact with guides through Twitter using #wildearth, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The first 45 minutes of each afternoon drive is reserved for questions from children.
Hike through Nepal's Himalayan valleys
After weeks of being cooped up inside with views restricted to a 2km radius, the idea of walking for days through ever-changing scenery sounds like pure bliss.
The Himalayas present some of the best trekking opportunities on our planet, and although epic Everest is for serious pros, a much more manageable option is the Annapurna Sanctuary, a glacial basin surrounded by mountains.
Regarded as one of the best routes for acclimatisation in Nepal, the natural amphitheatre is revered for its unique plant and animal life, and worshipped as a residence for Hindu and Buddhist deities. Hike through towering forests, sleep in traditional teahouses and watch the sunrise over glistening, cloud-piercing peaks. Join an escorted tour to enjoy the full benefits of a local guide, and the fulfilment of completing a challenge as a group.
How to prepare: Use lockdown to get in shape and ready your body for walking up to eight hours a day at altitudes of up to 4,000m. Along with long walks, try cycling and light jogging during your government-allocated exercise hour. Try working out with a backpack so you can get used to carrying a load. It's recommended to start training three to six months in advance of a trip.
Discover the big blue in Egypt or Indonesia
Nature has been one of the few beneficiaries of lockdown: skies are bluer, birdsong is louder and fish stocks are recovering as trawlers are forced to rest. Very soon the seas will be even more colourful and active, making a dive holiday a top priority to book.
The Red Sea is an affordable and accessible option; Egypt's Sharm El Sheikh resort on the Sinai Peninsula is ideally located to explore dazzling Ras Mohammed National Park. Further afield, Indonesian archipelago Raja Ampat is the epicentre of the Coral Triangle, the most biodiverse marine environment on earth.
How to prepare: The Open Water course has both theory and practical elements. No one wants to be sat in a classroom when the sun is blazing and underwater art galleries are beckoning, so maximise dive time by doing the theory element of the Open Water course at home. PADI (padi.com) offer the Open Water Theory eLearning from £96.41.
Savour wilderness with the kids in Scotland
If isolation has sparked a fondness for back-to-basics living, consider a camping trip for your next family getaway; considerably cheaper than staying in a hotel or cottage, a holiday under canvas is a practical option all round and proof dreams can be realised closer to home.
Scenery, solitude and sheer space make Scotland ripe for adventure. Steps away from the beach, Runach Arainn on the Isle of Arran is a three-yurt glamping site adorned with creature comforts; Wheems Organic Farm on Orkney has a mixture of yurts, sheepskin-lined bothies and meadows for tent pitching available.
True boy scouts and girl guides might consider wild camping. Thanks to the 2003 Land Reform Act, it's possible to pitch a tent on most unenclosed land (although byelaws do apply to East Loch Lomond).
How to prepare: Alleviate cabin fever by camping with the kids in your back garden; it'll give them a taste for outdoor life while you have a chance to practise putting up a tent. Complete the experience by cooking inventive meals over a campfire. Download a free collection of recipes from blog Campingwithstyle.co.uk.
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