Staying close to home this summer? Here's how to have a great staycation

by Thin Lei Win | @thinink | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 27 May 2020 15:29 GMT

A social distancing notice is seen as a woman buys an ice cream in New Brighton, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), New Brighton, Britain, May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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Can a long, dull, stay-at-home summer be avoided this year? Yes, but you may need to be creative

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By Thin Lei Win

ROME, May 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Summer is just around the corner and cities from Bogota to London are easing restrictions on movement after weeks of coronavirus lockdowns. So should you stay (home) or should you go (on holiday)?

Flying is out of the question for many with temperature checks at airports and enforced quarantine on arrival, not to mention harmful carbon emissions caused by air travel. But can a long, dull, stay-at-home summer be avoided?

The short answer is yes but it may not be a holiday that you recognise.

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Here are a few ways to stick to social distancing measures and minimise carbon footprints while still having a much-needed break that could even save you money.

For culture vultures

Do your holidays involve admiring at old architecture, wandering around ancient ruins and sighing over famous artwork? You can now do all that without leaving home.

Google Arts & Culture has partnered with more than 2,500 museums and galleries so you can visit New York's Museum of Modern Art in the morning, Bogota's Museo Botero in the afternoon and end the day at Tokyo's Fuji Art Museum.

The Vatican and the Louvre have also opened their doors, so you can take all the time you want to enjoy the Sistine Chapel or Mona Lisa's smile.

Enterprising tour companies and booking engines have also started to offer interactive tours about the fountains that dot the Eternal City, street art in East London or the basics of Spanish guitar.

For travel-weary outdoor lovers

Summer and camping are synonymous, but if venturing far isn't an option for multiple reasons, how about camping in your own backyard?

All you need are a flat space in your yard, a tent, sleeping bags and a good internet connection to go on virtual safari tours in South Africa or watch live footage of gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sure, it won't be the same as waking up in the middle of a national park, far from the distractions of a busy city and with birds chirping around you. 

But you also won't have to worry about the amount of rations, blankets and games to bring to keep the weight of your backpack manageable, or be stuck in a tent if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Even better? A fully functional bathroom is just a few steps away. Use a brazier to add some authenticity and you can still have a barbecue for breakfast. No backyard? The living room, hallway or even a porch could work.

For foodies

If your holidays are guided by your stomach, what better way to eat well and learn a new skill through the myriad of free and paid-for cooking classes that have sprouted up like wild garlic plants?

For a monthly fee, Masterclass allows you to learn French pastry fundamentals and Mexican flavours from the masters or join San Francisco-based non-profit 18 Reasons' cooking classes on sourdough starters and vegetarian Greek classics.

Top chefs like Massimo Bottura, David Chang and Christina Tosi are sharing their recipes on Instagram on everything from pasta and dumplings to chicken soup and jams.

If you want to go a step further, there's advice from organic growers and Britain's Royal Horticultural Society on what, how and when to grow your own food.

For hikers, bikers and adventurers

If you are planning a trip further afield, choose trains over planes and bicycles over cars.

If flying is involved, it is worth checking out a carbon footprint calculator to see how much emissions the flight has caused.

Once you're at the destination, use bicycles, electronic cars or your own two feet so the carbon footprint is kept to a minimum.

Websites such as Komoot, Strava and Outdooractive have a selection of hiking, biking, running and mountaineering routes in many parts of the world or you can build your own. Many of the features are free.

Depending on your fitness level and experience you can find beautiful cycling routes around London, hike your way through the alps from Munich to Venice or work out a path to take in all the attractions at the Yellowstone National Park.

Above all, keep it sustainable

If it is feasible to travel, it's preferable to make low carbon choices, "like reducing the distance you travel to save emissions and sourcing food locally", said a statement from wildlife organisation WWF to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The pandemic has severely affected those reliant on wildlife tourism, so it also worth considering sustainable options that can reduce carbon impact while supporting nature, wildlife and local communities, it added.

Related stories: 

Workers mauled by pandemic shock to wildlife reserves, national parks

Earth Day 2020: How to be eco-friendly during coronavirus lockdown

Migrant workers face cruel summer as COVID-19 batters European tourism

Reporting By Thin Lei Win @thinink, Editing by Tom Finn (Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

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