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Where To Next Inspiration To Get You Through Travel Ban


While you stay at home and honour the lockdown order implemented by the government, you may well find yourself having some extra time to daydream about some of the bucket list locations you’d like to tick off once life starts returning to normal. 

If you’re looking for some inspiration on where you should travel once the ban has been lifted and it's safe to go abroad again - or you just need a healthy distraction from having to talk to your family members all day - look no further. 

Use Your Imagination: Travel Inspo for After the Travel Ban

While it isn’t possible to travel right now, using your imagination is the perfect way to combat the isolation blues and figure out where you’d like to visit once the travel restrictions have been lifted. Ask yourself the following questions while daydreaming about your next overseas adventure:


In the past, there may have been a single destination that’s always tickled your fancy. To be safe, think of three to five options to open up the possible destinations you can visit, being mindful that there may be long-term travel restrictions on one or more of the destinations you’d like to visit. Call it having a plan B, C, D and E.


This is normally something to ask whenever you start planning a trip, but deciding who your next ‘partner in crime’ will be early on rather than right before you book can change everything. Remember that travelling with grandma won’t be quite the same as doing so with your best friend from high school. Gran sure loves her clubbing, doesn’t she?


The answer can vary, from a need to get more sun after all the isolation to wanting to explore a new culture to just trying a dish that you read about online recently. If you know your intention, location choices will open up from there. You may even just be excited to be on a plane again after such a long time!


While you might not want to visit the same location twice, knowing what you enjoyed previously while on holiday can help you narrow down your choices purely based on setting. If you got a little more than ‘sun kissed’ the last time you hit a beach destination, you know warm weather destinations may not be a good fit for you. No need to go full igloo holiday, but you catch our drift.


This question gives you the chance to reflect on something memorable, or even some of the challenges from the last time you were abroad. Have a proper think about the trip and what stood out for you. Knowing what you want to avoid certainly makes it easier the next time around, whereas a fond memory can quickly point you in the right direction.

Get Inspired by These Bucket List Destinations

Now that you’ve done some soul searching, you’re just about ready to start getting inspired by some bucket list destinations. The following ideas will give you and your travel buddy the foreign destination fix you need once the travel restrictions are eventually lifted.


South Africa is one of the most breathtaking countries in the world, and its coastal city of Cape Town is a popular tourist destination for millions of people each year. While you can enjoy a lot of time in the sun on Clifton Beach - where you will feel rich and famous even if you’re not - you also have the pleasure of exploring Table Mountain, one of the most iconic South African tourist attractions, which is just a stone's throw away from the ocean.  

A visit to South Africa can give you a lot of options, allowing you to work in a bunch of activities that will make the adventure all the more memorable. Cape Town’s summer, which takes place between December and February, is the perfect time to visit, with generally hot temperatures and minimal rain across the board.


If cultural inspiration is part of your travel bucket list, there are many naturally beautiful heritage sites all over the world you can choose to visit. These include the likes of the Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison in Barbados and the painted churches in the Troodos region of Cyprus, as well as the León Cathedral and the old city of Dubrovnik in Croatia. The opportunities are endless!

Each of these sites has the UNESCO stamp of approval, so if you’re looking for a holiday leaning more towards the cultural, these are the places to be. Did we mention that you might run into Rihanna - or some statues of her, at least - in Barbados? See! Cultural.


For something completely different, have a think about visiting the ‘fairy chimneys’ in Cappadocia in Turkey. This remote region contains a sea of volcanic peaks that visitors are actually allowed to trek through. There are many other ways to experience them as well, including cave exploration or even having a look at them via hot air balloon. 

For some of the early inhabitants of the area, these volcanic peaks were used to create homes and churches, which would eventually perfectly match some of the historic castles in the area. There’s nothing quite like seeing the fairy chimneys in person for the first time, so avoid doing too much Googling before you leave.


Hurghada is a well known tourist resort in Egypt, providing many things to do including luxury beach breaks and the exploration of ancient tombs and pyramids. If you’ve seen a lot of this kind of thing on YouTube while under lockdown, you may be keen to keep scrolling. WAIT.

You probably haven’t thought about going on a different kind of adventure that breaks away from all stereotypes. Think flowers, plants and animals. Lots of them. Now we’re talking!

A 4x4 safari experience is memorable no matter the destination, simply because it gives you the chance to reconnect with nature, to see animals you’ve never seen before and to share a unique experience with people from all over the world. It’s the kind of holiday that never disappoints. 

Making Your Travel Dreams Come True

Armed with all this wonderful knowledge about a few of the incredible bucket list destinations out there in the world, we’ve hopefully whet your appetite for a new travel adventure once the global restrictions have been lifted. 

If not,our blog posts should do the trick. One of the more recent ones discusses a list of travel documentaries to watch at home, which should help tide you over until you can get back out there. It’s totally cool - and understandable - if you watch Around the World in 80 Days more times than you can count between now and then. 

Here’s to a lot more time spent daydreaming about your next trip, and to things returning back to the way they were sooner rather than later. Stay strong and happy travels!

How To Encourage Your Child To Learn On Their Own


Encouraging children to become independent learners helps them to discover how to learn anything they desire. The ability to actively and independently seek out knowledge is a skill we use every day. Taking the time to build an environment that engages your child and encourages them to learn and explore is one of the best things you can do for your child.

Rather than seeing the negatives of self-isolation, focus on how much resilience and growth your children can experience during this time. Learning to work independently and stay motivated is such an important part of success. Many of us are trying to juggle paid work, housework and home educating so it is important that our children can learn by themselves sometimes.

I have found the following approaches to be really helpful.

Set an Example

Set an example for your child. Let your child see you looking for answers to questions, reading books, and trying new things. Kids will copy what they see and, in a home where exploring and discovering are a part of everyday life, they are likely to start doing so on their own. When you discover something fascinating, call them over to show them what you have learned. Modelling is so important - if you are lying in the garden sunbathing, you can hardly expect your child to be sitting at a table learning.


Stock Your Shelves with Books

Stock your shelves with books, both fiction and non-fiction. Books are a doorway to knowledge and understanding. Offering your child a large stock of books in the home and regular trips to the library are great ways to encourage them to learn and explore. Look for a variety of topics and encourage your child to explore the shelves when they come to you to tell you they are bored. The more books your child is exposed to the better.

We have been sharing books that we have finished by putting them at the end of the drive for other children to have. We also celebrated VE Day by reading The Diary of Anne Frank and then starting our own diaries about life in lockdown.

Buy Learning Tools

Purchase tools designed for learning, like a microscope and a large set of slides. Kids will happily spend hours exploring microscopic worlds using a microscope. Other great tools for learning include telescopes, science kits, and even a quality camera to document discoveries. Giving your child tools to explore on their own or with your help means they are more likely to explore.

There are also plenty of things around the house that can bring learning to life. We have marbled mugs using old varnish. Children learn best by doing, so get them using their hands to explore. Lockdown has given us the opportunity to be really creative and not be so regimented with learning. We are remembering that it is not all about passing exams, and that learning is so much more than that.


Teach Life Skills

Teach life skills and talk about why they are important. Children can help meal plan to ensure that the family is getting a balanced diet and they can look up the cost of ingredients to learn about budgeting. This is especially useful for teenagers who will need to learn to budget in preparation for university and leaving home. I have had my teenagers cooking for us during lockdown. My 16-year-old has learnt to put together a BBQ and cook on it!

Encourage Your Kids

Encourage your child's hobbies and interests. As your child expresses new interests and picks up new hobbies, use them to encourage your child to learn. Look for books, documentaries, and activities that are relevant to your child’s interests. Kids thrive when learning about things they truly enjoy.

Encourage your child to reflect on the things they have learned. A digital scrapbook or blog, a paper journal, or just talking to you each day can help your child learn to reflect and remember the things they learned on their own. This is also a great way to get your child into the habit of searching out new opportunities to learn so they have something new to share.


Let You Child Have a Say

Allow your child to be part of your homeschooling planning. From choosing a curriculum to planning field trips, giving your child the chance to have a say in what they are learning will give them a sense of control in their education, making them more likely to stick to the learning plan through their own free will.

About the Author


Emma is a busy mum, full-time blogger and ex-teacher who now runs three blogs -, and Committed to helping young people, Emma can be found writing about a diverse range of topics, from raising the aspirations and confidence of teenagers to day trips and holidays with the family.  

Five Tricks for Getting Work Done at Home When You Have Kids


We are all in the same position at the moment: juggling working from home with the need to homeschool while still trying to make quality time for each other.

I would by lying if I said it wasn’t a struggle, especially with both of my husband and I having reasonable stressful jobs that require a number of conference calls a day. Plus one of our children is in school and one is in nursery, with a four-year age gap between the two of them. Although the boys will happily play together, their educational needs are very different. This can cause resentment on behalf of the seven-year-old who watches his brother with very green eyes as he learns through play. 

Five weeks into our lockdown journey there are still many challenges - but we have learnt a few tricks, which are helping us to get work done while at home with the boys.


1) Tag Team

It is really important to realise that you can’t do everything, at least not successfully, without losing your mind. We have been trying to tag team most days. This means that my husband will sit with the boys at the kitchen table in the morning helping them with their school work and activities while I disappear to the office. Then after lunch we swap over, although we are both still working at the kitchen table.

Having set times in the home office means that we can plan our conference and client calls during this time so we are less likely to get interrupted. Just knowing we have set times means that work that requires extra concentration can be done. I find it so much less stressful.

2) Have a Plan for Homeschool Lessons

We get sent a lot of work from school that needs to be completed. When we first started homeschooling we had a rigid timetable with one-hour slots. Each slot had a task to be completed. We realised within two days this was not going to work for us. So instead of being so structured, our eldest gets a chance to choose what he wants to do and when. He knows he has to do all the work that is set throughout the week. If he doesn’t then he will need to make up extra lessons at the weekend.

We start each week knowing exactly what needs to be done, with all the sheets and activities printed out. This makes choosing a lot easier - plus, it reduces stress on a Monday morning and allows us to focus on our own work to-do list as well. Each day we tick off the things he has done so he also feels a sense of accomplishment. I’ve reduced my expectations significantly. He also much prefers free play and imaginative play, so I make sure that we allow time in the day for him to do just that - which also allows me to catch up on emails.

3) Fun Afternoons

To keep us all sane at the end of the day we have a treat. Some one-on-one time without mobiles and without laptops is something for all of us to look forward to. It helps my Mum guilt as I know we will have that quality time. It also helps the boys to focus on something. We try and make sure this is outside whenever possible since the weather has been glorious lately. It could be playing cricket or football in the field, going for a walk or bike ride or even getting the paddling pool out. If the weather is not very good then it will be a craft project that the kids choose. Bath bombs have become a favourite!


4) Food, Food, Food 

I have noticed if the kids are hungry then everything gets a lot more difficult - so we try and stick rigidly to meal and snack times throughout the day. They do seem a little never ending, but I have learnt life is a lot easier for all if they are well fed with healthy snacks. Plus they are less likely to interrupt a phone call demanding food! We fill up the school water bottles in the morning and afternoon for the same reason. 

5) Rewards

If all else fails bribery can work! Both boys have a reward jar with four different coloured buttons. Different colours have a different number of points attached to them. It helps the eldest feel like he is achieving something.

For the younger one we have several activities planned for the week, with all the items for that activity easily at hand. This saves time hunting for things in the morning. I made a similar mistake in the first week with the little one as I did with the older one: expecting us to be able to get through lots of things. That did not work.

At the end of the week the boys can trade in their buttons and points for sweets and pennies. The buttons are worked into all aspects of our day. For example our eldest will get a button for each homeschool activity he completes; the younger one for each craft he completes. If they are kind to each other and don’t fight then they will get a different coloured button. By having this option it does mean if either my husband or I have to do something urgently for work we can use the rewards to our advantage: offering out buttons in return for letting us complete a work task. Each Sunday night we count out the buttons and exchange them for rewards, reconfirming for the coming week the benefit to collecting the buttons.


These are the five things that are helping my husband and I to get work done with the kids at home. It's a tricky balancing act and I hope that they help your family as they have helped mine. Please also share in the comments things that are helping you get through this crazy time. I would love to hear about them.

About Me


I run Mudpie Fridays, a parenting and travel blog that shares my husband’s and my parenthood balancing act and our adventures both in the UK and abroad. My name is Clare and I am married with two gorgeous boys, Monkey aged 7 and Kipper who is 3. As a family we have a passion for searching out new experiences to share with the boys. We hope to ignite in them the desire to learn and understand different people and cultures. By sharing our adventures I hope to encourage other parents to do the same. Time is the most precious commodity. Choose to spend it well.

Turn Your Pool Into A Beach


The Easter holidays have come and gone, and COVID-19 still presents a new way of living for the world. We must continue with preventative measures and stay home to take care of ourselves and others.

This now gives us a chance to spend more time with our families. If you have already been in your house for weeks due to the established quarantine and you cannot think of anything else to do besides watching series on Netflix, today I’ll share with you an innovative way to have a great time: create a beach in your own back garden. Now you can really enjoy a holiday at home!

Two kids at a pool

Create Your Own Beach at Home


You won't be able to make the sandcastles of your childhood, but you can enjoy the sea without having to travel to the coast. Sand pools are capable of meeting your needs without being too high an investment. They are perfect if the grass gives you an allergy or if you want a more natural alternative to tiling.

So are they a beach or a pool? They’re both at once! Sand pools are perfect for spending the summer at home without missing the shoreline. There are companies that specialize in the design and construction of imitation beach pools with sandy edges. They make them with a special sand, so that neither the water nor the wind can move it. Sometimes it is not even sand - it is epoxy or another material that achieves the sandy effect. These designs are the most realistic, but also the most expensive.

One of the advantages of sand pools is that they look like beaches. Infinity pools are beautiful, but they do not have progressive hill entrances like sand pools do, which allow you to enter them as if you were plunging into the sea.

Sand pools will make you feel as if you were really on the seashore. By decorating these pools as if they were beaches, with hammocks, towels, loungers and all the gear you would take on your vacation, they become perfectly artificial beaches. Now you will save yourself carrying all these belongings miles away to the ocean, because your beach will be in your own home.

Sand pool at back garden


If sand pools aren’t your cup of tea, consider investing in a built-in pool and covering your entire garden with sand. Remember that the sand should be of a thicker grain so that the wind does not drag it into the pool. You can make a softer and finer sand more suitable by tamping the ground and moistening it very occasionally.

Don’t forget the accessories! Surround your built-in pool with palm trees or tropical plants. If you want to simulate a coastal spot, include other natural elements such as stones.

A Kid playing at pool in the back garden


Building a sand pool or built-in pool in the garden can be a challenge, both for your skills and your budget. Considering the time we find ourselves in now, perhaps going for the easiest option is best - so I must recommend the inflatable pool, also known as kiddie pool. All you need to do is inflate it and fill it with water and voila! You’ve got your own personal pool in your backyard.

Now all you need to do is put on your swimsuit and splash around merrily, and put on some music you'd listen to while at the beach. You could even have a picnic outside and take photos of yourself 'on holiday'. You’ll be the envy of all your friends! This is truly the cheapest and most viable option for the average person.

A Ball in an Inflatable pool at Garden

What do you think? Will you be turning the pool in your own back garden into a beach?

Top Tips to Stay COVID-Free on Holiday


The pandemic has changed our lives all together be it mentally, physically or emotionally. Now with the new variant trending on our social media pages and television channels at home many of you will be wondering “is it safe to travel?” Well, it can be if you follow some basic steps, so below we will outline top tips to stay COVID-free on your next family holiday

Research your Destination

Countries across the globe are actively battling against COVID-19 and in order to ensure you stay COVID-free during your holiday research the destination you are travelling to. Restrictions and quarantine rules are different in each country and change regularly. 

Plan your Trip

Planning your trip in advance is highly recommended. You will have to think about how you will get to the airport in order to avoid cross contamination. Is the country you are travelling to deemed low risk? What are the rules put in place by the airlines, accommodation provider and local governments to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus?

Get Insurance 

You don’t want to be getting ill on your holiday without travel insurance cover, your health is never worth the risk. Please check your travel insurance policy to see if you are covered during the pandemic. 

Check Documentation Requirements 

Countries now require you to provide extra documentations when travelling, check for any entry requirements on and search for the country you are travelling to. Some countries also require you to provide with a negative PCR test within a period of time prior to travelling. Some countries will also require a vaccination certificate, make sure you download the NHS app and or print your vaccine certificate ready to show when prompted. 

Know the Airport Requirements 

Allow for extra time at the airport, arrive three hours prior to departure as ques during check in maybe longer than expected due to extra checks in place.
Masks are compulsory when boarding your flight, you must wear your masks in public transport and during your flight this prevents the spread of the virus alongside washing your hands frequently. It is recommended during your flight to change your mask every four hours. Low cost airlines do not provide masks or hand sanitizers on board so please make sure you take plenty to last your trip the minute you leave your house.
You must practice social distance if the individual is not from the same household it’s recommended to keep your distance. This can be anything between 1 – 2 meters depending on local government advice. Try to also avoid crowds during a tour or visiting the local town or city, popular attractions are usually less crowded during the early hours of the morning. 
Be prepared for last minute cancellation as the government advice changes on a regular basis. Some flight or accommodation suppliers may cancel one or all element of your booking as they are not able to afford to run the flight or unable to operate the hotel due to the number of booking received.
Lastly if all the above still leaves you feeling too stressed to travel during the pandemic there are always the opportunity to book holidays in advance, for later in 2022 or even 2023 holidays.  
If you have a 2021 holiday still to take or have cheap 2022 holidays planned, take the tips above in consideration and above all – make sure you have fun in the sun! 

6 TV Shows to Binge Watch During the Quarantine


It’s a well-worn joke already, but there’s some truth in saying that now is probably the best time to be confined to our homes, as we’ve moved past the era of boxset binging to one in which the wonder of streaming leaves almost everything at our fingertips whenever we want it. 

If you’re looking for something to fill more time than the couple of hours you’d spend watching a movie, there are few better things to turn to than a TV series. 

From anthology series and crime dramas to warm-hearted comedies with casts you’ll fall in love with... read on for our list of six of the best TV shows to binge watch. 



The 6 Best TV Shows to Binge Watch 

It can be easy to forget that critics have been talking about a ‘golden age of television’ since the early 2000s, when cable networks began taking risks on long-form dramas and outside-the-box comedies. And while some have for several years been claiming the golden age is coming to an end, the number of great shows being pumped out is showing no signs of slowing down. 

This is great for viewers, but it does create a problem. As some have found out, there’s almost too much to get through. 

Now, dependent on how long this lockdown lasts, we might prove these worries wrong. But to keep this list manageable, we’ve limited it to more recent shows. So classics like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and my personal favourite The Wire will have to settle for honourable mentions. 

With no further ado, let’s get into our list: the top six binge-worthy TV shows to watch while social distancing. 


Brought to us by Michael Schur, who co-created the wonderful Parks and Recreation as well as excellent ongoing cop comedy Brooklyn 99, The Good Place is among the best televisual comfort food you’ll ever encounter. 

Its premise is simple but genius, following self-described ‘Arizona dirtbag’ Eleanor Shellstrop after she mistakenly finds herself in ‘the good place’, this universe’s answer to heaven. 

What unfolds is a beautiful, heartwarming sitcom, with intricate worldbuilding and an absolutely stellar cast, with D’Arcy Carden particularly standing out as omnipotent good place ‘Siri’, Janet. 

By the time the series ends after four all-too-brief seasons, you’ll fall in love with these charming characters as close friends. Just don’t blame us if you cry once it’s all over. 




At the other end of the spectrum from the optimistic ‘things will work out’ attitude of Michael Schur’s shows, Black Mirror can be absolutely devastating. It brims with acerbic wit in its blacker-than-black comedy, even as it yearns for worlds in which the horrible things it shows us don’t happen. 

Beginning on Channel 4 in 2011 before being picked up by Netflix in 2015, and shocking the airwaves in its very first episode with a prime minister’s porcine encounter that turned out to be a little too close to real-life rumours, this show has provided some of the best speculative sci-fi of the past decade.

It’s an anthology series, so not all its episodes are classics, but not knowing what you’ll get when the next one queues up is part of the fun. And at its best it shows horrifying implications of fantastic technology, earning comparisons to the iconic The Twilight Zone. And with projects like 2018’s feature-length Bandersnatch, it pushes the boundaries of what binge-worthy TV shows can be. 




For something both scary and heartfelt, there are few better shows than Stranger Things. Netflix had had original hits before, of course, but if any show proved its worth as a content creator, it was this. 

First airing in summer 2016, Stranger Things became nothing short of a pop-culture phenomenon, with creators the Duffer brothers gleefully throwing Stephen King’s horror stories, Steven Spielberg’s coming of age movies and more ‘80s nostalgia than a Flock of Seagulls cassette tape all into a blender.

 What emerged was pure televisual joy, with enough supernatural mystery to hook you and strong enough characters to keep you around. Now three seasons in, Stranger Things remains one of the very best shows on Netflix. 




Moving from original properties to adaptations, Disney’s The Mandalorian is just one recent example of what creators can do on TV when they’re given the chance to play in an established universe. 

Star Wars has been an enormously popular franchise since the first movie opened in 1977, so it might be surprising that there’s never been an ongoing live-action series set in that world. While comics and books have been big since the ‘80s and ‘90s, and the 2000s gave us solid animated shows like The Clone Wars, we had to wait until 2019 to see what live-action Star Wars could be on the small screen.

Luckily, it’s a treat: heaps of fun with memorable characters, and home to one of the most adorable memes of the last few years in ‘baby yoda’. If a fun, high-production-value space adventure is your thing, don’t miss The Mandalorian.




While critics have raved about BoJack since at least its second season, it hasn’t quite hit the popular consciousness like some other shows have. To be fair, it’s easy to see why. With its focus on the titular washed-up former sitcom star and the wacky characters that surround him, this off-beat, adult-oriented animation’s emotional depth almost sneaks up on you. 

Given the premise of this show, we might have seen some of the excellent animal puns and hilarious farcical situations coming, but I don’t think anyone would have predicted that it would become not just one of the best shows on Netflix, but one of the best depictions of mental health struggles in all TV.




A strong contender for best show on TV right now, Better Call Saul just wrapped up its fifth season and is due to finish up for good sometime next year. 

There’s no better moment to get involved, then, as you’ll be able to get hooked just in time to catch what’s sure to be a breathless finale. 

When a prequel to Breaking Bad focused on Walter White’s sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman was announced, there was little reason to expect much. How could anything follow one of the best crime dramas of all time? Let alone a series focused on a character who was always largely there for comic relief. 

How amazing, then, that Saul is now widely regarded as the equal of its esteemed predecessor - and sometimes even as better. While it arguably takes a while to find its footing, it has evolved into one of the most intricately written, beautifully shot shows ever to hit TV. 

Building on its famous parent show perfectly, Saul deepens the universe and our connection to many of its key players, all without ever losing its focus on the slow-motion, all-too-understandable descent of one decent, or decent enough, man into greed and corruption. 



We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the best TV shows to binge watch - and that it helps fill your time while social distancing. If you need more inspiration for fun things to do in quarantine, why not check out our other blogs

Keep Kids Entertained At Home With Road Trip Tips


Your family’s spring getaway may have gone out the window - along with your Easter holiday activities - but your new, government-enforced ‘staycation’ doesn’t have to be all boredom and whinging.

With COVID-19 putting everyone’s travel plans on pause, we’ve taken inspiration from adventurous road trips to help keep your youngsters occupied during the lockdown.

Before we crack on with the fun stuff, we’d like to take a moment to remind our readers that current government advice states that all non-essential travel should stop. You can read more about the latest coronavirus rules here. 


Lockdowns and Road Trips: Surprisingly Similar

With all that out of the way, it’s time for something a little more enjoyable. In many ways, a lockdown is not all that different to taking your kids on a road trip. You’re all stuck together, space is limited, you can’t go outside and there are only so many things you can do to keep the little darlings occupied before the squabbling starts. 

That’s why we’ve decided to transform our infallibly fun collection of family road trip ideas into a bumper list of lockdown activities. These games and pastimes ought to keep you busy until the lockdown lifts and you can finally hit the road for real! 

Things to Do With Your Kids at Home During the Quarantine

Already at your wit’s end? Worry not, these road trip games and activities are all brilliant things to do with kids at home.


A spot of colouring in can keep young’uns occupied for so much longer than you might think. If your online colouring book deliveries won’t come fast enough thanks to coronavirus hold ups, never fear! There are tonnes of downloadable, printable resources you can use instead. You could even draw out your own colouring in designs, or use digital programmes on the computer. Here are some of our favourite resources:

  • The Crayola website has free colouring in pages featuring everything from Disney characters to intricate mandalas.
  • has colouring pages for just about any interest. We love the travel-themed designs (ideal for holiday daydreaming during quarantine).
  • Make colouring extra educational with designs featuring famous works of art from Super Coloring.
  • Disney has colouring pages your kids can complete online - no pencils or crayons required.
  • Really Color lets you turn your photos into colouring book pages at the click (or three) of a button.




Parents who road trip with their youngsters swear by the distracting power of small craft projects. On the road, these projects need to be simple and require few ‘ingredients’. From the comfort of your living room, however, these indoor activities for kids can be as messy or complicated as you like! Here are some brilliant sources of inspiration to get you started:

  • Good Housekeeping’s list of 50 craft projects for kids include some spectacular ‘makes’ such as DIY jellyfish that can hang from the ceiling and mini banjos made from elastic bands and jam jar lids (perfect if you can’t get hold of new crafting gear at the moment).
  • Happiness is Homemade has some fantastic family-friendly crafting ideas for kids that you can try today. We’re especially tempted to try building a loo roll tube marble run!
  • Pom-pom chandeliers and ‘nebula jars’ are just two of the crafts kids will love on this awesome list compiled by Buzzfeed. This resource includes messy outdoor activities (if you have a garden), as well as indoor activities ideal for rainy days. 



As any parent will attest, kids these days are utterly addicted to the internet. Many road-tripping families love that devices are now portable enough to use on the move. Here are some brilliant, fun and educational YouTube channels for children:

  • TED-Ed is full of beautifully animated videos about all sorts of subjects, including Egyptian myths and why animals have claws but humans have nails.
  • Mike Likes Science comes from the rapper formerly known as Coma Niddy. His channel is packed with engaging, clever raps all about educational subjects including coding and dinosaurs.
  • Geek Gurl Diaries is a brilliant collection of videos designed to inspire girls who want to learn to code.
  • Sesame Street has all sorts of brilliant content on its channel, perfect for littler YouTube lovers.
  • Netflix Jr. is home to videos from lots of children’s Netflix shows including StoryBots and Go! Go! Cory Carson.



On a road trip we recommend planning lots of activities kids can engage with from their seats, such as I Spy and Road Trip Bingo, where you have to spot as many items on your bingo sheet through the window as possible. Inside your home and outside of car seats, there’s no limit to the activities you can get stuck into. Why not try…

  • Building a blanket fort out of sheets and pillows. Depending on your space, supplies and patience, your fabric castle can become as elaborate as you like!
  • Creating a treasure hunt might not be practical for busy home working parents, but if you find yourself with free time, it’s a brilliant activity for kids. You can create maps, or set a trail around the house complete with riddles that your little adventurers must solve in order to find the next clue.
  • Building an obstacle course might be less chaotic if you have an outdoor space, but it can work inside too as long as the obstacles are on a small scale, like running across the landing balancing a book on your head. In the garden, courses can get as creative as you like! You can even get the kids to invent their own obstacles to keep them busier for longer.


We hope some of our road trip-inspired indoor activities for kids will keep you and your family happily occupied during the COVID-19 lockdown. Do you have any brilliant ideas to share with other self-isolating families? Let us know in the comments section below. You’ll also find lots of other lockdown ideas on our blog, including a list of our favourite travel documentaries - perfect for winding down with a spot of escapism once the kids have gone to bed.

Dishes Around The World You Can Recreate In Kitchen


With the UK and much of the world now in coronavirus lockdown, millions of people have already had holidays cancelled, while others have getaways planned for the coming months that are now very much in doubt. However, just because you’re not going to see those far-flung holiday destinations doesn’t mean you can’t still get a taste of some of the food you were looking forward to trying during your travels. 

With that in mind, here are some tasty international cuisines that you can cook at home in your very own kitchen. 



Exotic Meals to Cook at Home 


If you’re missing out on a holiday to Spain or the Balearic Islands - or you’ve simply never tried paella before - now’s the time to add this delicious Valencian dish to your repertoire. This seafood and chorizo paella can be made in a single pan on the hob, so you won’t have to waste time washing up, and it takes just 45 minutes to cook. It’s a kid-friendly meal that your family will love. 

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Half a chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of pressed garlic
  • 150g of sliced chorizo
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • A handful of olives
  • 1/4 of a cup of white wine
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 skinned chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 400g of seafood (prawns, clams, mussels, etc.)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley



  1. Put your skillet on the hob at a high temperature. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil, garlic and chopped onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add the tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes.  
  2. Add the wine, stir in the rice and cook for another 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and stir well. Add the chicken, olives, paprika and a pinch of saffron and stir again. Cover the pan and allow it to cook for 15 minutes.  
  3. After 15 minutes, add the seafood and cover it again. Cook for a further 15 minutes or until the rice is fluffy and the seafood is cooked through.
  4. Drizzle the dish with lemon juice, garnish with fresh parsley and serve. 




For the next of our food recipes from around the world, we travel to Tunisia to try the delicious combination of eggs, tomatoes and spices that’s known as shakshuka. Once again, we’re saving on the washing up with this single skillet dish that can be served straight from the pan at the table. It takes just 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large red or orange pepper
  • 3 cloves of pressed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 5 or 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup of crumbled feta
  • Crusty bread to mop up the sauce!


  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Warm the olive oil in a large, oven-safe pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper and salt and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste, garlic, paprika and cumin and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes while stirring.
  3. Turn off the heat, add salt and pepper and make a crater in the sauce using the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into the crater and spoon some of the tomato sauce over the whites of the egg to keep it in place. Repeat this process with the other 5 eggs.  
  4. Transfer the pan into the preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The eggs are cooked when the whites are no longer clear and the yolks have risen.
  5. Transfer the hot pan to a heat-safe surface and crumble on the feta and fresh parsley, before serving with crusty bread.



Our Favourite Food Recipes: International Cuisine Edition 

So far our food recipes have come from two of the regions you can travel to with Teletext Holidays, but now we’re branching out to our favourite international cuisines from the rest of the world.  


It’s only right that we cater for all you vegans out there, and this is a dish we know you’ll love! This hearty Ethiopian stew packs a punch with warming flavours and just the right amount of spice. It will serve 3-4 and takes just 30 minutes to cook.

You’ll need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes cut into 1-2cm chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves of pressed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger
  • 1 cup of dried yellow lentils
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • Around 250g of shredded cabbage
  • 1 large chopped tomato
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Fresh coriander
  • 1 tablespoon of berbere spice mix

You can buy berbere spice mix in the shops, but as we’re on lockdown, here’s a guide to help you make it yourself


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add in the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of berbere spice mix, the cabbage, the tomato and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes, lentils and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and allow it to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  3. Once the sweet potato is soft and the lentils are cooked, add the lemon juice and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid off. Add the fresh coriander, give it a final stir and serve. 




These easy Asian beef bowls take just 15 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook using ingredients many of you will already have at home. They’re also a major family-pleaser, making them one of the best international meals to cook at home. 

You’ll need:


  • 900g of lean minced beef
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves of pressed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger
  • ¾ of a teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 5 sliced spring onions
  • 300g of rice
  • A handful of sesame seeds
  • Chopped cashews


  1. Use your hands to mix the beef with the baking soda in a large bowl and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. Mix the soy sauce, tomato paste, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and sugar in a small bowl and leave that to sit, too.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat and brown the beef. Stir it frequently and break it into pieces until it’s almost completely brown. You can drain the fat if you like or leave it in for more flavour.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger and half of the spring onions to the pan. Let them cook for a few minutes and stir frequently. Add the hoisin sauce mixture to the beef and make sure it’s well-coated in the sauce. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the remaining spring onions before spooning the beef over bowls of rice. Top with the sesame seeds and chopped cashews and devour!  



Food for Thought 

We hope our food recipes from around the world will inspire you to try something new that will keep you and your family happy, healthy and full during this difficult time. For holiday tips and more travel-inspired entertainment at home, please check out our other blog posts

Its Not All Bad News Part 2


In such uncertain times, the best we can do is take things day by day. With quarantines being enforced worldwide, the reality of the coronavirus outbreak has set in and the mental health of many may be taking a toll. Luckily, there are lots of good news stories out there to help us combat these negative feelings.

From the United States to Italy, positive news stories are coming to light, making us feel warm and comforted. Here are some of the ones we love the most - why not pick your favourite and share it on social media to spread the good news?

Positive News Stories Around the World

Throughout the world, quarantine has been mandated to keep people safe from COVID-19. It’s important for our health and the health of others that we stay at home. Being in one place for days on end can build anxiety, but thanks to Google Arts and Culture, being stuck at home doesn’t mean we have to look at the same familiar walls until the self-isolation rule is lifted. 

Google has partnered with thousands of museums from around the globe to bring the Google Street View feature inside. Now you can spend time immersing yourself in cultures from around the world from the comfort of your own flat. Perhaps you’ll spend time perusing famous paintings by van Gogh, or take a trip across the pond to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The best part is that you can visit as many museums as you’d like, so you can take your time with each and every work of art. 


A few of our frozen friends spent a day exploring the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. In the video below you’ll meet Wellington, a rockhopper penguin, as he greets other residents around the aquarium for the first time. He and his penguin pals were able to spend a day exploring the place they live for the very first time - with the supervision of their caretakers, of course. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic forced the Shedd Aquarium to close, animals who live there aren’t getting the enrichment they usually experience when the building is frequented by animal enthusiasts. Caretakers have gotten creative to provide the animals the same level of interaction they’re used to. With playtime, problem solving activities and open exhibits for the penguins, the temporary closure of the aquarium doesn’t mean the end of fun for anyone. 



A little closer to home, in the canals of Venice, dolphins and fish can be seen swimming for the first time in a long time. With everyone staying home and a significant decrease in tourism in the city, the sediment in the canals that is typically shaken up due to a high volume of boating traffic has had the opportunity to remain settled, leaving the water stunningly clear. 

The floor of these canals haven’t seen the light of day in quite a while. It’s a miraculous thing to not only be able to truly appreciate the elegance of these waters, but to see life thrive within them. Nature really does have a beautiful habit of mending itself. 


Since the pandemic began, Italy has been one of the most heavily impacted countries. Italians, out of an urgent need to spark joy in such tumultuous times, have turned to their balconies to cultivate a cheerful sense of community from safe distances. Balcony concerts are bringing music to the streets and allowing those who are self-isolating to feel a little less alone. 


Perhaps the most charming bit of news to come from the quarantine mandate so far is from Argentina. The mother of a seven-year-old boy, Joaquin, who lost his first tooth tweeted the president inquiring if the tooth fairy was exempt from the quarantine. Not surprisingly, the tooth fairy is able to bravely and safely keep working despite the spread of the coronavirus. 


A beacon of hope shines over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the famous Christ the Redeemer statue has been lit up with the flags of countries battling the coronavirus. This statue represents a monument of hope to people throughout the world. The hashtag ‘praytogether’ has been projected on the statue in multiple languages, reminding the globe that this is a time to come together and have faith that things will get better. 



With the spread of the coronavirus outbreak comes the spread of fear. In an attempt to combat this, Canadians started a 'caremongering' campaign to detract from the scaremongering caused by the pandemic. What is ‘caremongering’? Spreading kindness and care just as quickly as a virus spreads! Examples of this could include sending care packages to those in need or providing a meal to a family with children home from school.

Social media is being used to connect people who wish to benefit from ‘caremongering’, either as someone who wants to help or as someone in need of assistance. This is an especially valuable tool, not only because spreading cheer is desperately needed right now but also because it helps those who are at a high risk of contracting the virus - like healthcare workers - get the resources they need to stay safe.

Story Time: What kind of ‘caremongering’ have you seen in your community? Leave a comment and share your story! The world is in need of positive news, so we would especially love to hear what’s making you feel good these days. 


For other bits of good news, browse our blog posts and maybe plan a fun-filled staycation. It’s important to stay calm while reducing the risk of infection, and creating a relaxing environment in your home is a great way to boost your mental health. So light your favorite scented candle, sip some tea and keep your eyes out for more positive news from around the world.

Stay Afloat As A Travel Blogger When No One Is Travelling


Financially speaking, right now is a scary time to be a travel blogger. Your traffic is tanking, all your press trips have been cancelled and your affiliate marketing partners are suspending their programmes until further notice. 

Even if you’ve done a great job diversifying your income streams, if those streams are all related to travel then they’re probably all drying up.

Getting paid to travel once seemed like the dream job, but now travel blogging seems like the worst career you could have chosen. But don't throw in the towel just yet. You’re actually in a better position than you might think.

Running your own travel blog has taught you valuable skills that will help you get through this rough patch and come out stronger on the other side. If you’re a full-time blogger or freelancer, then you’re already used to not being able to rely on a steady paycheck every month. While you may not have been through anything quite as drastic as the current situation, you've certainly experienced plenty of ups and downs. You know how to be resilient and how to adapt to your ever-changing surroundings and different situations.

A blogger working on her laptop

Okay, so your surroundings haven't changed much in the past few weeks, but your situation certainly has. So, how can you adapt? 

The fact is that most people just aren’t reading travel blogs right now. They will be in a few months, though, if you can wait that long. In the short term, you can write the kind of content that people are searching for and reading right now.

Or, if you have enough in your savings account to ride this thing out, you can take this time to make your blog better. I’m sure you have a long list of improvements you’d like to make to your site but never seem to have time for. Making those improvements now will put you in a great position when travel does finally bounce back - which it will, with a vengeance.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the short-term vs. long-term strategies you could adapt right now.

Short-Term Strategies


Your readers are probably going stir crazy right now, so offer them ways of travelling while in lockdown. This could be an article about the best novels set in your favorite destination, top travel vloggers to follow on YouTube or the best virtual tours being offered by museums around the world.

Get creative and find an angle that fits with your brand and your interests. For example, one blogger friend of mine recently wrote a post about yoga poses that remind her of particular travel destinations.


If your blog covers other topics besides travel or if you think you could add a few new topics that would fit in well on your site, consider switching gears for a few months. 

Survey your email list and social media followers to find out what kind of content they want and need right now. Here are a few examples of niches that are doing well in the current situation:

  • Recipes
  • Gardening
  • DIY
  • Crafting
  • Homeschooling
  • Minimalist living
  • Mindfulness/meditation/yoga
  • Home workouts

If you are interested in and knowledgeable about one or more of those topics, try writing a few articles and see how well they do. Personally, I would only do this if I could fit those articles naturally into my current blog. 

Some travel bloggers are starting second sites around these niches, and if you have the energy and determination to see that through, then go for it. Just remember what a big undertaking it is to create and maintain a whole separate website and the associated social media accounts, email list, etc.


Depending on your financial situation, you may not have the luxury to experiment with new things in the hopes that they will work. If you need to make some quick cash right now, then keep reading.

Many of the skills that you’ve learned through blogging are skills that other people will pay you for. Depending on your areas of expertise, this could include writing, editing, SEO consulting, social media management and/or website design.

Create a profile on sites like Upwork and Fiverr to seek out freelance clients for these types of gigs. You may also have other skills and expertise not related to blogging that you could monetise, such as teaching English online.

Medium-Term Strategy: Focus on Domestic Tourism

No one knows exactly when we’ll be able to travel again, but one thing is certain: people will start travelling locally before they start travelling internationally. It will probably be several months before national borders reopen, and even longer before people feel confident enough to travel abroad.

So start writing about nearby attractions in and around the city or town you live in (or wherever you’re riding out the pandemic). In countries that have managed to control the spread of the virus, domestic travel may be possible within the next month. Here in Portugal where I live, authorities are already talking about lifting the state of emergency next week.

Of course, this local approach will work best for bloggers based in a country where the language they write in is widely spoken, or is at least spoken by a large expat population. If you write in English but live in Mozambique, you won’t have a very large local audience for your content. On the other hand, if you’re in an English-speaking country like the UK, or even a place where English is widely spoken as a second language like India or the Philippines, domestic travellers could be a good source of readership for you.

If you live in a place that normally suffers from overtourism, the lack of international crowds will be a strong selling point. You’ll also be able to get some killer photographs before the international visitors arrive.

Praça do Comércio, Portugal

Long-Term Strategies


If you’re not interested in writing about any of the current “hot topics” and if the domestic tourism market is not part of your readership, then your best bet is to play the long game.

Take this opportunity to work on all those tasks you never have time for, like sorting through old photos and updating old blog posts. You can also enrol in an online course to hone a skill or learn a new one from scratch. This could be a course about search engine optimization (SEO), photography or graphic design for Pinterest.

Breakfast Receipe

You’re probably reluctant to shell out hundreds of pounds for an online course right now, and the good news is you don’t have to. You can find some high-quality courses that are reasonably priced or even free on sites like Udemy and Coursera. 

If you have a backlog of blog posts you’ve been meaning to write, go ahead and post them. The age of a page is a significant ranking factor for Google, so if you post your content now, it will have time to gradually move up the rankings in the coming months. Then you’ll be in a strong position once people start searching for travel content again.

Do think carefully about how (or if) you’ll promote that travel content on social media during the pandemic, though. While it could be seen as much-needed inspiration that gives people something to look forward to, it could also come across as tone-deaf. If you do promote your travel content, make it clear that you aren’t encouraging people to travel right now.

What’s your plan for your blog during the pandemic? Will you be taking a short-term, medium-term or long-term approach?

5 Tips for Fun Indoor Activities with Kids


Over the last few months in lockdown we have quickly had to learn ways to keep our children entertained, especially with the volatile British weather. It’s a little easier in the sunshine but when the rain arrives, my partner and I have to get a little more creative indoors! 

Get Creative

Indoor activities for children don't need to be expensive or extravagant. You can easily use household objects to come up with fun ways to keep the kids entertained and we have been doing just that.  


Baking is always a fun indoor activity with children and we have been getting busy with new recipes both sweet and savoury. We've found that not only does it keep the children occupied but it helps to teach them basic kitchen skills, improve their knowledge of nutrition and the cooking process, and also doubles up as a maths lesson discussing weight, volume and time! 



One of the things we miss the most during lockdown is heading out for a picnic with the kids and so indoor picnics have become something we can enjoy as a family regardless of the weather outside. We throw down a picnic blanket in the lounge, lay down lots of different plates with picnic favourites - sandwiches, sausage rolls, fruit and cheese - and take it in turns to choose our imaginary setting, be that on a warm sunny beach, a meadow by the river, or our favourite park.


We've found crafts are a great indoor activity and thanks to the internet there are a whole host of resources at the tip of your fingertips. We've been taking part in daily craft activities and YouTube tutorials, and have been enjoying crafting projects from school. From drawing and rock painting to origami and junk modelling, the limits are endless when it comes to crafts and you don't need expensive resources. There is so much you can do with a cardboard box and an empty washing up bottle! 



Making a den is always the perfect indoor activity and one our children enjoy every time.  We simply use blankets and pillows - even the cushions from the couch - and piece together a canopy or a den beneath the dining table, and the children love it! We've found creating a den gives them a place to sit and read, to do their maths activities on their iPads, or to simply use their imaginations as a place to play!


We are missing being able to go to the cinema and so a fun activity to share together is a movie night as a family. We take it in turns to choose a film, pick popcorn or sweets or our favourite cinema snack, get all the cushions and blankets and snuggle up to enjoy a movie. Sometimes on a weekend, as a special treat, we stay up a little later, close the curtains and dim the lights and use our projector on the living room wall. 


What's your favourite indoor activity to do with the kids?

10 Fictional Places We'd Visit if We Could


Sometimes the best adventures happen in our imagination. Whether it’s the setting of a magical book or a thrilling TV show, fictional worlds are often even more exciting than reality.

Since real life travel is currently on hold, there’s never been a better time to let your daydreams run wild.



Imagination Travel Ideas: Fictional Worlds We Want to Visit

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to study at Hogwarts, gorge on chocolate with Willy Wonka or take a trip through Middle Earth? We have! To fire up your imagination even more, we’ve put together a list of 10 fictional travel ideas:


From its towering turrets to its talking paintings, Hogwarts is the most iconic fictional school to have ever existed. Hogwarts is a major part of the Harry Potter series and it’s jam-packed with magic. Even the entrance exam is like no other – just put the sorting hat on and it’ll tell you whether you’re a Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. And who doesn’t want to learn how to cast spells, brew potions and play Quidditch on a speedy broomstick?

2)   WONDERLAND (Alice in Wonderland)

We can’t imagine a crazier adventure than a trip to Wonderland. In this weird and wonderful place, one sip from a bottle could make you shrink, while a slice of cake could make you taller. You’ll probably bump into the Mad Hatter and make friends with a grinning Cheshire Cat, but just remember not to annoy the terrifying Queen of Hearts. Wonderland is full of Disney charm, but with enough danger to keep you on your toes. Anything can happen when you go down the rabbit hole, making this one unforgettable adventure. 

3) THE GALAXY (Star Wars)

The Star Wars Galaxy is a place far, far away, where space travel is totally normal. This famous fictional world is home to all kinds of strange species, as well over 400 billion stars – all orbiting around a supermassive black hole. In the Galaxy, you can walk on the moon and battle with lightsabers, all in one afternoon. 



4)   NARNIA (Chronicles of Narnia)

“Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don't go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don't try to get there at all. It'll happen when you're not looking for it.”                        

                                                   – Professor Digory Kirke, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

If you read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a child, then you’ll know all about Narnia. If you love magic and mayhem, then this is the place for you. The mystical world of Narnia has a sky like a huge dome, and is filled with magical beings called Star People, talking animals and underground worlds to explore.

5)   MIDDLE EARTH (The Lord of the Rings)

One of the most detailed imaginary places ever created is Middle Earth, and it is the setting for some of history’s most famous fantasy fiction. Tolkien drew detailed maps of his magical world and there’s lots to explore. For an enjoyable adventure, skip through the lush, green fields of the Shire with its friendly hobbits or visit the breathtaking wood elves in the golden kingdom of Lórian. If you’re in the mood for danger, head to the terrifyingly dark Mordor. Home to the evil Sauron, it’s surrounded by rocky mountains and swampland. 



6)  THE EMERALD CITY (The Wizard of Oz)

Home to the mysterious Wizard of Oz, the Emerald City has to be one of the strangest places in all of fantasy land. For starters, you need to follow the yellow brick road to reach its emerald-encrusted walls. Plus, everyone is forced to wear green-tinted glasses within the city walls, including the animals. The Emerald City is apparently so green that you still see its glow far off into the distance. 

7) LAND OF OZ (Wizard of Oz)

You can’t go to the Emerald City without spending some time in the Land of Oz. In this fairy kingdom, talking animals rule. Look out for friendly creatures with big personalities, like the Cowardly Lion, the Comfortable Camel and the Hungry Tiger. Or head to the Unicorner in Munchkin Country for a chance to see the unicorns. There are also Bun People, made entirely of baked treats, and living paper dolls to meet while you explore this strange world. 


Known as the greatest factory in the world for good reason, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory would satisfy even the biggest sugar-lover. Delicious treats on offer include Wonka’s Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight, Everlasting Gobstoppers and even lickable wallpaper. You could try floating down the Chocolate River or swimming in a pool of fizzy lemonade. Even if you’re not a fan of chocolate, the great glass elevator makes this factory worth a visit. 




Game of Thrones is one of the most popular TV shows ever made. When it comes to this fantasy realm, even the guided tour can’t match the thrill of your imagination. The novels the show is based on were written by George R. R. Martin, and the world he created is made up of three continents and numerous islands. King’s Landing, although dangerous, seems particularly lovely with its Gold Road and Rose Road. But watch out for the seasons, because winter’s been known to last for a long time in this world. 

10) NEVERLAND (Peter Pan)

If you never want to grow up, then Neverland is the place for you. You can expect to meet Captain Hook and his pirate crew, Tinker Bell and a whole host of other fairies and The Lost Boys – a tribe of brave children who live in treehouses and caves. But be warned: the longer people stay in Neverland, the more they forget about their former lives. 



Pop culture is full of thrilling fantasy worlds and we’d love to experience all of them. When you feel like switching daydreams for some real world holiday inspiration, you can still check out our travel-related blog posts. In the meantime, happy imaginative travels!

My 6 Favourite Wine Travel Memories



I’m a drinks writer so I take a lot of trips as part of my job but even when I’m on holiday with my family, I can’t resist visiting a vineyard or two.

Here I’ve narrowed down 10 years’ worth of visits into six unforgettable memories. None of them are particularly off the beaten track but they all offer experiences that will appeal to wine lovers.

Wine yard

1) Paso Robles, California

My wife and I spent our honeymoon driving up the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. On the return journey south, we stopped in Paso Robles, midway between the two cities. The landscape, with its pine trees, winding hilltop roads and the blue of the ocean, reminded us of the South of France, and compared with the tourist trap of Napa Valley, it felt undiscovered.

Quite by chance, we saw a sign for a winery that I had read about, Tablas Creek, founded by the French Perrin family. The climate and soil reminded them of their home in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhone Valley so they bought land and planted vines. The wines were some of the best we tried on that road trip, bright and Californian but with a French feel, just like the hills of Paso Robles. 

2) Marsala, Sicily

The fortified wine of Marsala in western Sicily once had a high reputation but is now usually just used for cooking. While searching for old style Marsala, we stayed in a converted winery, the Baglio Donna Franca, set among the vines. I was told the owner of the hotel, Giacomo Ansaldi, was a historian of the region.

One afternoon, he took my wife and me on a tour of his vineyards, pointing out a ruined Georgian building that looked like something from Bath or Cheltenham; it was a former winery built by a British merchant. Then, he led us into his cellar, which was filled with huge barrels; these were old wines he had collected from farmers and producers, some dating back to the nineteenth century. He gave me a taste from one. The air filled with the smell of chamomile and cobnuts - I was tasting a little bit of Sicilian history. 

A Pool near vineyard

3) Porto, Portugal

I’ve visited the home of port on a number of occasions but I’m going to pick my first visit back in 2014. As a guest of George Sandeman, we spent two days in the city Porto during the craziness of Festa de São João. Then, at night, we were driven at high speeds round the winding roads that led to Sandeman’s house in the Douro Valley (you can visit Quinta do Seixo). I felt thoroughly sick by the time we arrived and, after a light supper, went straight to bed.

The next day, I opened the windows. The sun was shining and the view took my breath away. The steep mountains laden with terraces of vines reflected in the still waters of the Douro River with not a sound to be heard. Each time I come back, that view still works its magic.

steep mountains laden with terraces of vines

4) Bordeaux, France

A few years ago, I was researching a book on wine and British history, and I emailed the contact person on the Château Langoa-Barton website. I expected to get the PR brush off - instead a week later my phone rang and a patrician-sounding voice asked to speak to me. It was Anthony Barton, whose Anglo-Irish family have owned the Château since 1824.

He invited me to have lunch with him, so later that year my wife and I turned up in our best attire at the gates of the family’s estate, not far from the city of Bordeaux. Anthony’s wife Eva joined us; it was just the four of us. We drank vintage Pol Roger champagne followed by the 1982 and 1986 Leoville-Barton over a leisurely lunch of gloriously old-fashioned French food. All the while Anthony and Eva treated us like old friends. Afterwards, we caught a flight back to Luton Airport and the whole experience felt like a dream.

A man having a wine

5) Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

This is the trip my daughter still reminds me about regularly. It was a family holiday to the seaside town of Sanlúcar in Andalusia, with its beaches, ice cream and restaurants. It’s also the home of Manzanilla sherry so naturally I made an appointment to look around Hidalgo la Gitana, one of the best producers.

A Man near a bar

We arrived at 11am and immediately Fermin Hidalgo took us for copitas of sherry and jamon. There’s nothing more delicious than a chilled glass of Manzanilla in the morning. We then spent four hours tasting sherry in the bodega, including some 50- and 60-year-old wines straight out of the barrel, before we had one of those typically Spanish lunches that begin at teatime and end when it’s supper time in England. Heaven for the grown-ups, not so much fun for my little girl.

Wine Drums

6) Santorini, Greece

You probably won’t believe me but sometimes the life of a wine writer can be hard work. On press trips you normally have to rise early and then visit so many vineyards and taste so many wines that they all blur into one. But not on a trip to the Gaia Estate in Santorini.

I visited with a small group of journalists a couple of years ago. The owner Yiannis Paraskevopoulos picked us up from the airport and immediately we were on island time. There was no schedule or rush, just plenty of time to slowly appreciate Santorini's  unique wines made from the local Assyrtiko grape: modern versions are piercingly dry and lemony with an almost salty tang, while the old style wine, Vin Santo, is incredibly sweet. The island in May was quiet; the summer tourist deluge wouldn’t start for a couple of months. We swam, drank and ate. If only all wine trips were as languid.

How to Recreate a Holiday to… France


Need a holiday? Don’t we all! Although travelling isn’t an option at the moment, you can still enjoy a little escape by recreating that trip to France you’ve been dreaming of.

You can explore iconic landmarks, soak up the culture and try popular dishes – all in the comfort of your own home. Just think of it as the ultimate staycation! 



How to Have a French Holiday at Home

Oh, France. From the lush vineyards of Bordeaux to the magical thrill of Disneyland Paris, holidays in France are a dream. Why not bring some of that excitement into your living room? To help get you started, we’ve come up with some fun suggestions for recreating a French city break. You’ll get plenty of enjoyment and none of the hassle, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved!  


We’re sure you’ll agree that food is a highlight of any trip to France – and it all starts with breakfast. In France, the first meal of the day is simple but delicious. Grab a few croissants, slice up some crusty baguettes and serve them with butter and jam. If you’re seriously enthusiastic, try baking everything from scratch for that fresh-from-the-boulangerie taste. Otherwise, just shop ahead of time and warm it all up in the oven. Add an espresso into the mix and some hot cocoa for the kids, and you’ve got yourself a French breakfast. 


Once you’ve finished breakfast, it’s time for a spot of sight-seeing! And, luckily, there’s never been a better time to take a virtual wander around the streets of Paris. Google Arts & Culture lets you roam around some of the city’s most famous landmarks, admiring them from all angles. With just a few clicks, you can stroll along the leafy banks of the Seine or head straight to the top of the Eiffel Tower for a bird’s-eye view of the city. For a more immersive Eiffel Tower experience, check out the virtual reality tour videos on YouTube. Some of these tours start at ground level, so you can experience getting the glass lift to the top.




Is there anything better than eating a French crepe after a long morning of sightseeing? We don’t think so! If you’ve ever visited France, you’ll know that crepes are everywhere. And luckily for you, they’re quick and easy to make. French crepes can be sweet or savoury, so a quick rummage in the kitchen should give you all the fillings you need. Cheese always goes down well, as does chocolate, or you could go all out and add vegetables and meat to your crepes. The possibilities are truly endless, so put on your best French apron and get the whole family involved.


If it’s culture you’re after, you’re in luck. You now have the chance to explore some of Paris’ best galleries and museums, without ever leaving your sofa. The Louvre is offering virtual tours that are both educational and fun, so it’s a great time to visit. Explore the Egyptian antiquities collection, wander around the remains of Louvre’s moat or browse the artistic treasures of the Galerie d'Apollon. You won’t see the Mona Lisa on these tours, but that’s all the more reason to plan a future holiday to Paris!




One of the best things about a pretend holiday is that you’re not limited to a particular location - so make the most of your freedom with some dreamy day trips. Google Arts & Culture, your new best friend, lets you explore the magnificent rooms of the Palace of Versailles. Meanwhile, HistoryView is offering an exciting virtual tour of Mont Saint-Michel, an island off the coast of Normandy topped with a medieval abbey. You can also get an aerial view of the popular Unesco World Heritage Site.


Everything’s been building up to this – the main meal of the day. Thankfully,  dinner in France involves multiple courses, so you’ll have plenty of time to savour it (after you’ve cooked up a storm, of course). Dinner usually starts with an aperitif and nibbles – the perfect time to treat yourself to some champagne and olives. The l’entrée, or appetiser, is the official start of the meal and popular dishes include French onion soup, beef carpaccio and cheese soufflé.

Then it’s time to let your imagination run wild, because the main dish typically depends on what region of France you’re in. Follow this with a platter of cheese, along with some bread and fruit. And if you can manage it, finish up with a light dessert of profiteroles, chocolate mousse or a fruit tart. 




France is one of the biggest wine producers in the world, so you might as well embrace it. From the rich red wines of Bordeaux to the crisp white wines of the Loire Valley, deciding what to buy might take some time. Whatever you choose, remember to drink it like the French do by only partly filling your glass and sipping as elegantly as you can.


If you’re struggling to get into the French spirit, don’t give up! Try setting the scene at home with films and music. Carla Brunei is a classic choice. She sings in both French and English and her album, Little French Songs, is a great one to have in the background while you pretend to be on top of the Eiffel Tower. For a song that’s about as French it gets, add Les Champs-Elysées by Joe Dassin to your playlist. Just don’t blame us when it gets stuck in your head!

If film’s more your thing, the charming Amélie is the one to watch. It’s a quirky romantic comedy that follows the life of a naive young woman in Paris who decides to help those around her. She falls in love along the way and hopefully so will you.



Although we can’t promise you the sparkling snow of the French Alps or the sun-drenched beaches of the French Riviera, we can promise you’ll have lots of fun recreating a holiday at home. When travel is back up and running, you can browse our blog for inspiration and check out our range of cheap holidays to France. In the meantime, whip up those crepes, turn on your computer and blast those French tunes!

Loved creating a French holiday at home and are looking for more inspiration? Consider trying your hand at an Italian adventure next!

Date Night Ideas for Parents in Lockdown



Lockdown is a stressful time for all of us as we adapt to a completely different situation from what we are all used to. With many of us having to adapt to working from home, educating our children at home and the restrictions imposed upon us, it can be difficult to make time for ourselves and find time to spend with our partners.

Try Something New

I don’t know about you but my husband and I definitely had to find new ways to have a date night since we can’t go out. We would usually head out for a meal or to the cinema but this obviously isn’t possible right now.

Here are a few things we have been doing:


You might have missed it but many people are doing lockdown quizzes on YouTube and other mediums. We have been spending time doing the Jimmy Carr lockdown quizzes that he uploads daily. We wait a couple of days until we have a few and then sit down with a gin and lemonade and some snacks and see who will win. It can get a bit competitive.

watching a quiz show in tv


Obviously some sports will be out of the question due to space and equipment but there are plenty of things you can do from home. If you like a laugh and aren’t afraid of looking silly in front of your partner, then an obstacle course or something similar should provide plenty of entertainment during the evening!

We’ve been playing a lot of darts recently - we are lucky enough to have an annex room off the kitchen with its own bathroom and utility room. We’ve turned it into a games/gym room and it has been a lifesaver during the lockdown. It keeps us sane!

Dart Board

Keep It Simple

You don’t even need to try something new if you don’t want to. There is nothing wrong with keeping it simple and using the tried and tested at-home date night ideas that you have been for years. 


On date nights, alternate who is cooking for the other. We’ve been spending much more time in the kitchen cooking up some treats, and a home cooked meal will always go down well on a date night at home.

Home made meal in a plate


You may have noticed that many of the film production companies who were due to release their films to the cinema recently have been allowing viewers to buy or rent at home. Why not grab a blanket, some drinks and snacks and purchase a new release for the ultimate at home cinema experience?

Let me know in the comments what date night ideas you and your partner tried during the lockdown!

Our Favourite Group Quarantine Games


Quarantine can get you down, and as the weather gets better, we are dreaming of picnics in the park, pints down the pub and parties on the patio.

Since those things are off the table and we are stuck inside sitting around the table instead, here are some great group games for adults to raise morale. 

Our Favourite Group Games to Play with Friends


3-12 players

This game is pretty straight forward – everyone writes sentences on a slip of paper, folds them up and puts them in the middle. The idea is to write the most outrageous, hilarious or inappropriate sentence and whoever reads out what’s on the paper has to try to keep a straight face. If you smile, giggle or look shocked, you take a drink!


4-8 players

In the same vein as Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme? has a deck of picture cards and a deck of captions. You need to create the funniest meme using one of the caption cards from your hand and the picture card in play. Give your card to the judge (who changes every round) and they will pick the best or funniest combination. Got a dirty mind? You’ll do well at this one! 


2+ players

This downloadable app is buckets of fun. To play, you choose a category (such as ‘Act It Out’ or ‘Blockbuster Movies’) and hold the phone up to your forehead. The other players will then act out whatever is on the screen, be it an accent, an animal noise or something else. There are 60 seconds on the clock for you to guess as many as possible using the clues other players give (or shout at) you. The app also videos the game so you can watch or share the dreadful attempts at a Jamaican accent.


3+ players

Food brings people together. Since you’re already all together under the same roof, why not turn dinner into a bit of a game? You could either do a few evenings consecutively or condense the competition by hosting a course each. Start the game by deciding on a prize for the winner – maybe a tenner or a box of chocolates. Prepare the items on your menu and get the other ‘contestants’ to give their snobby or enthusiastic opinions. You’re aiming to be the host(ess) with the most(est) with your dish - and don’t forget to provide some evening entertainment! At the end of your meal or course, hand out score cards and have the other diners judge you out of 10.  


2+ players

Psych! is a downloadable app that makes a game out of convincing the other players that your answer is the right one - whether it’s true or not.

There are a range of decks like ‘Is That a Fact?’ where bizarre facts are mixed up with the players’ fake facts. All you have to do is put forward an answer in the hopes of psyching someone out and making them choose your entry over the correct one. Get points for guessing right and for tricking other players into thinking your answer is the correct one. All answers, real or not, are pretty bonkers and make for a hilarious game night. 


4-16 players

This party game goes by a few names but whatever you call it, it’s a great laugh. All you need are pens, paper and something to hold the paper (like a hat). If you are a smaller group, you can play individually and if there’s more you, it’s fun to team up and get competitive. 

You decide what category you are playing, like objects or fictional characters. Then each player writes down 5-10 options and puts them into the hat. For the first round, players must articulate what they pull out of the hat, without saying the word or name. For the second round, you have to act it out without speaking. In the third round, players use only one word and the fourth round sees players acting out what’s on the piece of paper while under a sheet. Very silly – what more could you want?  


1+ players

Get off the sofa and get moving with the Just Dance Now app, where you mirror the animated dancers on screen. As you and your competitors follow the choreography, you are awarded for your accuracy and can earn bonus points if you strike the perfect pose. 

Your smartphone is your game controller and you dance with it in your right hand. Your friends can enter the game with their phones by using the dance room code displayed.


4–10 players

Drinking games are a fun way to replace your usual night out, so top up your drink and get ready to play Thumper! Large groups beware - the more people you play this with, the more drunk you’ll get in this memory game. 

Everyone sits around the table and decides on a personal signature hand motion. The game starts with everybody thumping the table, then you do your hand motion followed by someone else’s while the thumping continues. The person whose motion you did repeats these two actions and then someone else’s, and the game continues like that. Whoever makes a mistake or hesitates for too long drinks. 

Add sounds, speed it up and prepare to have a wild one. 

Happy Quarantining!

Now that you have a bunch of fun games to play with your housemates, get the party started at home! If you want some more great ideas for things to do while we wait for the lockdown to come to an end, check out other pieces on our blog!

Books That Will Transport You to Foreign Lands



Being cooped up in our homes during the travel ban can make us forget how big the world really is. There is so much to explore!

While now is not the safest time to travel and we should do our part by staying in, we can still take ourselves across the globe with these fantastic book recommendations. 



The Best Travel Books to Read During the Travel Ban

If you need help deciding what to read next, we’ve got you covered. You can’t go wrong with any of these travel books, whether you’re looking for a true tale that shares the experiences of a nomad or an inspiring story of a traveller looking for the answers to life. Read on for what we consider to be the best travel books of all time. 


Taking baby steps back into the world of travel once the travel ban lifts could be your best bet to getting back into adventuring, especially if you’re tight on cash. Microadventures by Alistair Humphreys is a great book that will give you ideas on how to find adventure close to home. A weekend road trip or an after-work excursion can be just as exciting as a trip to a foreign destination if you know how to make it happen. Let Humphreys be your guide as he documents his adventures throughout the UK. 

Are you letting your taste for foreign food guide your reading during isolation? In that case, The Food Traveler's Handbook by Jodi Ettenberg is the book for you. Your taste buds may be the most powerful tool you have to truly immerse yourself in a new culture. Let Ettenberg make recommendations on where to go for the best street food and guide you to places that will cater to your dietary restrictions. After reading her book, you’ll want to recreate dishes from around the world in your kitchen every night.

In addition to this travel writer’s handbook, Ettenberg authors a blog that’s been featured by BBC and The New York Times, among many other publications. She uses food as her way of making an adventure out of a new place and shares stories of her travels. Her work will encourage you to grab a snack and get reading!




Africa is huge. Spanning from the Middle East all the way down to south of Madagascar, it would take a dedicated traveller to journey across the continent. In Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux, readers follow him through his real-life encounters as he makes the trek across Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town. Theroux’s travels are gritty and real, which is why he’s earned a reputation as one of the greatest travelogue writers out there. You can’t go wrong with this book. 

Australia is a country full of deadly animals and coastline upon coastline. Before you head out for your outback adventure, be sure to read In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. This New York Times Best Seller makes for great summer reading and will have you rolling in the sand laughing as you join Bryson for a day on Australia’s shoreline. There are plenty of books out there that will give you a good synopsis on what to expect when travelling, but this playful guide may be the best book to prepare you for travel in Australia. In a Sunburned Country is sure to entertain and lend a sense of the country’s culture and history through playful storytelling. 

For another bright bit of reading, pick up The Cat Who Went to Paris by Peter Gethers. He and his cat, Norton, will convince you to travel abroad with your furry friend through their adorable tale of travels in France. In the book, Norton does his best to assure the love of Peter’s life that Peter is one she should settle down with. This great travel book gives you a taste of Gethers’ quest with his favourite kitty and takes the reader through Paris.



Why not take a trip back in time through the mountains of France in Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Louis Stevenson? This novel follows Robert and his donkey, Mosestine, on a walking journey. It’s an unlikely friendship at first, but travelling on foot in 1870s Europe has a way of building companionship. Stevenson documents the landscape and stories of those he encounters, so you feel like you’re travelling along with him and good old Mosestine. 

An international best-seller entitled The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho features Santiago, an shepherd boy from the south of Spain who yearns for adventure. This tale takes readers on a journey about chasing dreams and finding hope. It’s more than just a great travel adventure. It will inspire you to travel within yourself to find out what matters most to you, which is perhaps the most powerful travelling one can do. 

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts is a great travel book for anyone who has ever wanted to just drop everything, throw together a backpack and go. He points you in the right direction for you to discover what life is like outside of a 9 to 5, and gives you the confidence you need to navigate a travel-centric lifestyle. If you don’t think you have the time or the funding to travel, pick up this book. 



The travel ban doesn’t need to stall travel completely because you can go anywhere in the world just by picking up any of these terrific book recommendations. Since you can’t travel physically, travel in your mind - you can learn a lot from a good book. Once you’ve finished your latest travel tale, be sure to check out our blog for lots of great ideas on how to spend the quarantine travelling through food and fun. 

Do you have a favorite travel writer or a suggestion on what to read next? Leave a comment and let us know!

How to Find a Pen Pal from Foreign Country


There are so many fun ways to experience cultures other than your own. You could watch a foreign film or cook a meal inspired by a different country. Or you could write letters to someone from across the sea! Pen pals can be from all around the world, and are especially beneficial to have if you’re learning a new language. 

Whether you’re someone who enjoys exchanging letters or someone looking to learn about a different way of life, pen, ink and parchment bring life to the art of making friends from all around the world.



What is a Pen Pal?

A pen pal is a friend who you make through exchanging letters. Usually, a pen pal is someone who you’ve never met, but get to know because you share common interests. You can develop a friendship over time. 

International pen pals are great because they give you an insight into life in another country - a benefit you offer them as well. If you’re learning a foreign language, having a pen pal is an excellent way to improve your grammar and spelling, while telling stories and sharing experiences. 

The Types of Pen Pals


Handwritten letters are a special thing. The time and care that goes into a letter can be felt from the moment it reaches the hands of the recipient. Letter writing gives the writer a chance to slow down and deeply consider what it is they want to say. It’s that deep consideration that gives letters their sentimental value. Plus, there’s something incredibly satisfying about writing with a good pen. 

Many foreign language teachers would argue that writing by hand is the best way to practise accuracy when it comes to grammar in a foreign language. So not only are you sending a little part of your heart to your pen pal via snail mail, but you’re also improving a new skill!

Remember that it’s called snail mail for a reason - the postal service takes time. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a reply from your pen pal right away. It can take a while for a letter to make its way across the world. 



There are some things to keep in mind while you’re drafting your first letter to your new pen pal. You should introduce yourself and share a bit about what you’re interested in. Be sure to ask your pen pal plenty of questions about what they like, too. This will encourage them to reply! 

To make your letter memorable, try to include a little story of something you experienced recently. For example, you could share something you found funny from a movie you saw or you could talk about the TV shows you’re binge watching during quarantine. Make a couple of recommendations for them and ask for their opinions on what they’ve been watching.

Not so keen on writing letters? No problem! There are many different types of pen pals that don’t include snail mail. 


If you are impartial to letters sent by mail, you can still get to know a foreign friend thanks to modern technology. There are multiple digital alternatives to handwriting letters. Many people prefer to email their pen pals, as a free and easy means of communication. Seeing a response from a foreign friend in your inbox is just as rewarding as receiving a letter in the mail. 

It’s normal to check in with your pen pal weekly or bi-weekly, but once you get to talking you and your new friend will find a rhythm of writing that works for the both of you. 




If you prefer to keep conversations snappy, instant messaging is a great option. It’s quick, easy and used almost every day by young people, so you won’t necessarily have to wait a long time for a reply. 

Connecting to your pen pal by sending voice recordings and video messages, and through live video chats are a few other ways to keep in touch with your foreign friend. 

How to Find International Pen Pals from Around the World

Back in the day, those seeking pen pals would put an advertisement in magazines and newspapers. Nowadays, there are plenty of digital platforms to help you find pen pals from around the world. 

Some apps, like HelloTalk, are designed for people looking for friends to practise a new language with. Through text, voice calls, video calls and more, you teach your pen pal your native language while they teach you theirs. You can easily find a foreign pal from a country that speaks the language you’re trying to learn and become connected within minutes. 

Other platforms, like PenpalsNow, offer space for you to advertise your search for a pen pal and offer plenty of preexisting ads for you to comb through, making it simple to find a new friend with interests similar to your own.  

Once you spend some time getting to know your pen pal, you may be surprised by the long-lasting relationship you build. Some pen pals stay in touch for their lifetimes, and others have ended up getting married. You never know how special the bond you’ll build will be until you start writing. 


For language learners, pen pals are the best friends you could have to encourage you to keep studying. Everyone is in the same boat - interested in learning something new about another culture and learning a foreign language.

The pen pal community is not only a place for friendship, but for encouragement and inspiration. It can be such a joyful feeling to correctly draft a sentence in the language you're learning. Everyone wants to be understood. When we can be understood while using a second language, it’s that much more gratifying. 

Do you have a pen pal from a foreign country? Leave us a comment and let us know where they are from and how long you’ve known them! We’re always looking forward to hearing from you. If you’re looking for fun topics of conversation to share with your pen pal, take a look at our other blog posts



Why Now is the Time to Dream of Travel


Getting laid off from my first job after college was the best thing that ever happened to me. 

I didn’t recognize it at the time. Hindsight is 20/20, after all. But those four months of unexpected unemployment gave me time and space to dream big. 

Specifically, I dreamt of making up for the lack of travel in my early 20s with a backpacking trip around the world that would last no less than 12 months. I wrote my goal on a piece of notebook paper, taped it to my bathroom mirror, and spent the next five and a half years working to make it a reality. 

That was 18 years ago. By late 2007, I’d paid off my debts, met my savings goal, resigned from my job as a call center manager, and flown to Tahiti. My trip was a dream come true, and it led to a dream job as a travel blogger, author, and entrepreneur that continues to this day. 

As the world hits pause, and we come to terms with the new normal, I believe now is an opportune time for dreaming. Here’s why.


It’s Easier to Concentrate

As we’ve been increasingly distracted by technology, social media, and the 24/7 news cycle, you’d be forgiven for not noticing how much of a challenge it can be to find time and space to think. Deeply. 

Now that many of us are spending so much time at home, we may feel a slight discomfort with this newfound free time in our day. Rather than loading up the newest Netflix series, how about setting aside some time to journal in a quiet space? Take out a piece of paper and write your biggest dream on it. 

Don’t hold back. What’s it look like? More importantly, what do you imagine it would feel like to live your dream?

In 2002, I imagined the feeling of freedom and independence I’d experience island hopping in French Polynesia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and beyond. I’d had just enough experience backpacking in Europe to know how it might feel to do it elsewhere in the world. 

Don’t worry about how you’re going to make it happen or how long that might take. There will be plenty of time to brainstorm a path forward. For now, your only job is to write down what you want on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. I recommend a mirror. I find it a more powerful experience to see myself versus using a whiteboard or wall.


It’s Easier to Avoid Comparison

In addition to serving as a readily available distraction, social media also plays into our human nature and the desire to compare ourselves to others. Unfortunately, this can make it super easy to feel down on yourself.

In 2002, there were far fewer potential distractions when I was at home unemployed. I had a television, Playstation, and roommate. I didn’t have to contend with the comparison culture that has developed around Instagram, Facebook, and other social media in the last 10 years.

Now that people aren’t traveling as freely as they were before, you may find it easier to let go of checking out other people and focus on what YOU want for your future. Where do you want to go most? 

Start a list in a journal or a Google Sheet so it’s easily accessible any time you want to look at it for a dose of motivation. The wonderful thing about travel is that your list of dream destinations will be never ending. 

In 2002, I thought a year of travel would satisfy me, but I was wrong. After 12 months, the only thing I wanted was to keep going. I’ve now been to 65 countries, and there are still so many places I dream of going.


We Could All Use a Psychological Boost

The last few months have been unlike anything humanity has experienced in the last 100 years. The stress is affecting us all in one way or another. Taking time to daydream about the future you want to create for yourself is a healthy habit. Visualization is a powerful way to train your mind. 

I didn’t think of visualization in this way in 2002. I just liked daydreaming about the faraway places I wanted to visit. Looking back, I credit that freedom of mind with helping me to make my travel dreams a reality. 

Frustrated with my job search, I’d envision myself trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal one day. The struggle to find work and save money would be worth it once I was walking amongst the tallest mountains in the world. Difficult day at work? It’d be a distant memory once I was relaxing on a beach in Thailand

If sitting with your eyes closed and letting your mind run wild with possibilities proves hard, try reading books about travel instead. A little armchair adventure may get your imagination going.


The Sky’s the Limit

I know some (or all) of this may sound counterintuitive, however, I speak from experience. Find ways to use your downtime to imagine a brighter, more fulfilling future. Once you’ve got a goal in mind, then it’s just a matter of working backward to break it up into smaller, more easily achievable short-term goals. With a little dedication and commitment, you’ll be taking your dream trip before you know it.

About the Author

Dave Lee is the founder of Go Backpacking, an adventure travel blog covering destinations around the world. He’s visited 65 countries, lived as an expat in Medellin, Colombia, and has found a new home in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Instagram: @rtwdave

How to Recreate a Holiday to... Italy


Those of us with a passion for travel are probably feeling a bit antsy for adventure after so long safely cooped up in quarantine. Luckily, staying home doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy the many benefits of travel. 

Learning about a different culture or savoring some dishes you wouldn’t find in your neighbourhood can be a great way to ease some of those ants when you find yourself with the travel bug. With these ideas, you’ll be well on your way to recreating a holiday to Italy from home! 



How to Have an Italian Holiday at Home

There are plenty of ways to immerse yourself in an Italian holiday from home. You’ve probably had a plate of spaghetti before, but have you ever delighted in freshly made pasta with parmigiano reggiano shaved right from the block? And we’ve all heard of Leonardo Da Vinci, but have you ever attempted to recreate one of his iconic paintings? Maybe you’re hoping to catch up on the latest Italian news about Mount Etna, as if you had just woken in your Italian hotel. 

One of the best parts about travel is that there are seemingly endless opportunities for adventure. When recreating a holiday at home, it’s all about the fun of doing it yourself. Get out of the comfort of your normal daily routine and be entertained by the process of immersing yourself in all things Italian. 


When you think of Italian cuisine, what comes to mind? If you’re thinking of  gelato, pasta and a steamy little cappuccino, then you’re already familiar with three of Italy’s iconic offerings. 

Italian breakfasts are light and typically feature a cappuccino. If you have a cappuccino maker at home, great! Whip up a cup to be sipped alongside a sweet pastry, and you’re good to go. If you can’t make a cappuccino at home, don't worry. Hot milk with coffee is another Italian go-to.

There are many staples in Italian cuisine. In a country known for its olive oil, it comes as no surprise that pasta is such a delicacy there.  To do it right, you’ll want to make it yourself. You can get as fancy as you’d like with your recipe, but the only ingredients you’ll really need to make the pasta are eggs, flour, olive oil and salt. Top your pasta with a classic Italian tomato sauce or a fresh basil pesto made with parmesan and, of course, plenty of good olive oil.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more savory, you can’t go wrong with risotto alla milanese. It’s easy to make, deliciously creamy and a common choice for Italians craving dinner. 




Exploration of a new place is the cherry on top of travelling for many adventurers. You never know what kind of serendipitous situations you’ll encounter along the way. Italian cities and lakes boast the beauty of Italy, and there are plenty of ways to see the sights without leaving home. You can’t go wrong with a tour of Italy’s hill towns, but because of Italy’s proximity to the sea, I’d recommend starting your tour closer to the shore. 

This tour of the Amalfi Coast takes viewers from the beautiful blue port through the city itself, which is nestled in between magnificent seaside cliffs. Open a window and let the breeze take you there, and get an up close view of the charming buildings that make up Amalfi and feel like you’re part of the crowd, without being crowded. One thing that Amalfi is known for is their lemons, and by relation, their lemon gelato. Grab a cone and savor a scoop of gelato as you explore the city, in true Amalfi fashion. 



The great thing about touring Italy from home is that you have the ability to travel from southern Italy to northern Italy and back again as you please. 

Another place that’s worth viewing is the notorious Lake Como, located in northern Italy. This magical body of water is lined with coastal villages and historic villas. Many artists, poets and writers have coveted Lake Como for centuries, and if you spend any amount of time there you’ll understand why. This Italian treasure radiates romance and majesty. Lake Como is nestled at the basin of lush, rolling green mountains, making visitors feel comfortably secure in this sanctuary. 

While you’re in northern Italy, you might as well make a point to see the five charming towns known as Cinque Terre. This northern coastal region comprises five colourful fishing villages perched along the Italian riviera. Emilia Romagna is another northern region in Italy that offers visitors plenty of opportunities to see medieval architecture and coastal resorts. Perhaps you’re looking to brush up on your knowledge of Italian history through a visit to San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Tuscany. San Gimignano is known for the thirteenth century towers that still stand in the city centre. 




Throughout your virtual travels of Italy, you may begin to feel a sense of the romantic ambiance that emanates from this country. Settle down to watch a movie set in Italy, like Under the Tuscan Sun or When in Rome, and see how the magic of the country moves the characters in these films. 

One of the greatest beauties about Italian culture is, surprisingly, nap time. Taking an hour in the middle of the day to rest and rejuvenate is a common Italian practice. So after you feel spent from half a day cooking and eating, go ahead and take some time to siesta before carrying on with your holiday. 

In alignment with Italian tradition, you’ll want to grab a glass of wine at any point throughout your at-home Italian holiday. Italians are social drinkers. They drink in the company of friends, over a good meal, and aim to compliment their food with either red or white wine. The intent is never to get drunk, but rather to enhance the flavours of the food they’re enjoying. 



Go ahead and grab a holiday drink and a plate of pasta, and feel that breeze as you settle down any of these stunning and historic Italian towns. 

For more ideas on how to enjoy your time while in self-isolation, visit the Teletext Holiday Blog. What are some ways that you’ve enjoyed a holiday at home? Comment and let us know! 

Travel Tunes: Traditional Music from Different Countries


Music has the wonderful ability to take us away from the here and now, transport us back to times we’ve had in the past and allow us to imagine experiences we might have in the future. 

As physical travel is not possible right now, we’re going to introduce some world music we think you’ll love from some of the holiday destinations we offer. You might not be able to visit other countries at the moment, but with some help from the Teletext Holidays blog, at least you can experience different cultures from the comfort of your front room! 

Traditional Music from Around the World


If you’ve ever been to mainland Greece or any of the Greek Islands, you’ll know that music is a huge part of the culture. Greek music is influenced by both the East and the West, which combine to create a distinct sound that forms the backdrop to everything from special occasions to everyday life.

There are four types of traditional Greek music:


Greek folk music can be split into two musical movements: the akritic style, which dates back to the Byzantine Empire in the ninth century AD, and the klephtic style, which dates back to the Greek Revolution in the nineteenth century.



This romantic serenade music originated on the island of Kefalonia at the beginning of the nineteenth century and features three male voices in chorus, typically accompanied by a guitar or mandolin. 



These popular songs, born on the Greek Islands, are played in a variety of styles and often feature a violin, lyra, clarinet and guitar, accompanied by high-pitched female voices or the low voice of a single man. Every island has its own style of singing and dancing.



This well-known style of modern Greek music emerged from underground Turkish-style cafes in the city of Thessaloniki in the 1920s. By the 1950s, it was played in the nightclubs of Athens. The principal instruments in rebetiko music are the bouzouki, the guitar and the baglama.



Musically speaking, Portugal is best known as the home of fado, a passionate, expressive and profoundly melancholic form of singing that you can often hear in Portuguese pubs, cafes and restaurants. Originating in Lisbon and Coimbra, fado is characterised by longing and a feeling of loss; the loss is often permanent. 

If you’re feeling glum, then perhaps it’s best to avoid fado and listen to something a little more lighthearted instead. However, if you’re ready to embrace all the torment, pour yourself a glass of port and have a listen to this: 



Music is the ultimate expression of Moroccan culture. During a trip to Morocco, you can expect to hear ancient folk music from the Atlas Mountains, Arab- and Andalusian-inspired songs in the cities and roots fusion tunes blasting from taxis and cafes across the country.   


The Berbers are the first known inhabitants of the northwestern corner of Africa. A typical scene of Berber music-making looks like this: entire villages gather to sing and dance outside, accompanied by drums and flutes. In Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, professional troupes of Berber musicians called imdyazn travel across the region and perform in village squares and in souks.



Morocco’s Arab-Andalusian classical music evolved more than 1,000 years ago in Moorish Spain and can now be heard throughout Morocco and across North Africa. This extremely structured style of music is performed by orchestras that feature the lute, fiddle, cello, piano and singers. 



This is a more sophisticated style of chaabi (pop) music that emerged in the 1970s and combines traditional Berber music with elements of Western pop, rock, reggae and rap. It usually features the lute, percussion, banjos and electric guitars.  



For a country with a population of less than 400,000 people, Iceland has a remarkably rich musical identity and a vibrant contemporary music scene with a distinct character. Most people’s knowledge of Icelandic music stretches to Björk and perhaps Sigur Rós, but there’s so much more going on. 

Iceland is famous for its heroic ballad poetry, known as sagas, which have been passed down through the centuries since the Viking Age. Sagas can be found in traditional Icelandic folk songs known as rímur, which fall somewhere between singing and chanting. 


Some of the oldest songs still played in Iceland today can be traced back to the fourteenth century. They are typically folk songs about life at sea, love, harsh winters and mythical creatures such as elves and trolls. Due to the island’s isolation, musical influences from other countries didn’t reach it so quickly, which means traditional styles have lasted much longer and remained untouched. 

Hákveða is a specific rhythm most Icelandic folk songs are sung to and remains one of the main characteristics of traditional music. 


Traditional Music for Every Taste

So there you have it: an eclectic array of world music for many different tastes. From the melancholy of Portugal’s fado to the Arab-Andalusian classical music of Morocco, we hope you’ve found some tunes to take you on holiday for an hour or two and make life on lockdown a little more musical. If you need even more entertainment, don’t forget to keep checking out our blog for more ways to help you pass the time and scratch your travel itch.

Motivational Mantras for Travel Mums in Lockdown



How are you doing? Itchy feet? Me too! I can’t remember the last time I spent so many days at home. As a travel blogging family we are always away on holiday or out of the house exploring our home county of Devon.  

I’m an optimist by default, but staying positive during lockdown has been a real struggle. We have had to put many 2020 travel plans on hold and achieving the simplest of tasks has felt like wading through a river of golden syrup. However, we are lucky. We are well and have everything we need at home.

Having said that, I’ve had to think carefully about the tone of my inner voice and my motivational mantras to help me get through each day. 

Travel Blogger with her kids at a beach

My Lockdown Funk

I went freelance three years ago and have worked at home as a blogger and content writer for more than five - so I’m no stranger to managing deadlines and home life. However, lockdown has added a few extra balls for me to juggle.

During the first few weeks I felt a wave of different emotions. Day one of home learning and working around the kids was a cinch. It was novel for the children, and I channelled the powers of Wonder Woman to simultaneously teach phonics to my four-year-old and times tables to my seven-year-old.

At the same time I was mentally planning the hundreds of blog posts I could write in lockdown and shrugging off emails from clients putting contracts on hold. 

It’s no surprise that by day three I was exhausted. My new ‘coworkers’ had no respect for my personal space and had a heartbreaking assortment of questions starting with ‘how long…?’, ‘why can’t I…?’ and ‘when can we…?’ Meanwhile I could see my lockdown to do list fast becoming as unachievable as my 2020 income targets.

I felt disillusioned, inadequate and like I was letting everyone down, including myself. My mental health was suffering for the first time in a long time.

Selfie of a Female Travel blogger showing the hills and beach view

Motivational Mantras That Have Lifted Me Up

Happily, I made it through the first few weeks by retraining my inner voice. Usually it’s sat on my shoulder, Jiminy Cricket-style, telling me to stop procrastinating and making excuses for putting off jobs. When you are your own boss you have to be disciplined to get things done.

Lockdown has called for a different approach. Here’s five motivational mantras that are helping me get through:


I’ve woken up in a positivity slump several times since lockdown began. The difference between the good days and the bad is being aware of my mood from the start and dealing with negative thoughts before they turn into actions. Sometimes a simple treat like an extra few minutes in the shower is all I need to hit reset.


Pre-lockdown I spent most of my days dashing between tasks. Slowing down has been a real challenge - but it’s okay. The world is not going anywhere. 

I’ve been cutting myself some slack and setting aside things that will wait. And I’ve been saying yes to bouncing on the trampoline with my kids, going for long walks and playing board games - because that’s what we need right now. I’ve even discovered a new love of collage!

Travel blogger showing her photos collage


Baby steps are very much the answer to getting through each day in lockdown. I used to set myself weekly and monthly goals. Now I’m not thinking beyond the next 24 hours. Achieving one small task each day is my target. Anything else is a bonus.


And it certainly isn’t in the middle of a global crisis. My kids regularly go doolally without really understanding why. Trying to apply ‘normal’ parenting tactics in this situation just won’t work. The ‘cuddles, screen time, play, snacks and repeat’ method is working for us.


There have been days when I’ve been close to tears - but there have been many more smiles, laughs and ‘I love you’s. And if my kids feel loved in the worst of times then I am doing a great job - end of!

Two kids running towards a garden

Since lockdown began my inner voice has changed. It understands that I can’t control a situation that is totally out of my hands, so why beat myself up about it? Now is a time for us mums - and everyone else - to be kind to ourselves, live in the moment and know that this is not forever. One day soon we will be able to leave the house. The kids will go back to school. And we will be able to travel again!

Do you have any motivational mantras that are getting you through lockdown? Let me know in the comments.



In such uncertain times, the best we can do is take things day by day. With quarantines being enforced worldwide, the reality of the coronavirus outbreak has set in and the mental health of many may be taking a toll. Luckily, there are lots of good news stories out there to help us combat these negative feelings.

From the United States to Italy, positive news stories are coming to light, making us feel warm and comforted. Here are some of the ones we love the most - why not pick your favourite and share it on social media to spread the good news?

Positive News Stories Around the World

Throughout the world, quarantine has been mandated to keep people safe from COVID-19. It’s important for our health and the health of others that we stay at home. Being in one place for days on end can build anxiety, but thanks to Google Arts and Culture, being stuck at home doesn’t mean we have to look at the same familiar walls until the self-isolation rule is lifted. 

Google has partnered with thousands of museums from around the globe to bring the Google Street View feature inside. Now you can spend time immersing yourself in cultures from around the world from the comfort of your own flat. Perhaps you’ll spend time perusing famous paintings by van Gogh, or take a trip across the pond to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The best part is that you can visit as many museums as you’d like, so you can take your time with each and every work of art. 


A few of our frozen friends spent a day exploring the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. In the video below you’ll meet Wellington, a rockhopper penguin, as he greets other residents around the aquarium for the first time. He and his penguin pals were able to spend a day exploring the place they live for the very first time - with the supervision of their caretakers, of course. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic forced the Shedd Aquarium to close, animals who live there aren’t getting the enrichment they usually experience when the building is frequented by animal enthusiasts. Caretakers have gotten creative to provide the animals the same level of interaction they’re used to. With playtime, problem solving activities and open exhibits for the penguins, the temporary closure of the aquarium doesn’t mean the end of fun for anyone. 



A little closer to home, in the canals of Venice, dolphins and fish can be seen swimming for the first time in a long time. With everyone staying home and a significant decrease in tourism in the city, the sediment in the canals that is typically shaken up due to a high volume of boating traffic has had the opportunity to remain settled, leaving the water stunningly clear. 

The floor of these canals haven’t seen the light of day in quite a while. It’s a miraculous thing to not only be able to truly appreciate the elegance of these waters, but to see life thrive within them. Nature really does have a beautiful habit of mending itself. 


Since the pandemic began, Italy has been one of the most heavily impacted countries. Italians, out of an urgent need to spark joy in such tumultuous times, have turned to their balconies to cultivate a cheerful sense of community from safe distances. Balcony concerts are bringing music to the streets and allowing those who are self-isolating to feel a little less alone. 


Perhaps the most charming bit of news to come from the quarantine mandate so far is from Argentina. The mother of a seven-year-old boy, Joaquin, who lost his first tooth tweeted the president inquiring if the tooth fairy was exempt from the quarantine. Not surprisingly, the tooth fairy is able to bravely and safely keep working despite the spread of the coronavirus. 


A beacon of hope shines over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the famous Christ the Redeemer statue has been lit up with the flags of countries battling the coronavirus. This statue represents a monument of hope to people throughout the world. The hashtag ‘praytogether’ has been projected on the statue in multiple languages, reminding the globe that this is a time to come together and have faith that things will get better. 



With the spread of the coronavirus outbreak comes the spread of fear. In an attempt to combat this, Canadians started a 'caremongering' campaign to detract from the scaremongering caused by the pandemic. What is ‘caremongering’? Spreading kindness and care just as quickly as a virus spreads! Examples of this could include sending care packages to those in need or providing a meal to a family with children home from school.

Social media is being used to connect people who wish to benefit from ‘caremongering’, either as someone who wants to help or as someone in need of assistance. This is an especially valuable tool, not only because spreading cheer is desperately needed right now but also because it helps those who are at a high risk of contracting the virus - like healthcare workers - get the resources they need to stay safe.

Story Time: What kind of ‘caremongering’ have you seen in your community? Leave a comment and share your story! The world is in need of positive news, so we would especially love to hear what’s making you feel good these days. 


For other bits of good news, browse our blog posts and maybe plan a fun-filled staycation. It’s important to stay calm while reducing the risk of infection, and creating a relaxing environment in your home is a great way to boost your mental health. So light your favorite scented candle, sip some tea and keep your eyes out for more positive news from around the world.

How to Work from Home



For many people, the current world situation is the first time they’ve been faced with the necessity of working from home. Whether you’ve wanted to be able to do this for a while but your company wouldn’t let you or you never wanted to in the first place, the new reality will take some getting used to.

As a travel blogger who’s been working from a laptop wherever I happen to be in the world, I can help! Here’s a guide on how to get started, how to maintain a routine from home, how to separate your work from your homelife and how to get the most out of working from home.

Mac book with mocktail and camera

Getting Started

So you’re facing the new reality of having to work from home but don’t know where to start. The first thing to do is find a place in your home where you can set up what you need for your work. Things like good light, a comfortable chair and a desk at the correct height (if this cannot be achieved directly maybe you need to improvise by putting shoeboxes on a surface to lift your computer, notebook or other work device up to the right level for your body) are good things to start with.

Luckily, since you’re setting up your home office in one place, you can hopefully leave it as it is once you get it right; since I travel the world and work as a blogger and freelance writer, I have to set up a new spot every time I move!

Once you have set up a designated spot where you can work, you may need to tackle dealing with new technology or interfaces that you’re not used to. Give yourself time and some slack when learning to deal with these things; it’s okay if you don’t get everything right at the beginning, especially in these exceptional circumstances! Start by being kind to yourself and the rest will follow.

Mac book with mocktail and camera 2

Figuring Out Your Routine

At first, you may feel that you have to replicate the routine you had at your workplace exactly at home. However, there are many reasons this might not work for you. You likely now have additional, or simply different, distractions: your roommates or family around you while working, chores beckoning for your attention and acting as potential procrastination techniques or new technology to deal with.

For those reasons (and more), it’s unrealistic to imagine that your routine working from home can be identical to how it was at your office. I constantly have to make allowances for variation in routine as I travel, depending on where I am, the time zone I’m in and so on.

Many people find that when working from home, having specific clothes to do so helps get them in the mindframe of being productive and focused on their work. This may not work for you, however; you may be able to work perfectly fine in your PJs. As a general rule, you should be wary of all-encompassing advice that prescribes how working from home should and should not be done.

That being said, allow yourself to find a rhythm that genuinely works for you. It may be the case that going out for a walk or run, doing yoga, meditating or doing an at-home workout in the morning before starting work helps to get your head in gear to transition from being at home to being at work - even if you never did that before when going to your workplace.

In short, give yourself time and space to find a routine. You won’t be effective in your work if you simply try to force yourself into action each day: again, be kind and gentle with yourself.

Reading a blog on laptop

Separating Work Life from Home Life

Given that you’ll be working and living in the same house, apartment or even room for the foreseeable future, having a healthy work/life balance is more important now than ever. Start by trying your best to stick to your work start and end times, taking a lunch break away from your work spot and conducting your work on a specific device while keeping another for personal use, if you have that option. Eventually, as you develop a functional routine, these things should fall into place.

If you are struggling to separate your work from your home life, make an effort to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances who are also starting to work from home - but perhaps have completely different jobs - and share your progress and struggles with each other. A fresh perspective can often help to shed light on what is and is not working for you, as well as present possible solutions. Maybe even getting in touch with your favourite blogger is a great idea right now; they may have some handy tips that you hadn’t thought of!

A macbook and coffee on a table



Is the self-isolation mandate put in place in light of COVID-19 keeping bae at bay? The most important thing we can do is keep ourselves and others safe and healthy during this time - but, unfortunately, the love boat can still set sail despite long days in the loft together.

Even couples quarantined apart shouldn’t have to miss out on la vie en rose. Date night might not be what you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! There are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to keep your romantic relationship riveting. 



Couples in Quarantine

Are you shacked up with your quarantine valentine or finding yourself isolating alone and effectively entering into a long distance relationship? Regardless of whether you’re living with your partner or not during the quarantine, you can still have a healthy and romantic relationship. With a few date night ideas and a positive attitude, you and your partner won’t even realise a quarantine is taking place. 


The spread of the coronavirus is alarming, to say the least. Instead of making assumptions about how your partner is feeling, openly check in with them and allow them to tell you. After all, they are an individual with their own perspective. Assuming that they feel the same way as you about things such as the quarantine mandate and the news could draw the love boat toward treacherous waters. 

You can spend time every now and then having calm discussions about the state of the world. Even if you and your partner don’t share the same opinions, it’s good to understand one another and establish a stream of open dialogue. Nothing is more romantic than actively listening to your partner and accepting what they feel without judgement. 

Mealtimes can also be a great time to check in with each other. You could even dress up, as if you were going to a restaurant, and have a fun date cooking with each other. When you finally sit down to feast, light a candle, play some music and enjoy the moment. Share stories of positive things you’ve read recently. Then, let your body language do the talking - hold eye contact to remind them that it's okay to be vulnerable. Remember that if you’re a quarantined couple, you’re also a team. You are getting through this together. 



At Home Date Night Ideas

We’ve already gone over making a meal together, but what about nights when you just don’t feel like cooking? Set up a ‘picnic’ in your living room with plenty of blankets and pillows. Gather a basket and your favorite plates while you await the knock on your door from your Deliveroo driver. After dinner, you can share ice cream and teach your partner a new card game before settling down to watch a movie.  

For those not quarantined together who are yearning to spend time with their significant other, FaceTime offers the perfect avenue for good communication. You and your partner can pick out a recipe and make it ‘together,’ while safely in your separate homes. Compare how your meals turned out over video chat. 

While you’re enjoying your meal with your partner, decide on a show you want to binge watch together. Watch it separately or through Netflix Party, and compare notes about each episode and how you think the show will turn out. This can be a great way to cultivate some common ground and build shared experiences other than being mutually isolated during the pandemic.  




Partners apart during self-isolation have a uniquely romantic opportunity. Since the coronavirus has turned into a global pandemic that is being experienced worldwide, it’s an event that will likely go down in history. What better way to document your experience during this historical moment than with love letters? 

Sending snail mail while in isolation will give you and your partner something to look forward to. You could even slip something special in with your letter, like stickers or temporary tattoos, for a bit of whimsy. Drafting beautiful pieces of post gives you a moment to settle down and focus on something creative. Have fun writing your letters, and let yourself express your emotions through ink. 

You and your partner could also take a moment to draft an endearing letter documenting your experience, whether you’re apart or together during the quarantine. Sending a letter you’ve written together to friends and family will surely put a smile on their faces. 



Remember that staying connected in your now long distance relationship doesn’t mean you have to chat every day. A daily play-by-play can begin to feel like a chore more than a meaningful sign of care. Give yourself and your partner the opportunity to miss each other. When you finally receive a letter or a bit of happy news from them via text or DM, it will be all the more significant and gratifying. 

Travelling to and from your partner’s home during the quarantine may be a no-go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with them planning your next getaway for when things are safer. Putting together your dream holiday could be an entertaining date night that offers plenty of opportunities for inspiration. 

If you’re apart, you can do this over the phone or FaceTime or create a fun quiz to help your partner decide where they’d like to go. If you’re living with your partner, decide on your next destination and dress the part. Pack a bag as if you were going to leave for a beach getaway, and challenge each other to use everything that was packed in one day.

We’d love to hear if you’ve tried any of these date night ideas in your own relationship. Leave us a comment and share your experience, or detail different date ideas that have been fun for you!



Check out our blog for more posts on how to make it through the quarantine, and be sure to share your favourites with friends and family through social media. After all, keeping connected to those you love by sharing positive stories is a great way to stay in touch without touching. 

My Best Travel Memories Inma A World To Travel



While it’s been almost three months since I came back from my last adventure, and I am still unsure when I will be able to travel to far-flung destinations; I cannot complain as my heart grows fond with more great memories than I could have ever forecasted.

From having lunch at a Sikh temple in India to feeling at home in Cuba, here are some of my favorite moments after 20 years of travel.

Famous Sikh Temple at India

Endless Hospitality While Solo Traveling in India

As much as I love traveling with my significant other, family, and friends; nothing can replace solo travel.

On the other hand, Indian culture has always fascinated me, and it was just a matter of time to fall for the country head over heels. After a first month-long incursion from Kerala to Delhi in 2014, I came back a couple of years ago to explore the Northern provinces of Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh. 


That’s how I got to share the most nourishing yet simple lunch with thousands of people at Golden Temple’s Langar in Amritsar. Based on donations and run by volunteers, this Sikhism mecca serves the same vegan food to over 100000 people daily, 24/7 in the common canteen within its premises regardless of faith. 

It lasted for about 10 minutes - a trifle after the 5 hours I was in the temple. But feeling part of something so superior to yourself is priceless.

Sunset View of Langar at Amristar


In this same country, while traveling in the General Compartment of an Agra to Delhi train, I was able to witness the extreme hospitality of Indian people towards foreigners. Tickets for every other class were sold out weeks ago, and with no seat assigned and hardly any room to breathe, chances were I would be standing for the whole ride. How wrong I was. 

Among the tangle of people, right after stepping in the train with my heavy backpack, a person kindly offered me a place to rest on a bench. Sitting with my belongings on top of my legs, the journey became much more bearable than I could have anticipated.

During another train journey, I was also able to experience how sharing a compartment with a family is the best thing that can happen to you if you are a solo female traveler. A friendly glance from the mother in a Mumbai to Udaipur train was enough to be invited to sit with them for the majority of the long journey, sharing tales and food throughout it.


Everyone knows that happy and perfect tales are plain boring. It is the decisive moments in a person's life that make the difference. While taking their toll, they shape our character and finally, turn into great growth opportunities.

Without being a life-threatening situation, that happened to me the first day I tried my luck trekking around the Annapurnas’ outskirts, in Nepal. 

After climbing more steps than in the rest of my life, I realized my fitness level was perhaps not enough to keep up with the group. Five days of hiking up to an altitude of 3300 meters awaited us in the Mohare hill trek and, if the intensity of the first hours - which had me on the verge of fainting - was going to be the dominant trend, I had no choice but to abandon. 

A Girl enjoys hill top vacation in Nepal

A timely withdrawal is a victory, Napoleon would say.

But I toughened up, and after reasoning with the guide I understood that I could follow at my own pace for the rest of the stage that day as the route was well marked. It took a while and lots of sweat, but I did it. And so one of the best weeks of my life began.

I will never forget things like having breakfast with the highest mountains on earth as a background or meeting the fascinating and brave people who live there. Without the possibility of getting around in a vehicle, they have to walk long distances to get supplies or simply teach at school.

It wasn’t all rainbows from then on, don’t misunderstand me. We caught the beginning of the monsoon season and rains brought fresh fun such as slippery terrain and lots of leeches. But how would we feel alive without those life joys?

Blending with Cuba

Beautiful Cuban City with Beach view

I stopped counting countries when they surpassed fifty. 

Such a number was reached thanks, among other things, to my many jobs as a travel guide taking groups to dream destinations such as Canada, the United States, and the French Alps during my 20s.

I then kept traveling but it wasn't until last February when I decided to lead groups again after 6 years focusing on other endeavors.

And so I got to travel with an amazing group of people through Cuba's Westernmost part.

How do I begin to explain what I felt there? 

A culture so close to mine, a language I could speak flawlessly, such special people who are still checking in with me after spending only a couple of days together. It had been a long time since I felt such closeness to a destination, mainly because after gallivanting around Europe I focused on distant and exotic destinations for several years. 

I guess it was time to return to my roots.

Thank you, Cuba, for reminding me of who I am and where I come from.

Born and raised in Spain, Inma is the co-founder of the sustainable travel blog, A World to Travel.

Teletexts Guide To Quality Wine At Supermarket


Ho-hum. Another day of lockdown. There’s really only one place you can go, and that’s your local supermarket.

This is a place you’ve been visiting for years, of course, but in the past it’s been second choice to going out to a restaurant or the pub. And in the past, perhaps you tended to get the same things each time, the three P’s of home-based cuisine – pasta, pesto and plonk.

Now that our normal activities are on hold for a while, why not take this opportunity to become an oenophile (a fancy word for wine lover)? Becoming a wine expert capable of choosing the best supermarket wine can put a little thrill of excitement into your next visit to the shop. (Hey, we take our excitement where we can find it these days.) 



The Teletext Guide to Becoming a Supermarket Wine Expert

Do a little research before you go. There’s a very handy source, arranged by supermarket chain, that lists the available wines and a little something about them. There are also several helpful wine apps out there. Try Vivino, Delectable and Cellartracker for starters.

Choosing the best supermarket wine

Clutch your iPhone tightly like the lifeline it is, because once you get to the supermarket, you are going to be confronted by row upon row of wines, all shouting, Buy me! Buy me! Red wine, white wine, rosé wine, sparkling wine, sweet wine, dry wine, full-bodied wine, domestic wine, international wine... and there you are, dancing around the other vino shoppers to maintain proper social distancing whilst trying desperately to make a choice.

Read the back label. Most wine labels read like romantic novels: ‘This voluptuous pinot noir entices with intimate hints of chocolatey velvet underlaid with seductive notes of vanilla, basil and pine cones, enchanting your senses with its bewitching overtones of captivating balsam, musk and lavender. Like a refreshing spring rain, it pairs well with beef wellington, caviar and Indian takeaway’.

Reading these labels can keep you entertained for hours without ever opening a single bottle – but since you are actually considering consuming some wine, prepare by absorbing some basic wine vocabulary. Somewhere within that flowery description you’ll probably find some useful information, like whether the vino is sweet or dry. 



Ignore the front label. Don’t be seduced by appearances. That’s probably good advice in general, but in wine-related matters it means that a wine called ‘Adorable Cat’, whose label features a picture of an adorable cat, is not necessarily what you want to serve with dinner, even to people who really like adorable cats.

You should also be aware that advertising is not necessarily an indication of a good product. What?! Seriously?! Yeah, we all know this already – but we often fall for it anyway. A lot of fancy claims winemakers trumpet on their bottles, words like ‘Grand Reserve’, ‘Gold Medal Standard’, ‘Grand Vin’ and the like, actually have no recognised meaning in the trade. They just sound good.



Consider the economics. The more you’re willing to pay, the better the wine is likely to be. That’s not always the case, of course, and you can take that equation only so far – without unlimited funds at your disposal, there’s little sense in spending £80 for a bottle of primo vino when you could buy eight bottles of very decent wine for £10 each. But there’s this little issue of VAT: there is a standard VAT imposed on all wine, regardless of its base price, so when you subtract that fixed amount from the price of a very cheap variety, it doesn’t leave a lot left over for actually producing a good vino.

Do wine aisle gymnastics. Grocers are known for placing the items they particularly want to sell you in the most Look at me! kinds of displays, so stand on tiptoe and crouch down to check out everything that’s on offer.

How to pick a wine for dinner

Traditionally, the rules were pretty clear: white wine with seafood, red wine with red meat. (We don’t know what wine went with vegetarian dishes because in the old days there were no vegetarians, or at least not any who were out of the closet.) These days vino experts (that’s you now) have loosened up, going with the obvious flow that what tastes good, tastes good, full stop. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should throw out all considerations of wine pairing, of course: what goes with your Sunday roast might not work so well with tapas.



How to pick a dinner for wine

With all this wine experimentation, you are going to want some really good meals to go along with it. And since we can’t go on holiday just yet, here are some delicious international recipes you can create, properly socially distant, in your own kitchen. You could invite your friends and family to a virtual dinner party: everybody making the same recipe and drinking the same wine.

Drink Your Way to Mental Health

Psychologists say (well, probably) that cultivating an interest is good for your mental health. Yes, endlessly rewatching comfort TV episodes counts as an interest, but you could also take on a long-term wine project. You could become an expert, someone who knows their regions and their grapes and their vintages. This could turn out to be a fun hobby even when we’re free to live out in the world again.



If you’re really gung-ho, consider going old school and reconnecting with paper: remove the wine labels from bottles, paste them into a notebook and write up accompanying descriptions of the variety of the wine, the circumstances under which you drank it and how much you enjoyed it. (Example: I drank this impish yet sophisticated Beaujolais alone whilst listening to sad music, crying and wishing I could leave my flat. It was good, but next time I’ll buy two bottles.)

Oenophiles Forever!

We are going to get past these troubling times, and you can come out the other side with a wine education and a reputation for choosing the perfect vino. When you can go to the pub again (oh, how we miss the old Goat and Whippet!), you’ll no longer be saying, ‘White wine, please’ – it’ll be ‘A glass of your finest New Zealand chardonnay, my good man, with just a touch of spicy fruit flavour and a soupçon of wood smoke’.



Wine can’t protect you from the coronavirus, of course, but it can protect you from the effects of boredom resulting from the lockdown… and we all need as much of that as we can get right now! Our other interesting blog posts are specially designed by experts to help keep you from running screaming into the night. Stay strong. Soon we’ll be in some delicious foreign destination, signalling the waiter to bring our favourite wine to our table.

The Reality of Working from Home with Cats



We all know how much we love our cat companions, but how easy is it to be with them 24/7 while you are meant to be working from home during a lockdown? Well, let’s see how Marc from Katzenworld has fared during his lockdown!

The Morning Routine

You’d think there shouldn’t be much difference with this as you get up as normal, serve your cat overlords their breakfasts and have a shower to get ready for work as usual despite, of course, not leaving your home.

But alas not… so you’ve just had your shower and are thinking Ah I could really do with a coffee before starting to work - you know, just like the coffee you’d pick up on the way to work. Just as you settle down at your PC with your nice hot coffee one of your little companions will pop up on the desk and demand breakfast part two.

But hold on a second… who gives them the second breakfast after the humans have left for work?!? Well, apparently no work is to be permitted until the second serving has been put out… so downstairs we go again to put out some more wet food before heading back to the now not so hot coffee.


After a morning filled with Zoom calls it time to pack up some marketing samples before grabbing some lunch.

A cat resting on envelopes

Well, easier said than done… because your companion decided that the envelopes were put out for him as the newest addition to his collection of cat beds!

So you change your plans and have lunch first, thinking since he is asleep you can have your lunch in peace and quiet - but of course human food is far more interesting than anything else so he demands to join you for lunch!

Mind you that dry food was available this whole time but hasn’t been touched by any of your four companions. Why would they eat dry food when they have the humans around 24/7 to give them wet food on demand!

The Afternoon Work Meeting

After a slightly disrupted morning keeping the feline overlords happy it’s time for an important call with your boss. However… this is when Mr. Renegade decides that it’s not enough that you know that you are his human. He also has to make sure that everyone else on the other end of the telephone knows as well!

A Cat plays with a telephone with his master

It’s just as well that I work for a cat company and my boss loves cats, otherwise I am not sure he would find his conversation with Renegade as much fun as little Rennie did.

How to Work from Home with Your Pets

But now on a more serious note… what can you do to ensure that you get your work done during lockdown while not falling out with your beloved companion over constantly needing attention?

Whether your companion is a cat or a dog, I would recommend creating a nice little resting place for them that is near you. This could be under your desk, in a corner or even a section on your desk if it’s big enough.

Two cats posing for a photo on memory foam

I opted for a nice comfy memory foam cushion just next to the printer for a little cosy area! And it certainly has made it a lot easier to work with the cats around as they tend to sleep there or watch me (or the birds outside!) from their cushion while I am able to get some work done.

You can also provide your companion with extra stimulation through toys and puzzle feeders, which will help keep them entertained while you are busy with your work.

And don’t worry… we still love each other. But I am sure, like us, the cats are looking forward to a return to normality!

The Best Places to Visit Once Lockdown is Over


Lockdown might seem like a strange time to look up the best places to visit in the world, but it actually makes a lot of sense. As humans, it’s only natural that we miss not only everyday social contact, but the sense of escape and adventure that comes with a trip abroad. 



The Best Places to Visit in the World - Once the World Reopens Again 

With all of us confined to our homes over the last few weeks, it’s no surprise that we’re already turning to travel websites for holiday ideas and inspiration. 

Whether you prefer relaxing on a beach with a cocktail, the hustle and bustle of big cities or exploring history in museums and ancient cities, there’s something on this list of top holiday destinations for you. 

Long Haul Destinations 

The USA 

Orlando, Florida 

Less a city than a major brand name in global tourism, Orlando is the main reason holidays to Florida have become some of the most famous and sought after all around the world. While the sunshine state has a lot to recommend, Orlando’s appeal can be summed up in two words: ‘theme parks’. 

Universal has perhaps the best mix of high-octane thrills and bright and colourful surroundings. However, Disney World is easily the biggest name in the region, enthralling children and families for decades - and with the opening of the Star Wars-themed ‘Galaxy’s Edge’, its attraction is only set to grow. 



New York City, New York 

While Orlando is perfect for resorts, New York City is one of the most vibrant, buzzing cities in the entire world, with a truly staggering range of attractions across its various neighborhoods. 

There are some things that are essential for first-timers - a trip to the Statue of Liberty, for instance, or catching a show on Broadway. But this barely scratches the surface of all there is to see and do here - for those who fall in love with the city, one visit is never enough. 



Las Vegas, Nevada

Famous the world over for its glitz, glamour and gambling, Las Vegas more than earns its reputation, with astonishing high-end restaurants and more lights and wonder than you can see anywhere else in the world. 

It’s worth going a little off the beaten track too, though, with the surrounding desert offering unique Wild West vibes. The city even has a Mob Museum dedicated to the legendary organised crime syndicates that made the city what it is today. 



The Caribbean 

As one of the most popular destinations in the world year after year, there are more than enough reasons to make your first post-lockdown holiday a trip to the Caribbean. Travel is easy, with a huge number of regular, direct flights from locations around the world, and once you arrive, there’s a huge range of things to do, from wellness spas and romantic getaways to scuba-diving and snorkelling in the warm turquoise waters. 

Even better, for anyone starved of close contact and crowds, top destinations like Jamaica and the Virgin Islands have lively, fun-filled carnivals. What better way to banish those social distancing blues than with a huge party? 




A glittering, modern metropolis on the edge of the desert, Dubai is truly one of the most unique and best places to visit in the world. Take a trip up the iconic Burj Khalifa to see the city from atop the world’s tallest building, go shopping in the ornate, enormous Dubai Mall and enjoy the excellent food and drink. 

For a taste of unique Middle Eastern culture, meanwhile, you can take a camel-back desert safari, shop in the bustling souks and check out the Dubai Museum in the old Al Fahidi Fort. While it’s easy to come here only for the modern marvels, it’s well worth learning a little about the past to truly appreciate just how special this city is. 



Short Haul Destinations

The Canary Islands 

With famous destinations like Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, as well as a variety of smaller islands, the Canary Islands are truly a top holiday destination. Plus, they’re far closer than the Caribbean, making them perfect for those who don’t like long flights or just don’t fancy the jet lag. 

There are seven islands to choose from, and their locations off the African coast all but guarantees good weather - perfect for enjoying the wonderful, diverse landscapes. They also have a unique Spanish-influenced culture to explore and familiarise yourself with. 




Of course, if you’re looking for a chance to practice your Spanish, you can always go to the Spanish mainland itself. While the Canaries are owned by Spain, the mainland has its own unique attractions, and is affordable and easy to access. 

There’s a huge amount to see and do here. Think great beaches and golf resorts in the south, a mix of ancient cities and modern metropolises and some world-class architecture and art to enjoy, from the works of Picasso to Gaudi’s unique buildings dotted around Barcelona.

Add in the excellent dining experience that is a tapas meal, Europe’s sunniest average climate and a huge wealth of natural beauty, and you have an absolutely world-class destination practically on your doorstep. 




Straddling the border between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey has always been an attractive destination for travellers, from imperial emissaries and conquerors to merchants and modern-day tourists. 

Ancient cities and museums offer glimpses of the huge range of different civilisations that have lived year over the years, from the Ottoman and Byzantine empires to even older inhabitants dating back as far as 25,000 years ago. 

On top of this, there’s also an astonishing amount to do here, with some excellent beaches, world-famous food and activities ranging from paragliding and rock climbing to white-water rafting.



We hope this list of the best places in the world to visit once lockdown is over has given you some inspiration. Even if you’re not in a position to make travel plans right now, it can help to remind yourself that this won’t last forever - and that once we can go back to our normal lives, there’s a whole world to explore. 

In the meantime, if you’re looking for more travel inspiration, why not check out our other excellent blogs

10 Tips For Surviving Lockdown With Kids



As everyone keeps saying, these are unprecedented times. We are in the middle of lockdown across the UK and many families have been stuck at home together now for the same length of time as the summer holidays.

At this point, you may be at the end of your tether, wondering how you’ll cope at home any longer and looking for ways to keep the whole family happy whilst working, doing schoolwork and keeping everyone fed and watered.

Little boy trying to cook at kitchen

How to Survive Lockdown with Kids

Living through lockdown is different for everyone. People live in all different types of homes, they have families of different shapes and sizes and they have varying living conditions. The one thing that ties us all together is the urge to get through this, to do our bit and to eventually see the end of the coronavirus.

Here are a few tips to help you and your family get through lockdown with your sanity still intact and still loving each other at the end of it.


At times like this, the juggle is real. There will be jobs to do, schoolwork for the children to do, meals to cook, rooms to clean, washing to do - an endless list of tasks to get through each day. When it comes down to it though, the most important thing is just getting through. It’s about surviving. Take each day as it comes, do what you can and if you get to bedtime then you have won another day.


It can be easy to see all the jobs you need to do and feel stressed and anxious about them all building up - but you can only do what you can do. Write a list each day of the things that really need to be done, take your time working through them and anything extra you achieve is a bonus.


Your children will all have differing needs depending on their ages and abilities. If you can give them activities to do that can be done without constant supervision it will obviously make things easier.

This could be doing a jigsaw, working through an educational app or a worksheet that school has given, reading a book, colouring in or even just watching TV. If your children have chunks of time where they can focus on a task it will free up time for you to work or do other things that you need to do.

A Little drawing on a paper


If you have more than one child they could work together to accomplish tasks or to do schoolwork. An older sibling could listen to the younger one read or read to a younger one for a storytime session. They could create fun activities to do together or could work together to accomplish building a fort or tower.


Most children really love to have a routine and know what they’ll be doing each day. Maybe have a typical school day where everyone is up and ready by 9am, a morning break, lunch break and free time once the schoolwork is done. Then dinner, bath and bed.

Routines don’t have to be too regimented so find one that works for you. It could be a full school timetable, free flowing activities that you decide on as you go or even nothing more than a wake up time and a bedtime with daily exercise at some point in between.


Many families would not cope without their daily stint of exercise. Vary what you do each day - walk, scoot, cycle and go on a different route every time. Have a game of nature bingo - spotting insects, trees or flowers whilst you walk.

Some families will prefer having their walk at the same time each day but others may find it best to skip a day every now and then or just leave the house when the whole family needs it most - in the morning to get them set up for the day or in the mid-afternoon when tempers are strained. A walk always does the world of good.

A father with his children walking in the evening


The daily outing doesn’t need to be your only exercise and many families have loved doing the Joe Wicks workouts each morning. Home exercises can be a great way of keeping children occupied whilst seeing a health benefit too. Everyone seems to feel better after they’ve been moving for a while!


There are so many jobs that need to be done in every family home so why not enlist the children’s help as part of their day? Children can help make beds before the day starts in the morning and they can help to sort washing into colours ready for the washing machine.

Have a home economics lesson each day where the children learn to make a meal or bake a cake together. You could have gardening lessons and grow seeds in the garden, on a balcony or even on a window ledge.

A boy working on plants in the garden


As much as we would all love to have a routine and do all the work that is set out whilst doing our day jobs from home and cooking a nutritious dinner, sometimes something has to give.

At times like this we all need to give ourselves a break, have lower expectations and just get through the day. Have picnic dinners in front of the TV, eat whatever is in the cupboards or fridge, sack off the schoolwork for a day, let the children use their tablets for longer than they usually would... do what you need to do to get through.


Every child and every family across the country are doing the same thing - trying to survive this new normal. Try not to worry about how much work the children are doing, how much screen time they’re having or whether they’ve had too many snacks. Just get through it - it will all be ok in the end.

A Little boy playing games in a tab

How to Enjoy Lockdown with Kids

Lockdown for most families will be about survival but it can also be fun. It’s extra time together that many families don’t usually have and children will look back and remember how much time they spent with their parents and siblings.

Let the children have sleepovers in each other’s rooms, camp in the garden, have a movie night with sweets and popcorn or eat pizza in the garden. There are no set rules at the moment and you are free to make up new rules that work for you and your family. Make this time fun if you can, try to enjoy as much of it as you can and if all else fails - watch TV, go for a walk and hug the kids. You are doing your best, remember that.

Managing My Finances in the Coronavirus Lockdown


It's spring 2020 and I should be travelling by train somewhere in the south of Italy, eating pasta and drinking prosecco. But in the last couple of months the world's been turned upside down because of a virus we'd never even heard of a year ago. And in these new times of coronavirus, I'm more excited getting hold of a supermarket online delivery slot than I was about booking a holiday.

We've had to learn a whole new vocabulary and a new way of life – from social distancing and flattening the curve to Zoom quiz nights and Clap for Carers. Our social and work lives have gone virtual and even time outside is being rationed. Coronavirus has also given us a whole new collection of things to worry about. As well as the big concerns about ourselves and our friends and families getting sick, finances have also become a big worry for many of us.

I've been blogging for almost 10 years and made a business out of travel, which is based on people planning and booking trips. But with travel bans taking holidays off the table at the moment, no one's going anywhere. My income has plummeted and I've no idea when things will get back to normal – and what the new version of normal is going to look like.

And it's not just bloggers and the travel industry who are being impacted, but a whole range of freelancers, self-employed people and small business owners who are having to work out what coronavirus means for their businesses. So what can we do to help make ourselves feel more secure at a time when there's so much uncertainty? Here's some of the ways I've been managing my finances during the coronavirus lockdown.


Cut Down on Expenses

One of the benefits of lockdown life is that it's harder to spend money – there won't be any meals or drinks out, shopping trips or holidays for a while. And there's been a huge boost in freebies being offered, from online workouts and theatre performances to apps and audiobooks. I've been getting my travel fix with virtual tours and learning a new language with Duolingo.

Shopping around for the best-value suppliers for household bills is one of those things which tends to lurk on the 'to do' list. But having more time at home's a good opportunity to look at what you're paying and whether you can save. Some companies are being more cautious but there are still good deals around – I've managed to cut my gas and electricity costs from £46 to £39 a month and my mortgage from £520 to £440 by signing up for new fixed deals.

Being self-employed usually means having a pretty erratic income – and a lot of chasing invoices – so creating a proper budget can be difficult. But having a basic spreadsheet with all your fixed expenses listed does help give you a better idea what the minimum you need to earn to live off is. And if I earn any more then I've been putting the extra into a savings account so I can use that to top up my income in the leaner months.

It's also worth double checking all your standing orders and direct debits to make sure you're not paying for things you're not using, like gym or cinema memberships. A lot of companies will let you 'pause' subscriptions for a few months – I've got a wine club membership that I've been able to put on hold. And if you're worried about paying your bills, three-month payment holidays are available for many mortgages, credit cards and loans, to take the pressure off in the short-term.


Apply for Support

Many employed people are eligible to be 'furloughed' by their company if they can't work. And if you're self-employed the government is setting up a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – a taxable grant of 80% of your monthly profits up to £2,500. I've been self-employed for nine years so will be eligible for the scheme, but if you've newly self-employed, a company director or earn over the limit of £50,000 you won't be included. There are other options like Universal Credit and business loans that you might be entitled to – and the July 2020 income tax payments have been postponed until January 2021, which takes some pressure off.

Develop Extra Income Streams

Working in a new industry like blogging means getting used to things constantly changing, which is a bonus when it comes to adapting in a crisis. With the travel blogging industry in hibernation, there've been lots of bloggers taking on new projects – ebooks, online teaching, selling photos, freelance writing or starting new blogs in different subjects.

Other people have gone back to old jobs or started new ones. I work as a freelance editor and proofreader alongside my blog so I still have some non-travel clients I'm doing some work for. It's not a great time to be job hunting, but there are a few opportunities around, especially for temporary work in industries like supermarkets and mail-order companies where demand's really soared since lockdown.


Finding Out More

With so much stress and uncertainty at the moment, taking a bit of time to look at your finances can help you feel more in control. The coronavirus situation's changing so fast that it's really important to get the most up-to-date information. As well as the official government website, some of my go-to resources are the Money Saving Expert and the Money Advice Service sites.

The Funniest Coronavirus Tweets Memes


Things have moved incredibly quickly over the last few weeks, and you’re not alone if you’re feeling a little disoriented. How many of us could honestly say we’d heard of social distancing this time last month? Now it’s a fact of life, and many of us are stuck at home, working from home or only going out behind a face mask with a bag full of hand sanitisers. 

With all this going on, no one would blame you for needing a good laugh. 

We’ve compiled this list of some of our favourite coronavirus memes, tweets and more. A sense of humour is crucial in a crisis, and we’ll run through some of the benefits of laughter - to make sure you don’t feel guilty when you’re cracking up at our list! 


We’ve all been there. You’re stressed, completely worn down, just at your wits’ end. You’re maybe even snapping at people you love. It’s no fun, for you or for anyone else. It’s nothing to feel ashamed about, of course, and we’ve all been there… but it’s still pretty unpleasant. 

Luckily, there is a way out, and it’s a pretty simple one. It doesn’t require any medicine or expensive therapy, or even something as simple as meditation - although all of those solutions certainly do have their time and place. No, the way out is often as easy as having a good laugh. This won’t apply to everyone, of course, and we wouldn’t ever want to make light of those who are really suffering. However, a sense of humour is important in times of crisis, and we hope to help you get through with a smile on your face. 


There are some well understood scientific reasons that laughter increases your overall joy and lifts your mood. While we’re not going to give you a full-on science lecture, we can sum things up. 

First, the simple chemistry. When we laugh, we release dopamine and endorphins - two of the chemicals behind almost all your good feelings. This gives us a good start to feeling better, but it doesn’t end there. We also associate laughter with a good time - for whatever reason, we make this weird involuntary set of noises when we’re enjoying ourselves. So when we’re laughing, we become convinced we must be enjoying ourselves. 

It’s sometimes noted that acting as if you’re confident can increase your actual level of confidence, and the principle here is the same: we act as if we’re having a good time, and eventually we start to believe that we really are. None of this is to say that you should be ecstatic about social distancing, working from home or running out of toilet paper - or, we suppose, for some, wondering what you’ll do with all your newly acquired toilet paper. It’s just to say that having a good laugh can be a powerful tonic during tough times. 

In that spirit, sit back and enjoy some of social media’s best takes on the coronavirus pandemic. 



Some of the first advice we heard in the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic was simple: wash your hands. It was and is important, of course, but it’s still a bit odd to hear - especially when so many people suddenly seemed to have forgotten how to do it. 

This raised some questions - what were these people doing before? - as well as answering some others - so that’s what they needed all that toilet paper for! This image from @getbentsaggy plays perfectly into the absurdity of it all.


By now, we all know that you should be washing your hands for at least 20 seconds - and the NHS suggested we sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice to make sure we were scrubbing up for long enough. Unsurprisingly, different, far less serious songs to wash your hands to started popping up. The complete and cheery lack of any lyrics in this one makes it especially stand out.


This one is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s part of a flourishing genre of jokes playing on the idea that, for many of us, this level of isolation and social distancing is, perhaps sadly, completely normal. Anyone who’s ever spent the whole weekend watching Netflix in bed is familiar with this, and this tweet perfectly sums up the sense of finally feeling seen.

Now that official government advice actually recommends staying home, it’s possible we really did develop a special set of skills from all those hours watching and rewatching Taken (2008).


One of the most absurd things about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been seeing so many people selfishly strip shop shelves of their essentials. On the upside, it’s led to some great comedy. This one is especially good, acting as an example of social media’s brilliance in putting a unique spin on forgotten and bizarre art from centuries past.

It also tells its own fun little story, conjuring an intriguing image of some medieval sword collector’s shift from the thrill of the pickup to the dismay of the hangover. We feel you, buddy.


For many decades, video calls were portrayed as the peak of futuristic communication. It’s hard to imagine Princess Leia’s message in the original Star Wars (1977) being as iconic as it is if she’d simply left a voicemail. “Hi Obi-Wan Kenobi, ring me back when you get a minute.”

Of course, as so often happens with technological advances, the reality proved to be a little less rosy. While neither Skype nor FaceTime have - yet - led to any sort of robot uprising, they have shown us one sad and unavoidable truth: no one looks good in a video call. With this post, we can at least laugh about that.


A post shared by Ariana Hilario (@ariana.not.the.grande) on


As with all the best ‘so bad they’re good’ dad jokes, this simple one-liner elicits a reaction somewhere between an involuntary chuckle and an eye roll. Which, of course, is exactly what it should do. We see what they did here, and we like it. 


A post shared by Dad Jokes by Pubity (@dadsaysjokes) on



We hope this set of our favourite coronavirus memes has brought a smile to your face. If nothing else, the ongoing nature of the coronavirus pandemic means that the internet’s great sense of humour will continue doing what it does best. And if you want some more content to cheer you up in this tough time, why not browse some of our blogs?

Easy Recipes to Make with Kids During Lockdown



With extra spare time during the coronavirus forced self-isolation, it’s good for parents to teach essential life skills to kids. Cooking and baking are fun activities that also relieve anxiety during stressful times.

Children can be incredibly good in the kitchen. My son, for instance, is extremely precise, therefore he’s an excellent baker. Baking is different from cooking. When you make a cake, you need an exact amount of each ingredient, while cooking allows more creativity and flexibility. During lockdown we have organised our own bake-off sessions and my son has usually been the winner. I am a better cook, though, so together we are a winning team.

Woman cooking with her family

The Recipes

Here are London Mums’ tried and tested easy recipes to make with kids during lockdown.



These Italian cookies are called Amaretti and can typically be found all over Italy, but particularly in Sicily and Sardinia. They are very quick to make and tasty. Amarettis are also a good way to get my kids to eat some almonds. The name Amaretti comes from the Italian word "amaro” which means "bitter," as these little biscuits are made with bitter almonds. “Amaretti” is the literal translation for "the little bitter ones.”

They are also often called "biscotti da credenza," meaning biscuits that can be left out on the kitchen sideboard for a long time, always ready as a quick snack.

To make them, simply take 200 g of ground almonds and 200 g of sugar. Mix them together. Add some lemon rind or a teaspoon of cinnamon. Fluff up 2 egg whites and add to the almond mix.

Make the mix into small balls, add an almond on the top and bake for 15-20 minutes at 150°C until golden. Watch them closely, though, as they burn easily.

Italian Cookies


Try to make this delicious recipe from Tuscany - tiramisu, which literally means pick me up - with the kids. As farmers used to have it in the morning, the coffee plus the raw eggs and sugar gave them the strength to go out and do a hard day’s work. The Tuscan version of the well-known Italian recipe doesn’t have any alcohol.

Tiramisu - A Tuscan Italian receipe

INGREDIENTS (which make enough for six people) include:

  • 2 tubs mascarpone
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 5 organic eggs
  • Espresso coffee
  • Pavesini or Savoiardi biscuits
  • Grated chocolate.  

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Mix the sugar and egg yolks for about 5 minutes with an electric whisk. Add the mascarpone. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff and add them to the mascarpone mix. Dip the biscuits in the coffee and layer them in a glass dish. Spoon the mascarpone mixture on top. Do another layer of biscuits and mascarpone mixture before grating the chocolate on top. Keep in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

Here’s a how-to video: 


As parents, we always try to squeeze nutrients into yummy meals. This recipe is from Tuscany in Italy where you can find lots of wild asparagus in open fields. It’s really easy to make baked asparagus. The kids will enjoy preparing them and then get some of their five-a-day in the process.

Place the asparagus and some tomatoes, pine nuts and a little garlic in a baking tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper and lots of good-quality Tuscan olive oil. Bake for 29 minutes in the oven at 180°C.

Baked Asparagus


Being in lockdown with great weather is the perfect opportunity to organise picnics either in the back garden or in the park. A quick and easy sandwich to make with the kids is this flatbread with parma ham, mozzarella, and cherry tomatoes.

Parma ham is becoming increasingly popular with British picnickers. It does not contain nitrites thanks to its all-natural production process, and is an excellent option for al fresco dining, as it is perfectly paired with other popular picnic foods like avocados, artichokes, and ricotta. Flatbread can be store-bought or made from scratch for an easily transportable picnic treat. This recipe serves four.


  • 250 g Manitoba flour
  • 250 g type 2 flour (with fibre)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7 g freeze-dried brewer’s yeast
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 300 g warm water
  • 200 g of parma ham
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 hot chilis, chopped
  • 2 pieces of Buffalo mozzarella, sliced and drained.
  • Basil, crumbled
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil 



  1. 1. Mix the two types of flour, salt, yeast and oil in a large bowl and add enough water that the mixture can be formed into a soft ball. Knead for 5 minutes.
  2. 2. Place the ball in a greased bowl, cover it and leave to prove until it’s doubled in volume.
  3. 3. Meanwhile, dress the tomatoes with the chopped chilis, salt, oil, and basil.
  4. 4. Divide the dough into pieces weighing about 60 g each and, with a dusted rolling pin, roll out the dough to thin disks of roughly the same size.
  5. 5. Leave the dough disks to prove for 5-10 minutes.
  6. 6. Heat a large pan over medium heat, place one disk in at a time in it and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  7. 7. Serve the flat bread disks with the dressed cherry tomatoes, parma ham and slices of mozzarella. 

flatbread with parma ham, mozzarella, and cherry tomatoes

Healthy Ways to Eat Pasta

Quality carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced, healthful diet. If pasta is your go-to carb, there are ways to take advantage of this low-cost food to make it even healthier.

Cook pasta only until it is al dente (barely tender). When it is cooked this way, it achieves a lower glycemic index than fully cooked pasta because the pulverized grain comes apart slowly in the stomach. (Low glycemic load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize rapid rises in blood glucose levels.)

Ideally you should skip the creamy sauces – they can provide unhealthy fats and more calories than traditional tomato-based sauces. From time to time you can add cheese instead of cream.

Aim for two to three servings per week (one serving is equal to about a half cup cooked pasta).

Here is London Mums’ top pasta recipe suggestion!


With a name like this - direct from Mount Vesuvius, the famous volcano in Naples - this recipe can only be hot and fiery! This pasta dish is inspired by Catherine Fulvio, author of Eat Like an Italian, and serves four.


  • 400 g rigatoni
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp capers, drained
  • 24 whole small black olives
  • 2 tbsp sliced green olives
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve
  • Cherry tomatoes on the vine, roasted 


Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package, retaining some of the cooking liquid. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, taking care that the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the tomatoes, chillies, capers, olives, salt and sugar and simmer for 3–4 minutes. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Add a little pasta cooking liquid to the sauce, then add the cooked, drained pasta. Toss and add the parsley, then sprinkle over the Parmesan. Place the roasted cherry tomatoes on top before serving.

Rigatoni alla Vesuviana - Italian Pasta

Which recipes have you and your children tried? Which were your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Cocktails from Around the World You Can Make at Home


After so long in quarantine, a lot of us are missing our jobs by now. In fact, leaving the house to go anywhere would be a treat. Perhaps you’re spending afternoons fondly remembering what a joyful feeling it was to finish a day of work and head to the pub with friends for a couple of cold cocktails.

Even though the pubs are closed, you can still enjoy countless cocktails from around the world in your own home! Now is a great time to pick up a new skill, so why not learn the art of mixology and become the bartender you wish you could see? 



Cocktail Recipes from Around the World

There are several drinks that would be great on a sunny summer day, and many that are meant to be sipped as you ponder where you’ll travel to first once the quarantine is lifted. 

With the right ingredients and a dash of creativity, you’ll be in good spirits in no time after trying any of these fun and flavourful cocktails from foreign destinations. From Cuba to Venice, the world is full of delicious drinks for any occasion. 

The 7 Most Popular Cocktails from Foreign Destinations

If you want to get in the holiday mindset or brush up on your bartending skills, then you’ll have to familiarise yourself with seven of the most popular cocktails in the world. These classic cocktails will have you cool as a cucumber after an afternoon of mixing up any one of these delightful drinks.


Let’s start our pub crawl by hopping across the English Channel to France. This country is known for its diverse geography, from the ever-romantic capital of Paris to magnificent mountaintops and brilliant beaches along the sea.

Although it originated in Burgundy, the Kir Royale is enjoyed throughout the country. The signature liqueur that makes this drink special is crème de cassis, a dark and sweet black currant liqueur. Typically, the traditional Kir is made with white wine, but to make it the even more delectable Kir Royale, the white wine is replaced with champagne. 

Splash the bottom of your favourite flute with crème de cassis, then finish the glass with champagne and you’ll be feeling like French royalty in no time.  



If you’re still in the mood for something sweet, let’s head to Spain for some sangria. This drink has historic roots, and can be traced back to the Roman occupation of Spain in 200 BC. During this time, vineyards were planted and absolutely flourished in the rich Mediterranean soil, giving us the world-renowned grapes that stock the Spanish wine industry today. 

Originally, sangria was enjoyed as red wine mixed with sugar and spices. Nowadays, the most popular iteration of this drink is made with red wine, brandy, spices and fruit, like oranges and berries. Just to mix things up, sangria can also be made with white wine or a bubbly beverage like champagne for a fun, effervescent experience. 

Not sure what kind of wine to pick up? We’ve got you covered.  



Who doesn’t love a bubbly cocktail? If you travelled to Venice, Italy for happy hour you'd likely hear someone order an Aperol Spritz. Aperol is a sweet Italian liqueur made with rhubarb and spices. The ‘Spritz’ aspect of this low-calorie cocktail was first introduced in northern Italy by adding a bit of water to one’s wine. 

The Aperol Spritz we know today consists of, of course, Aperol, with club soda and prosecco over ice. Go ahead and make it official by garnishing this lively cocktail with a swirl of orange zest, as a nod to the vibrant color of the Aperol.  



Heading across the pond, we have to make a stop in New York City for a cosmopolitan. If you’re familiar with the American cult classic TV series Sex and the City then you’ve likely heard of the cosmo. This playful variation on a martini landed its spot on cocktail menus in the late 80s and didn’t have to fight to maintain its popularity.

Vodka, triple sec and cranberry juice are shaken with ice and poured into a chilled martini glass, with a twist of citrus peel for a bit of flare. It’s pink, it’s delicious and it’s a dependable go-to whenever happy hour rolls around.  



For something a little more refreshing, we can head to Cuba for a classic mojito in Havana. The mojito has a more utilitarian history than we might have guessed for such an enjoyable drink. 

To dress up cheap rum that could be found throughout this Caribbean island, Cubans added sugarcane, lime juice and mint leaves. These three ingredients transformed a potent drink into a cocktail that takes any thirsty partygoer straight to the beach.  



Another refreshing concoction that’s worth breaking out the blender for is the well-known and beloved margarita. While there’s not one occasion that points out its origin, its home in Mexico is certain. In fact, on 22 February each year, Mexicans celebrate this tasty and tart drink with its own national holiday. 

This drink is super simple. To make it you’ll need:

  • Tequila
  • Lime juice
  • Orange liqueur/triple sec
  • Simple syrup
  • Salt
  • Ice

What’s great about this drink is that you can customise it to your liking. Simply blend as much (or as little) of the ingredients together as you want and pour your beverage into a glass with a salted rim. A lot of people like to order their margarita ‘on the rocks’ - over ice - rather than blended. And if you’re in the mood for something a little more fruity, get creative and add frozen strawberries or mango. 



The last drink on our roster of incredible international cocktails is the pisco sour from Peru. This drink is shaken and features egg whites, lime, Angostura bitters and pisco - a robust brandy that can be traced back to sixteenth-century Peru. This tangy drink is sour yet creamy, because of the velvety foam layer from the egg white. The pisco sour is so welcomed by Peruvians that it is nationally celebrated on the first Saturday of February each year.  


If you’re looking to add a bit of sparkle to your day, why not try a bubbly cocktail like the Spanish sangria with champagne or the Kir Royale from France? If you’re looking for something a bit more refreshing, then the Cuban mojito or Mexican margarita is the drink for you. But really, these seven cocktails from around the world are so tasty that you can’t go wrong. 

Have you made any of these popular cocktail recipes? We would be thrilled to hear how they turned out! Let us know what you thought of them in the comment section below. And be sure to check out our blog for more entertaining content to keep you sane until the pubs open once again.

Free Key Worker Helper Heroes Paper Dolls



Sometimes as parents, we just need five minutes of peace. Never has this been more the case than currently, while we are all trying to stay as sane as we can do while in lockdown with our delightful, highly energetic, and increasingly demanding small people.

So the nation can all breathe a collective sigh while they have a cup of tea, I have put together a cool sanity saving key worker activity for your kids - one that improves fine motor skills, problem solving abilities, and creativity all at the same time. I have some templates for key worker paper dolls, including a coronavirus superhero cape, which your kids can make and then play with, hopefully keeping them entertained for long enough that you can have a bit of well earned me-time.

Figure 1


I am sharing with you five activity sheets today as part of this activity. There are two plain dolls on one sheet, then two sheets with the scrubs, medical uniforms, masks, and accessories to add to your dolls. In addition, there are two blank sets of scrubs and uniforms so that your children can get creative and make their own designs. Why should scrubs be green or blue? Let’s have rainbows!

Figure 2

To get started on this activity, you don’t need too much equipment at all:

  • Scissors,
  • Glue (optional),
  • Marker pen (optional),
  • Colouring pencils or pens (also optional),
  • The paper doll templates from this blog post, and a little
  • Patience! 

How to Make the Key Worker Paper Dolls

1) Cut out both the paper dolls from their single sheet. If your kids are younger, you might have to do this for them. Do be sure that you are supervising them as they will need to be careful with the scissors.

2) Once you have done this, cut out all of the clothes items so you can then assemble them on your paper dolls. If you are doing the blank ones, it is better to colour in your designs before you cut them out, so that if you go over the lines no one will know.

Figure 3

3) Choose one of the dolls - I went for the man - and pick up a medical uniform top and pop it in line over the top of the paper doll, lining it up with the shoulders.
Figure 4

4) Bend the white tabs over the top of the paper doll’s shoulders to hold the top in place.

Figure 5

5) You now have the top for your helper hero medic on. Now do the same to all the other items of clothes that I have provided for you for each of the paper dolls. Starting with the trousers...

Figure 6

6) ...and carrying on until you have added all the clothes to the doll, except the cape, as well as the hair and the mask. Notice there is no nose to the doll, as the mask goes over it. However, if you would prefer your medic without a mask, just add the mouth and the nose yourself to the paper dolls using a marker pen.

7)  Now for the final touches. Put the scrubs and overshoes over the top of the medics’ clothes - just as it happens in real life. For steps 5, 6, and 7 you might want to use glue to keep the clothes attached, but this is up to you. If your children are younger, they may need a little help assembling the doll or applying the glue. 

Figure 7

8) Last, but not least, put the superhero cape over the top of the scrubs, to show just how you feel about our wonderful medics and carers at the moment. After all, they are keeping us going and keeping us all safe.

Figure 8

9) DONE! You have completed your paper doll and are ready to take on the world - or at least your kids can use them to play with. Why not head on over the KiddyCharts, and make the Nightingale Hospital in your next maths lesson?

Figure 9

We do hope you like this activity, and it does indeed give you a few moments to yourself too. Paper dolls were a regular from my childhood, so why not re-introduce them to your kids now? Sometimes simple activities are the absolute best.

If you like this idea, I do have other key worker related activities featured on the KiddyCharts site, so do pop over and take a look. Activities include a free thank you poster for all our key workers, which was designed by my 14-year-old daughter. 

Figure 10

When Can You Travel To Egypt Again Coronavirus Answers


Update 25th January 2022.

Travel rules are changing (again)!
From 11th February 2022, fully vaccinated travellers returning to England from most countries will not need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling to England or after arrival, and will not need to quarantine. 
If you do not qualify as fully vaccinated for travel to England, you will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 2 days before you travel to England and book and pay for a COVID-19 PCR test – to be taken after you arrive in England. 
You will need to book the PCR test before you travel. You will not need to quarantine, unless the result of the PCR test is positive.

The Latest Egypt News: Is It Safe to Travel to Egypt?

Like the rest of the world, tourism in Egypt is slowly but surely getting back to normal. However there are still strict rules set by the country to ensure that travellers do not unwittingly spread COVID upon their arrival in the country. 
Passengers from all countries upon arrival in Egypt will be required to complete a paper health declaration (issued by your airline or on arrival) with personal details, and will need to provide confirmation of valid health insurance policy to airport authorities. Passengers arriving from countries where variants of concern have been identified may be required to undertake a rapid COVID-19 test on arrival, which if positive will lead to a subsequent PCR test to determine if isolation at a government hospital is necessary.
All persons (including those who hold Egyptian nationality) arriving from overseas must have proof of one of the following:
  • A full course of COVID-19 vaccination (completed at least 14 days prior to arrival in Egypt); or
  • A negative PCR test (taken within 72 hours prior to departure)
  • Children under the age of 6 are exempt. Proof of COVID-19 recovery will not be accepted.
The Egyptian authorities have advised that PCR tests must be conducted no more than 72 hours prior to flight departure. Passengers arriving from London Heathrow only are permitted to have their PCR test conducted no more than 96 hours prior to flight departure. 

So what’s the Forecast?

The short answer: Sunny with a side of savings!
The long answer: Egyptian authorities have been welcoming international guests on holidays to Egypt since 1 July 2021. They were more than eager to open their borders and begin allowing tourists in again. Of course we know that since then there have been numerous waves of COVID-19 so the recovery has slowed, but as we look forward to summer 2022 now is a great time to book an Egypt holiday!  In fact Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism launched an online campaign to promote the country’s top travel destinations for winter 2022 back in December, keen to get tourists back to the country this winter, so if you want a winter sun holiday then Egypt is a great option. 

Strong as the Pyramids, Fluid as the Nile

We love Egypt for its history and for its holidays: beach holidays, romantic holidays, family holidays, exotic holidays, cheap holidays. Even camel-riding holidays, if that’s your thing.
And Egypt loves us, probably just for our loveable selves but definitely for the loveable pounds we spend there.
As one of the world’s oldest civilisations, Egypt has seen a lot. Conquerors come – conquerors go. Bad times come – bad times go. Egypt takes it all in stride. And when you're 5,000 years old, maybe you’ll be that stoic too. Until then, please visit our blog for regular updates of facts and hopes.

5 Video Games Help You Scratch Your Travel Itch


With many of us confined to our homes and instructed to limit trips out, it’s no surprise that already popular video games are becoming more and more prominent. 

While it’s great to use the extra free time you have during social distancing to exercise, redecorate or learn new skills or languages, you also need the space to relax. And what better way to do that than to transport yourself to fantastic and fantastical locations for hours upon hours at a time? 

From first-person shooters to adventure games, x-pensive Xbox 360 titles to bargain hits, and everything in between, this list of video games will inspire you with how to fill your time and find travel inspiration during quarantine. 

Please note: none of the games on this list are suitable for children.  



Video Games: the Best Way to Travel Without Leaving the House 

People around the world have used stories as a way to experience far-off lands for all of human history. Ancient mythology imagined mystical underworlds and exotic islands, while the plays of Shakespeare offered British audiences elaborate visions of life in Italy and across the Mediterranean. 

More recently, films like the James Bond series have made their name on showing beautiful people in even more beautiful settings.

Escapism is as old as storytelling itself. But with the rise of virtual gaming, we’ve been able to take that to a whole new level. Where other forms of media can show you new places, games can let you experience them. No other art form allows you to move through meticulously crafted worlds, rendered in ever more intricate detail. 

With that in mind, check out our list of the best video games to make you feel like you’re somewhere new - and maybe even inspire your next trip abroad once all this is over. 

Teletext Holidays’ List of Video Games: The Best Video Games to Scratch Your Travel Itch 


With its Rotterdam map, Battlefield V captures the charm of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities at one of the darkest moments in the continent’s history. 

It might seem strange to use a World War Two-era first-person shooter for travel inspiration, but the slower pace of the Battlefield franchise compared to something like Call of Duty allows players to appreciate the beauty amidst the chaos. And while the multiplayer takes obvious liberties with the history of the war, its depiction of Rotterdam’s streets and landmarks is spot on. Just try not to get shot by another player while you’re admiring the architecture! 




While PC and Xbox 360 players are sadly unable to enjoy this PlayStation-exclusive series, we couldn’t write a list of the best video game locations without a look at perhaps the greatest action-adventure franchise in gaming history. 

The first game is a little rough around the edges, but its fictional South American and Caribbean island settings beautifully evoke the region’s jungle mysteries, with the adventures of explorer Nathan Drake making the perfect inspiration for a real-life trip to Aztec or Mayan sites across Latin America. 

By the second game, though, the series really started to show what it could do, taking players from a museum heist in Istanbul, Turkey to a hidden city high in the Himalayan mountains. 

Add in trips to the Scottish Highlands and a bustling African town in the fourth game, and aspiring explorers will be ready to book their trips just as soon as they can put the controller down. 




The Grand Theft Auto series is admittedly not for everyone, but it’s hard not to be seduced by its mix of huge, open worlds and brazen, over-the-top satire. Its 2008 predecessor, Grand Theft Auto IV, provides a strong depiction of the game world’s fictionalised New York City, called Liberty City. But 2013’s GTA V builds on that in almost every conceivable way, giving you access to the vast playground of Los Santos - this universe’s answer to Los Angeles. 

Even if you’ve never made it to the City of Angels in real life, you’ll likely experience deja vu driving around the game’s painstaking recreations of famous locations from movies and TV. 

There’s a strong story here for players to enjoy, and the remastered version offers an optional first-person shooter view alongside the series’ traditional third-person perspective. And as if the great single-player content weren’t enough, the online mode still attracts huge numbers of players seven years after release, offering the chance to truly go wild in the enormous sandbox that is Los Santos. 

While it’s probably not a great idea to hijack a helicopter and fly it through the city streets in real life, it’s an absolute blast in-game. 




While GTA V offers a far better looking and bigger world than this 2011 title from developer Obsidian, New Vegas is often considered one of the best games in the role-playing, first-person shooter genre. 

And for good reason. It has an unusually deep faction system, with a staggering number of options when it comes to crafting your character and taking the story in different directions. Whether you want to play as a huge, dimwitted brute or a charismatic card shark, you have enormous freedom here to do what you want. 

Even more important for this list, though, is the game’s unique setting, presenting real-world versions of landmarks in and around the Las Vegas area, filtered through the Fallout universe’s deep lore and alternate timeline. 

Downloadable content gives you access to a part of the Grand Canyon, while much of the plot focuses on the machinations of the rebuilt Vegas strip (hence ‘new’ Vegas), pieced back together after the game’s world blew itself to hell with a nuclear war in 2077. The real-life Hoover Dam also plays a crucial role in the narrative, with the game turning these real-world centres of economic and hydroelectric power into hard-fought-over resources in its post-apocalyptic landscape. 

It’s far less brash than GTA, but the Fallout series also brings more than enough humour to proceedings to offset any doom and gloom provided by its setting. In fact, seeing Nevada (and a little of California) struggling to rebuild itself might help you appreciate that the area is thriving in a real-life trip there. 




While the games have varied in quality over the series’ decade-plus history, each Assassin’s Creed title has done excellent work transporting players to beautifully crafted historic locations, from the streets of Renaissance Venice and Rome in the older games to modern titles’ trips to Ancient Egypt and Greece. 

These games are an absolute must for history buffs, as the wild, hairbrained, centuries-spanning conspiracy theory master-plot opens opportunities to travel around places that remain hugely popular destinations today. 

If you’ve never been to Athens, for instance, 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey offers an enticing taste of the city in its ancient prime. Manoeuvring your way through political intrigue while hanging out with historical figures like Socrates will surely whet your appetite for a trip! 



We hope this list of the best video games for travel inspiration has given you some ideas of where you’d like to take your first post-pandemic trip. If so, why not check out our other blog posts

13 Ways to Recreate a Holiday in St Lucia at Home



One of my favourite Caribbean destinations is St Lucia! Lovely St Lucia with her miles of sandy beaches, banana plantations and of course the iconic Pitons. St Lucia is a bit like Hawaii - lush and green - but with a strong Caribbean culture. It’s the only Caribbean island to be named for a woman.

We had a fabulous holiday there a few years ago and my daughters are always asking to go back. With lockdown, that's not possible at the moment - but we can recreate the holiday ourselves, at home, and make new Caribbean memories.

Below are my suggestions for having a St Lucian-themed day at home!

A Woman posing with drinks at garden

1. Start the Day with Yoga and Meditation

Let local yoga expert Monique Devaux guide you through stretching amid breath-taking views of the world-famous Pitons.

Then merge mind and body with a guided meditation with Janelle (@yogawithja on Instagram) on the sandy beaches of St Lucia. Close your eyes and imagine the calm breeze of the Caribbean Sea awakening your senses!

A woman performing yoga at garden

2. Make Your Own St Lucian Cocoa Tea

Though called tea, cocoa tea is actually a spicy hot chocolate made with grated cocoa stick, hot milk and spices. If you have been to St Lucia you have probably visited a chocolate plantation and been tempted to purchase a cocoa stick (the main ingredient for cocoa tea). Watch this tutorial to get you started or check out this recipe.

If you don’t have a cocoa stick, substitute cocoa nibs instead. Or if you want to be really cheeky, add cinnamon and vanilla to hot chocolate for a similar tasting beverage.

3. Indulge in a St Lucian Breakfast

One of my favourite things about a St Lucian holiday is the long leisurely breakfasts. You can recreate that feeling at home with your own buffet. Many of the UK’s mangos and bananas come from St Lucia and are easy to find in grocery stores. You can also make banana bread or banana pancakes. Or both!

St Lucian Breakfast - Banana bread and pancakes

4. Get Fit with Socacize Aerobics

Soca music is a combination of soul and calypso that originated in the Caribbean. The music and dance moves in this video make for a fun aerobic exercise you can do with the whole family!

5. Calm Yourself with Colouring

Download this free Colour Me Calm colouring book. The book features peaceful, Caribbean-inspired views by award-winning illustrator Adam Stower and offers simple mindfulness techniques by psychotherapist Dr Nicole Gehl. 

Colour book and pens

6. Nice Day? Sunbathe!

If it’s a nice day, go outside with your sun hats, colourful beach towels and sun cream (the smell of sun cream has a magical way of transporting you to a beach). Have a spray water spray bottle at the ready - it’s a good alternative to spray from the ocean.

7. Spa Day with Mud Masks

If the weather is not so nice opt to have a spa experience. The next best thing to immersing yourself in the Soufrieres mud baths is to don mud masks! Okay, it’s not quite the same thing, but your skin will feel just as soft.

a woman with a face pack in backyard

8. Plait Your Hair

Many a tourist comes home from St Lucia with the best souvenir of all – cornrow plaits! While a full head can take hours, try three or four tiny rows on one side of your head instead. 

9. Escape to St Lucia Via a Podcast

Close your eyes and listen to a new podcast about St Lucia. 

10. Play Some Beach Volleyball

Get active and play beach volleyball. We improvised with a badminton net and yoga ball. If you are really energetic you can organise a tournament - or just hit some balls around.

Three girls playing at backyard

11. Time for Mocktails!

The girls’ favourite mocktail at St James’s Club in St Lucia was called “Pink Lady” (a combination of ice, coconut crème, milk and grenadine). Here are some other mocktail recipe ideas. 


Adults though can indulge in full-strength cocktails. Nothing makes you feel like you are in St Lucia more than a rum punch. Try this authentic recipe.

A Woman posing with a Mocktail at garden

12. Create Some Friday Night Fish Fry Vibes

Every Friday night in St Lucia is “fish fry” day, where locals and tourists come together for a street party and eat street food. An absolute must is roasted corn on the cob. Serve this with grilled chicken or fish and a roasted red pepper sauce. Get some inspiration from Saint Lucian chef Shorne Benjamin (@chefshorne on Instagram) from this virtual cooking class

You could also try traditional saltfish stew or, if you have a veggie in the house, make red beans and rice. Don’t forget the Baron Hot Sauce!

Fish and other veg cuisines

13. End the Day Dancing

All good things have to come to an end, but a DJ party will keep your holiday at home going into the night. This playlist has lots of local soca music you will enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed my list! We had fun trying it all out and are looking forward to when it is safe to travel again!

10 Best Travel Movies To Enjoy For Pure Escapism



We love the way that films can transport you to another time and place, inspiring you to travel, even if only from the comfort of your own laptop and living room. If you're looking for a bit of escapism right now, Heather Cowper has selected 10 of her favourite travel movies that will inspire you to travel without leaving home. 

A woman bored off while looking at her laptop

1. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - Greece

Wish you were heading for the turquoise skies and sparkling seas of Greece? Then you should watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which must be one of the best travel films and musicals of recent years. Over the last 20 years I've been conducting a love affair with Greece, since my sister lives there with her family and I visit every year to enjoy swimming and long, lazy lunches Mamma Mia-style.

View of beautiful greece beach

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the sequel to Mamma Mia! and takes us back to Donna's student days, telling the story of how she met her three lovers, Harry, Bill and Sam.

We also follow her daughter, Sophie, who has restored Donna's hotel on a Greek island and is holding an opening party that reunites all the characters, although sadly Donna has since died and Meryl Streep appears only as a cameo at the end. During the final party, Donna's mother Ruby, played by Cher, also arrives and steals the film with her rendition of Fernando - she’s truly the epitome of a glamorous grandma.

Still, the plot isn't really the point here, as both Mamma Mia! films centre around the fabulous Abba songs that were adapted to tell the story. It's a testament to the sheer number of hits and prolific songwriting ability from Benny Andersson that they managed to make not just one, but two films out of all the Abba music!

Although much of the filming was actually done in Croatia, this is a film that will make you want to book your Greek island holiday, go sailing in the Aegean or watch the sunset from some impossibly pretty clifftop church.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is available on Amazon Prime

2. Paddington 2 - London

Longing to visit London again? Then I recommend you get your travel fix with the fun and family-friendly movie Paddington 2, sequel to the original Paddington film where the Brown family adopts the marmalade-loving bear from darkest Peru. In this second film we follow Paddington as he tries to buy an antique book from Mr Gruber's antique shop as a gift for his Aunt Lucy. It turns out that the book holds the key to discovering a hoard of hidden treasure and it's stolen by the Browns’ neighbour, an aging thespian played with great comedy by Hugh Grant.

Paddington is thrown into jail for the theft, while the Brown family race around London looking for clues that will clear his name. They eventually recover the book after an exciting chase through London and on the steam train to Bristol with plenty of slapstick comedy. I enjoyed spotting the scenes from Portobello Road where I used to visit the flea market as a teenager, the pretty pastel Georgian terrace of the Browns’ home in Wilson Gardens (actually Primrose Hill) and the chase along Regent's Canal in Little Venice.

People sitting near the pool in the evening

It's all great fun, and the philosophy of good manners and kindness that Paddington learned from his Great Aunt Lucy prevails in the end.

Paddington 2 is available on Amazon Prime

3. Amélie - Paris

So you hoped to visit Paris? Then I’ve got a treat for you.

Amélie Poulain is a waitress at the Café des 2 Moulins in Paris. Brought up as an only child and with few friends, she leads a rich imaginary life. A chance find of a box hidden in her apartment sets her on a path of planning a series of schemes to help neighbours and random strangers that sometimes has comic consequences. From afar she falls in love with Nino, a young man as quirky as she is. Being too shy to make the first move, she sets up a series of clues for him to follow. After a paper chase around Paris they finally meet properly and ride off into the sunset on the back of his moped.

Try this modern-day fairy tale that finds whimsical details in everyday scenes and characters. The bonus is that it's all in French (with subtitles) so you can brush up on your language skills and get ready for your next trip. The comedy in this film is complex and subtle so it's not for everyone, but it brought a smile to my face. It will make you long to explore the quaint streets of Montmartre, skim stones on Canal Saint-Martin and find the photo booths in Gare de l'Est.

Amélie is available on Amazon Prime and Netflix. 

4. PS I Love You - Ireland

Would you love to walk through the ancient landscapes of Ireland?

The film PS I Love You is a bittersweet love story between Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler), a married couple who first met in Ireland when Holly was on holiday. The films begins in New York where they now live. After Gerry dies of a brain tumour, a series of letters mysteriously arrive for Holly, written by Gerry before he died. The letters encourage Holly to look to the future and take her on a holiday with her girlfriends back to Ireland where she and Gerry first met, drinking Guinness, listening to Irish folk music and enjoying the beautiful landscape of lakes and purple heather in the Wicklow Mountains.

Finally, Holly meets another twinkle-eyed Irishman who turns out to be a childhood friend of Gerry’s and she starts to fall in love again. Although I found the plot a bit improbable at times, I couldn't help enjoying the romance, charm and wild landscapes of Ireland, especially as I visited the Wicklow Mountains near Dublin and walked across the bridge where Holly and Gerry fell in love. Perhaps the film will inspire you to visit Ireland and discover the romance for yourself.

Hill top while filming a movie

PS I Love You is available on Amazon Prime and Netflix. 

5. Out of Africa - Kenya

Are you longing to see the wild open spaces and wildlife of Africa? Out of Africa is the true story of Danish writer Karen Blixen's early life in Kenya. Based on the book by the same name, it's a love letter to the country where she arrived as a new bride but had to leave behind when her coffee farm failed. 

Set between 1914 and 1930, Out of Africa stars Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen, with Robert Redford as her lover Denys Finch Hatton. But the real star of the film has to be the stunning landscapes of Kenya from a time when the country was still a British colony and an adventurer's paradise.

After Karen's marriage to her husband Baron Blixen breaks down, she falls in love with Denys Finch Hatton who shares her love of literature and storytelling and provides a distraction from the worries of running her coffee farm. Together they go on safari, seeing the unspoiled African bush at a time when things are starting to change and the wilderness is being fought over by the colonial powers.

Although it's a film that's full of romance and a love affair between Karen and Denys Finch Hatton, there's a poignant ending when Denys is killed in a plane crash and Karen has to sell the farm that she has grown to love and return to Denmark. I loved the spirit of freedom captured in the film, when Karen and Denys fly high over the Great Rift Valley, something I was also able to experience on a trip to Kenya. 

I also felt a connection to Karen Blixen when I visited her home in Denmark, just outside Copenhagen, filled with pictures and souvenirs from her time in Africa. If you do travel to Kenya, you can also visit Karen Blixen's old home there, which is now in the Karen suburb - named after her - which was developed after her coffee farm was sold. 

Out of Africa is available on Amazon Prime and Netflix. 

6. Bride and Prejudice - India

Do you love the vibrant colours and exotic charm of India? Then you can visit with this Bollywood-style version of Pride and Prejudice for some east-meets-west escapism. 

The film loosely follows the plot of Jane Austen's novel; it’s set in modern-day India with Lalita as the character of Elizabeth, one of five daughters in a middle-class Indian family. 

The family lives in Amritsar in Northern India and are introduced to Darcy and Balraj (the Mr Darcy and Mr Bingham characters) at a mutual friend's wedding. The film follows the Pride and Prejudice plot, with dislike and misunderstandings that culminate in both Lalita and her sister finally falling in love and winning the hearts of their future husbands, complete with lots of colourful Bollywood-style songs and dance routines along the way.

I especially loved the delicious comedy of the Mr Collins character Kohli, a cousin from the USA who has come home to find a traditional bride and, encouraged by Lalita's mother, hopes to marry one of the five sisters. The film is mostly set in Northern India and in Goa, with some scenes in California and London when Lalita's sister runs away and is rescued by Darcy. 

This is a film that had me singing along to the Bollywood numbers and attempting some of the dance moves. Try screwing in a light bulb and patting the dog at the same time and you'll get an idea of what it was like!

Bride and Prejudice is available on Amazon Prime

7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Iceland

Longing for the wide-open spaces of the Himalayas and the barren beauty of Iceland? Watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty will transport you everywhere from the urban cityscape of New York to the wild places in the world. 

Our film's hero Walter works for Life Magazine. He's quiet and unassuming, but good at his job of turning the photographic negatives sent to him into stunning magazine covers and features. Behind the meek appearance burns a passionate heart that longs for adventure and an imagination that transforms Walter into the superman figure he longs to be.

While Life Magazine is closing down, he falls in love with his co-worker Cheryl, but doesn't know how to approach her, even though in his daydreams he wins her heart through acts of heroism. Then a leading photographer, Sean O'Connell, sends in a photograph that's destined to be the final magazine cover, but the negative seems to be lost. Walter embarks on an adventure to find the illusive photographer and the missing photo.

His quest takes him to Greenland, Iceland and finally Afghanistan in a series of escapades; he jumps from a helicopter, wrestles with a shark, escapes an erupting volcano, skateboards down a mountain and finally tracks down Sean, who is photographing snow leopards in the Himalayas. 

The missing photo is found and turns out to be an image dedicated to the staff of Life Magazine, with the image of Walter himself on the cover. On his return to New York, Walter finally feels confident enough to approach Cheryl and the film ends as they walk off hand in hand. I enjoyed the film as a reminder that adventure lies within all of us and that the most unassuming people may be unsung heroes. As a bonus you get to enjoy the amazing waterfalls and scenery of Iceland!

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is available on Amazon Prime

8. The Devil Wears Prada - New York City

Fancy the bustle of New York City? The Devil Wears Prada will transport you to the city's glamourous world of fashion but ultimately reassure you that there are more important things in life than a new dress or a workaholic lifestyle. 

The two stars of the film shine. Anne Hathaway plays Andy, the young assistant to Meryl Streep, who plays Miranda Priestly, the editor of Runway Magazine. The film is loosely modelled on Vogue, but there's so much comedy and Meryl Streep especially excels as the icy, demanding, dragon of an editor who is respected and feared - but occasionally reveals her softer side.

As I used to work in the fashion business, I loved all the rails of gorgeous clothes and the general fashion obsession of the film. However, it was also good to see that Andy eventually realises it's a gilded cage, reconciles with her long-suffering boyfriend Nate and is able to apply her journalist talents in a new job at The New Yorker. 

The film locations take you to the vibrant streets and skyline of New York, conveying the energy and work ethic of a city that will make you also want to live, just for a moment, in the glamourous world of Runway Magazine.

The Devil Wears Prada is available on Amazon Prime

9. Memoirs of a Geisha - Japan

Planning a holiday in Japan? Try the romantic and poignant movie, Memoirs of a Geisha, that's set in the traditional Japan of the early twentieth century, covering the period between WWI and WWII. 

Our heroine Chiyo is sold as a child by her impoverished family to become a servant in an okiya, a house that trains geishas in the Gion neighbourhood of Kyoto. As a child she is shown kindness by an older man, the Chairman, and falls in love with him, living for the chance to become a geisha that entertains him and other notable men in his circle.

Although she is just a household servant, Chiyo's character and poise catch the attention of Mameha, an already successful geisha who offers to educate her as a maiko (trainee geisha). The glamourous world of the geishas unfolds, showing these women as living works of art who are accomplished in conversation, music and dance, all to entertain wealthy businessmen.

With her new geisha name of Sayuri, our heroine achieves fame and success as the top geisha of her generation. WWII intervenes and she ends up working in the countryside, but is restored briefly to her former life after the war - and finally her love for the Chairman is returned.

The film will take you back to a romantic and traditional view of Japan. Although many scenes were recreated in a studio, it gives a taste of old Kyoto and a picture of Japan before the skyscrapers, bullet train and neon lights.

Memoirs of a Geisha is available on Amazon Prime

10. The Way - Spain

Do you enjoy the freedom of the open road? The Way follows a group of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (which translates to the Way of St James), a long-distance pilgrimage trail that runs through the French Pyrenees and northern Spain, ending at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. 

Martin Sheen plays Tom, an American who arrives in Spain to recover the body of his son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez), who has tragically died in a storm at the start of his walk along the Camino. Taking his son's ashes, Tom decides to walk the Camino himself and complete the journey that his son was unable to make.

Along the way he joins up with other pilgrims, each with their own personal reasons for walking the Camino, ranging from getting over loss and broken relationships to finding a spiritual recharge. As he walks, Tom catches glimpses of his son and has a chance to reflect on their relationship, realising that Daniel had something to teach him in putting travel and life experiences over settling down with a steady job. 

Although I've not personally walked the Camino, I have tried other long-distance hikes such as the Tour du Mont Blanc. I love the way the film captures the spirit of these trails, teaching you that it's more about the journey than the destination. Buen Camino!

The Way is available on Amazon Prime



Though the current coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on those with a passion for travel and many of us have had to abandon our holiday plans, there’s still heaps you can do to indulge your wanderlust and fuel your zeal for the exotic from home.

We recommend the following five top travel documentaries to inspire your next big trip for when things are back to normal. 



Around the World in 80 Days is generally considered to be one of the best travel documentaries ever. This seven-part BBC series cemented Michael Palin’s reputation as Britain’s foremost travel documentarian and began the Monty Python star’s long and celebrated career as a presenter of fascinating and humorous travel docs. 

Based on Jules Verne’s famous adventure novel of the same name, Palin takes on the challenge to circle the globe in 80 days, closely following the road and sea route taken by the book’s main character.  The series takes the loveable Palin through 17 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America using every form of transport imaginable — except for planes!

With so many amazing cultures explored and travelling mishaps and hardships overcome, joining Palin on his impressive journey is the closest you can get to a round-the-world voyage from the comfort of your own home. Watch as he does everything from cross the English Channel and traverse the driest regions of the Middle East to enter Bombay on a dhow boat.

With almost eight hours of travelling content to get stuck into, this is a great choice if you’ve found yourself unexpectedly stuck at home at the moment. 



Following the huge success of Around the World in 80 Days, Palin has gone on to make many critically-acclaimed travel documentary series exploring almost every region of the globe, from Brazil to North Korea. For our money, however, the cream of the crop of these subsequent docs is his amazing four-part Sahara series. 

This series is a vivid and varied account of the enchanting cultures and regions that skirt the awesome vistas of the Sahara Desert. Palin uncovers the spectacular night skies of Nigeria, the heart-wrenching refugee camps of Algeria, the beautiful desert landscapes of Timbuktu and the rich cultural mix that is Morocco.

This series not only offers some beautiful shots of the desert’s vast and mighty landscapes, but also gives a great anthropological sense of the region as Palin meets tribe members, religious leaders and refugees. This highlights the many cultural and religious practices of the people of the desert.

If you’ve been thinking of planning a trip to North Africa when it’s safe to travel again, prepare with this brilliant doc.


3) BARAKA (1992) 

If you’re looking to be inspired by the sheer power, beauty and awesomeness of the earth and life itself during this lockdown, look no further than the stunning, beautifully-shot 1992 documentary Baraka. Though this documentary has no narrative or voice-over, opting instead for an immensely powerful collage of rich imagery from all corners of the globe, it’s difficult not to be blown away by this heart-rending travel masterpiece.

The film consists of a variety of awesome sights: sometimes joyous, sometimes sad, but always incredibly beautiful. It’s jam-packed with cultural and natural gems that are bound to give you the travel bug. From incredible scenes of synchronous singing and dancing and aboriginal ceremonies to the opening of the Beijing Olympics, the film is hugely ambitious. It aims to capture the entirety of the human existence and nature at its most poignant - and it is generally agreed that this exceptional film succeeds in meeting that tall ambition.

Top Tip: For the best viewing experience, be sure to watch the 2008 version. Baraka is the only film ever to have been transformed to 8K resolution from 65mm film, meaning it is possibly the most detailed and rich cinematic viewing experience ever.



If you’re a lover of all things Japanese, we recommend this cute and unique doc about Japanese dedication and food. The film documents the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono who, for 75 uninterrupted years, has spent all of his time doing just one thing: making sushi.

Considered by his contemporaries to be the greatest sushi chef of all time, Jiro runs his tiny, sparsely decorated 10-seater restaurant with military precision. Under his regime, apprentices must spend 10 years learning to use their knives before they are allowed to cook anything, with becoming a shokunin or master craftsman taking more than 50 years. Situated in a shabby Tokyo subway station, the restaurant is the first of its kind to have been awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from across the world book months in advance and pay through the nose just to taste his culinary masterpieces.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a great doc for foodies that might offer some inspiration in the kitchen, as well as a touching portrait of the pursuit of absolute perfection. It truly is a one-of-a-kind documentary that’s as fascinating as it is impressive.



If extreme travel and tests of endurance are more your thing, we recommend The Maiden Trip, which documents the journey of the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world. 

Laura Dekker’s phenomenal year-and-a-half journey completely alone is a gripping watch and takes her through some amazing spots including Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Australia and St Martins. In addition, Dekker is a great companion, capturing shots of some beautiful places, along with a range of challenging experiences that make this an incredibly inspiring film with a personal touch.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this one nudged some would-be endurance explorers into planning their next big travelling feat for when things return to normal. 


Even if the recent pandemic has left many of us keen travel-lovers at home with unusually itchy feet, these five excellent docs are sure to scratch the travelling itch for the moment. Why not take this restful time to use these films as inspiration and take this opportunity to plan every detail of your next big adventure? What’s more, our blog is bursting with ideas for every kind of traveller, from the foodie to the culture vulture. 

Latest Travel News 7th February 2022

It’s Monday, the start of another week and the resurgence of the travel industry continues! Here is the latest news from the travel and holiday industry which should be a must read for anyone who wants to one day return to the beaches and get that well overdue tan. 

Australia announces plans to reopen its border 

The Australian government has announced that its borders will reopen to vaccinated international travellers from February 21st. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back.” However the rules will differ depending on which state you travel to. Vaccinated travellers entering most Australian states will need a negative PCR test three days before their flight – or a supervised rapid test 24 hours before departure – to be exempt from any quarantine. Unvaccinated travellers who have a medical exemption will still need to apply for a travel exemption and will be required to quarantine at a hotel if successful. However Western Australia is expected to keep in place its arrival caps and 14-day quarantine rules. 

Don’t get caught out by Covid travel rules

Travellers need to be aware of Covid vaccination rules ahead of the half term holiday period as countries continue to update their requirements regularly. As reported in The Guardian, France joined Spain and Denmark last week in requiring anyone who had their second dose more than 270 days ago to have a booster to enter the country – or be considered unvaccinated. Likewise, those who had their second dose before May 2021 may find in some other countries that although they should be able to get through border checks, they will face restrictions on entering restaurants and indoor venues. Travellers are urged to check all requirements before they travel to ensure they are not caught out. 

Morocco borders reopen today 

Morocco has reopened to international arrivals from today. Arrivals need to be fully vaccinated including children over the age of 12. It is also required to take a PCR test 48 hours before departure. Children aged six to 11 don’t require proof of vaccination but will need a negative PCR test result. Those under six won’t require either. International arrivals have been banned since November last year so this is welcomed news for both UK travellers and the tourist industry in Morocco, which was the 4th most popular destination for UK travellers in 2019. 
Make sure you check back regularly to stay up to date with the latest holiday news, with updates every week from us here at Teletext Holidays.  You can also bookmark our blog for some great holiday inspiration too. 

Travel-Inspired Board Games to Play at Home


Should you be overseas as we speak, enjoying long, lazy lunches and the burgeoning warmth of spring? Or perhaps you’re meant to be travelling in the coming weeks or months, but your trip has been cancelled due to COVID-19?

Unfortunately, huge numbers of people have been impacted by the travel ban that’s been imposed in the UK and many other countries around the world. Although you can’t physically travel right now, there are no restrictions on your mind. It can still go where it likes, so we have a few travel-inspired board game ideas to help it go far and wide! 

Our Favourite Travel Board Games

You can’t survive lockdown solely on Guess Who? and Trivial Pursuit. Thankfully, we’re in a golden age of travel-inspired board games, so you don’t have to. These are a few of our favourites.


Only a Japanese-themed board game could be as beautiful as this one is. If the coronavirus has you frazzled, this zen-like game, with its stunning watercolour-style artwork, will help you get back on track.  

In Tokaido, you have to travel the Tokaido road, which was a seaside route between Kyoto and Tokyo in Japan’s Edo period. As you make your way from one city to the next, you choose how to make your journey fulfilling. You can hang out with the locals, collect souvenirs, see beautiful landscapes, visit temples and eat delicious food along the way. The winner is the traveller who arrives at their destination fulfilled, having had the most interesting and varied journey. 


If you’re a fan of BBC Two’s Race Across the World, then this is the board game for you. In this game, you have to travel around the world as quickly as you can, answering questions about the countries you travel through as you go. It can be adjusted to suit the ages and abilities of all players, so those with differing levels of knowledge about countries, capital cities, flags, landmarks and other categories can all play together.  

As well as giving you your travel fix, Globe Runner is also a great way to learn more about the world, making it an excellent choice for all the family.


Who doesn’t love a good game of Monopoly? Okay, quite a few of you, but that’s tough luck because there are plenty of people out there who do love it. What better way to spend four hours of your precious time on lockdown than jet-setting around the world, buying and taking over entire cities?

The destinations featured in the game were voted for by Monopoly and travel fans from around the world, and include cities such as Sydney, Athens, New York City and Lima. For those inquisitive minds among you, Lima and Hong Kong are the most expensive cities in the game, while Madrid and Giethoorn in the Netherlands are the least.  

Family Game Night

Now that the kids have absolutely no choice but to hang out with you, what better way to spend the evening than with a family game night? We’ve found a couple of travel board games that are perfect for just such an occasion.  


This fast-paced, fun and colourful card game will be a surefire hit for sushi aficionados, those planning a trip to Japan and anyone who thinks they’re better than their dad! 

Just like your local sushi bar, your goal is to make the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Make the most maki rolls, collect a full set of sashimi and dip your favourite nigiri in wasabi to triple your score. But don’t be too greedy - if you don’t leave room for dessert, it’ll eat into your score.

This rapid-fire game with a playing time of just 15 minutes is easy to learn, quick to play and perfect for those with short attention spans, making it great for all ages.  


This award-winning board game has over 1,000 questions across five categories, including capitals, famous tourist sites, major cities and towns, events and facts. It’s quick and easy to play and is suitable for children aged 12 plus. The rules can be easily adjusted to make it more accessible or to ramp up the skill level when playing with well-travelled teens and adults. 

Everyone plays the 30-minute long game the entire time, so there’s no waiting around or getting bored while dad takes ages over his go. If you don’t know the answer to the question, you can also risk piggybacking on one of your opponent’s guesses, which adds to the jeopardy and inevitably leads to some lively discussions (or should we say arguments). 

What to Do With Friends at Home: Board Game Ideas for Housemates

If you’re on lockdown in a shared home or apartment, a few travel board games - ordered online, of course - can give you something a bit different to do. And the good news is, there are some great options out there that fit this demographic nicely.


Now, we’re not saying that everyone who lives in a shared flat has been backpacking at some point in their lives, but we think there’s a good chance many have. That makes this pocket-sized card game for up to six players all the more fun, as you get to go on a unique backpacking experience in your quest to return home with the most photos. 

You’ll visit different countries, spend time travelling, chill out on beaches, eat dodgy food and try to avoid getting sick and missing your plane. No two games are ever the same and, as it’s so easy to play, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a good cup of tea or even something a bit stronger.  


More than six million people can’t be wrong. Actually, maybe they can, but in this case, the six million people who bought Ticket to Ride were absolutely spot on. 

In this version of the classic game, you build train tracks and stations in and between some of the most illustrious cities in turn-of-the-century Europe, including London, Constantinople, Barcelona and Moscow. You compete to claim the longest and best routes and become Europe’s biggest railway magnate. 

Although it sounds complicated, this superb game is elegantly simple and takes just a few minutes to learn. But be warned - one game is never enough!  

Not Quite as Good as the Real Thing

Admittedly, travel board games are not quite as exciting as the real thing - but while we’re all doing our bit and staying at home, we hope these board game ideas will help you, your family and your housemates to have plenty of fun. And, if you’re looking for more travel-inspired entertainment during the lockdown, just stay tuned to the Teletext Holidays blog!

Holiday Recipes to make at home



While the list of quarantine locations continues to grow and many Greek Islands holidays are now featuring on the FCO list, along with British holiday favourites Spain and France, we thought we would give you a taste of your holiday while you’re waiting for travel to open up once more with some recipes that typify their holiday regions that can be made quickly, simply and cheaply.

This week we’ll be selecting three recipes, one from Corfu, one from the Costa del Sol and one from Nice that will get you in the mood for your next holiday.

Andalucia – Seville’s Huevos a la Flamenca

A truly delicious dish that encompasses southern Spain in a plate from its leading city; Sevilla. Everything that’s special about Spanish food can be found in this recipe: chorizo, serrano ham, beans, pimentón, garlic, tomatoes and onion. A taste of Spain that can be made simply and enjoyed regularly for under £10.


3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 teaspoon of pimentón picante

1 clove of garlic chopped

6 eggs

100g of serrano ham, chopped

2 tins of peeled and chopped tomatoes (800g)

2 teaspoons of tomato paste

15 slices of chorizo sausage

100g of frozen peas

125g fine green beans

1 red capsicum (pepper), roasted and skinned, cut into 8 strips 

salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions: Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and soften the onion and garlic for 5 to 10 minutes. Then chuck in the ham and the pimentón picante, fry this up for 3 minutes, then empty the tins of chopped tomatoes and add the spoons of tomato paste. Cover the saucepan and cook for 15 minutes until the tomato turns into pulp.

In the meantime, heat the oven to 200°c.

Then add grease to an ovenproof dish or casserole dish and pour in the sauce from the frying pan. Then add the green beans and peas. Break the eggs, whole and unscrambled into the sauce. Add the chorizo slices and red pepper strips around the eggs. Add salt and pepper. Now transfer to the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes so that the egg whites are set and the yellow of the eggs are runny. And serve!


Provence – Nice’s Nicoise Salad

We’ve all enjoyed a version of a Nicoise salad from Asda, M&S or even Pret a Manger for our workplace lunch, but these shop bought versions are not a patch on the real, true and original Nicoise salad’s from Nice. Why not recreate a Cote d’Azur lunch with a glass of Picpoul and a Nicoise salad in the comfort of your own home?


4 cans of tuna

10 new potatoes, cooked and quartered 

6 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 red onion, sliced

200g of extra fine French beans, topped, cooked and drained

4 little gem lettuce hearts 

8 anchovy fillets cut into thin strips

20 pitted black olives 

6 eggs, cooked until lightly boiled

10 basil leaves, ripped

For the dressing or marinade

125ml of extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons aged red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 teaspoons of parsley

2 teaspoons of chives

Salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions: To create the salad dressing stir together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, parsley, chives, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and leave to one side.

Open the tune cans and add to the dish and pour over half of the dressing. Allow to chill and marinade for some time.

Put the lettuce leaves onto your large serving plate and add the onion, tomatoes, potatoes, tuna, anchovies and beans. Add the remaining tuna and marinade and add the ripped parsley. Et voila. A quick simple, cheap and delicious nicoise salad.


Corfu – Venetian Inspired - Pastitsada

With four centuries of Venetian occupation, the dishes of Corfu are very Italian inspired with rice and pasta featuring heavily. The Pastitsada is a dish you can find in every tavern in Corfu and will make you long to return to beautiful Corfu.


4 onions

1kg of rooster

250g of thick tomato paste

100g of red vinegar

250g of Italian red wine (we recommend a Valpolicella)

1 tablespoon of sugar

400g of virgin olive oil

1kg of your favourite pasta

A knob of butter 

Grated cheese (esp kefalotyri)

Spetseriko, a mix of spices

Salt and pepper

Cooking instructions: Cut the rooster into 5 or 6 large pieces then chop the onions very finely so that they blend into the sauce.

Then put the olive oil in a large saucepan and let it burn very hot, immediately put in the pieces of the rooster and stir until it gets some colour. Pour the chopped onions into the saucepan and sauté, with the rooster and onions cooking together. When the onions are braised, add the red vinegar and cook until it has evaporated. Add 250 grams of that special Italian wine.

Once the pan is becoming tacky and the ingredients are less runny add the 300 grams of tomato paste and then add wine or water and continue to reduce. Once the mixture begins to boil, add one teaspoon or a little more of the Spetseriko mix along with the salt and a soup spoon of sugar and stir. Allow mixture to boil on low heat for two hours, stirring every ten minutes.

Make your spaghetti in the traditional way, add a knob of butter and serve the meat and sauce on top, add your grated cheese, parmesan if you cannot find kefalotyri and enjoy.


Have these delicious dishes inspired your next holiday?



Now that the government has taken stricter measures to enforce social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus, we’re all going to have to get used to spending a lot more time at home. 

Luckily, that doesn’t mean we have to be bored. There are still loads of ways to keep in touch with friends or family you don’t live with, and there are a lot of options for things to do on your own, too. If you’re wondering how to entertain yourself, have no fear. Instead, check out this list of fun things to do when you’re stuck at home! 



Stay Home: How to Entertain Yourself When You’re Self-Isolating

Before we get into specifics, it’s important to feel good inside you house. Even for those of us who can work from home, there’s a danger of feeling bored when you can’t go out for long periods. To avoid that, we’ve come up with some general tips to help your self-isolation feel a little less isolating. 


Although the government has generously allowed us to leave the house once a day for exercise, it’s still worth coming up with some ways to stay active from the comfort of your own home. 

As anyone who’s shifted from a more active lifestyle to office work knows, it’s all too easy to fall into unhealthy routines. To avoid that, schedule in exercise. Whether it’s following workout videos online or video calling into yoga sessions, there’s a lot you can do to stay moving. Doing so will help you stay healthy and keep your immune system active - which, it goes without saying, is pretty important right now. 


Even if you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home without much of a dip in your workload, you’ll still likely find yourself with less to occupy your brain. While it’s good to build in some free, unstructured downtime, too much will leave you feeling bored. 

To avoid this, spend your leisure time on rewarding activities. We’re lucky enough to live in a time of almost unlimited content. Streaming services, audiobooks, virtual libraries and more ensure that you can feed your brain without ever needing to leave the house. If there are books you’ve been wanting to read for ages, now is the time to dust them off and get into them. 

Similarly, self-isolation can provide a great opportunity to finally work through all those Oscar-winning movies you’ve seen pop up in your Netflix queue and have somehow never quite managed to watch. 


When you’ve got long stretches of time without much to do but stay home, it can be all too easy to let the little things fall by the wayside. As time goes on, you might find that you go a while without washing your sheets or cleaning your room. 

The last thing you want is to let the housework pile up until it feels like an overwhelming chore. Instead, get out ahead of it. An uncluttered, clean space helps with mental health, and it’s hard to overstate how satisfying it feels to step into a freshly cleaned kitchen or bathroom. 



Things to Do When You’re Bored At Home 

With this in mind, we can turn to the little things that make time at home special, and can maybe even make social distancing into something fun. While we’re not promising you’ll get so much out of these activities you’ll want to stay in even after the panic is over, they should at least be enough to keep you busy. 


Even if you’ve never considered it before, learning a new language can be a great way to spend time productively - and prepare you for your next holiday after the travel ban is lifted. It’s exciting and fun to be able to communicate with people from around the world, and even though you most likely won’t be travelling for a little while, the internet offers a variety of opportunities to test your newfound skills on strangers. 

Apps like Duolingo are great for getting to grips with basic vocab and grammar - and they’re completely free, too.


From mending clothes and building furniture to knitting scarves and jumpers, putting your hands to work is a fun and rewarding way to feel good while you stay at home. You should avoid big shopping trips, but you can get a lot delivered - and you’ll probably be surprised how much you’ve got hanging around in that old sewing box you never touch. 

And, as with learning a language, you might even come out of this with some new skills you can continue developing when this is all over. 




Artists have been hit hard by the coronavirus. From musicians to painters and actors, many rely on public gigs or exhibitions to make money. Add in the fact that many are self-employed without regular salaries and it’s easy to see how this could really hurt the arts community.

Luckily, technology and ingenuity mean that artists haven’t stopped producing work and sharing it with people. From local creators to famous international stars, many are live streaming events on social media and offering discounted or free downloads of their work. 

Getting involved supports the arts, helping to ensure we’ll have things to enjoy when we can finally leave our houses - and it also gives us all the joy of culture in a time when it’s more important than ever. 


Of course, there’s another side to this coin. You don’t need to be an artist to share something useful with the world in a time of social distancing. If you copywrite or manage accounts for a living, for instance, you can help struggling small businesses and the self-employed out. This could be a great time to share what you do with others. 


Finally, it’s crucial that you don’t let social distancing stop you from having a good time. It’s nice to do something special, and you’ll feel good for allowing yourself to feel - well - good. Baking is great for getting cafe-quality treats without breaking social distancing rules, and learning to mix cocktails is a fun means of expanding your drinks repertoire. 

If you want to really treat yourself, put together a restaurant experience for family members, partner or anyone else you live with. Look up some recipes of your favourite cuisine, make a menu and order in all the supplies you’ll need. Get some candles and a bottle of wine, turn the lights down low and eat, drink and be merry. After all, nowhere in the social distancing guidelines does it say we have to just survive - there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to the finer things in life. 



We hope this list of things to do when you’re bored at home has helped. If you need even more ideas to break the boredom while you’re self-isolating, why not check out some of our other blogs?

Top 13 Things To Do When Travelling With Autism Kids


Autism-friendly holidays are more common than you think! For us, almost every holiday we’ve ever been on has been good for our autistic kid. Travelling with an austistic kid may sound like a hard job. However, to our family of three, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences we’ve ever had. 

To start, here’s a little background about us. We are a multicultural travel couple and bloggers, and we travel 70% of the year. If we are in our home country (which is the Philippines for now), we take our child Han on three-week trips. We travel long and slow, and yes, our little one is a seven-year-old boy with autism.  

Now there are different levels of autism; our little one is a high func. We’ve travelled with him since he was two years old, and we've experienced a lot of things when travelling with him.

Blogger with her husband and son having coffee

Today we’re sharing some of the best tips to make sure travelling with an autistic kid goes as smoothly as possible so that the whole family can have a fun holiday!

Here are different ways you can manage travel with a kid with autism:

1. Routines Create Autism-Friendly Holidays

Routines are one of the most important things to keep when travelling with autistic children. They are not the best with surprises or handling emotions when things are too unfamiliar and out of the ordinary. Since travel is all about new things and adventure, your little one will appreciate that some routines are kept the same.

Kid showing tongue at a restaurant

2. Brief Before the Trip to Set Expectations

Setting the expectations can actually be very fun, and with the correct ones in place, your kid can have a picture of what is about to happen and ease up any of his worries. Also, you’ll be able to answer his questions and see his reactions in advance.

3. Have Soothing Toys, Headphones and Earplugs

Travel includes moving from different places, riding transportation, hotels and meeting new people all the time. When your little one feels overstimulated - by lights, sounds or touch - it’s always better to have the toys to soothe him, whether that’s a movie on an iPad, with his favourite toys, music or games or with noise-cancelling headphones. These are some of the easiest ways you can calm him down in situations when the new environment becomes too tough for him.

Kid with his father on a horse

4. Plan Activities with Your Kid 

We always print out worksheets for Han during our autism-friendly holidays. Fun worksheets can include trace writing, colouring and maths, English and writing activities. We also bring along at least one book he loves. Travel and education can’t usually be balanced at the same time, but it’s good to show him (especially on very long trips that are several weeks long) that we are not forgetting his study routines and that we can have time for him.

5. Bring Snacks or a Familiar Favourite Food if Your Child is Fussy with Eating

A lot of autistic kids can be picky with food. Travel is a chance for adults to get to new places and, of course, eat new food. However, this might not be a favourite activity for your autistic kid. Bringing some snacks that he loves can take the stress off of him - or off you at certain times - so always keep some of his favourites handy. Also, eating times can sometimes be unpredictable so we make sure we have small snacks for him to eat when a meal goes out of schedule any day. 

Kid with two oldage women

6. Brief Safety Precautions

If your little one is already doing activities on his own, it’s important that he gets briefed on important places to go to in an emergency or where to go to the bathroom or get water.

For us, we swim a lot, so we make sure we always know where he is and we never leave him alone. One good thing about travelling with kids is that the staff and adults around you are always helpful and they prioritise kids when it comes to transportation, comfort and safety - so always be open to asking for help if you need anything. 

Also make sure to check with staff to ensure all trips are appropriate for your kids. We do cliff jumpings and we visit caves and islands, but some are not appropriate for very young children. Those are things we always check before doing any tour. 

7. Trips Should Be Appealing and Appropriate

One thing we make sure of is we travel with him and take him on trips that he prefers and actually enjoys. He loves the beach and islands, which matches our ideal itinerary and usual plans. We make sure that if we have a lot of work to bring with us (we work on our laptops and we take photos and videos during our trips) that we always incorporate an outdoor activity with him to ensure he gets his energy used on busy work days.

A Kid running in a beach

8. Arrange Things in Advance 

It’s very important to have solid plans when travelling with an autistic child. Make sure that your transportation and accommodation are prepared and you’re familiar with where all things will be during travels. We always make sure we know beforehand what time buses will leave and how long transport will usually take so we can account for food and sleep. We always bring blankets and jackets with us when we know transportation can get cold, like on planes and buses. 

9. Be Ready for Anything

Surprises can happen anytime. Make sure to bring necessary medications, even the ones for common ailments like fever and cough and colds. We also bring a thermometer with us to make sure we can check Han’s temperature any time. When travelling in places with different temperatures or if we’re travelling longer than three weeks, we bring paracetamol, asthma and allergy medications, mosquito repellents and lotions. 

Depending on where you’re travelling, make sure to bring the best gear and clothing. When he was younger, we always brought floaties since we swam a lot. Now that he’s older, island tours always provide life jackets. Since he started snorkelling, we also bring his own snorkelling gear.

A little boy scuba diving

10. Include the Little One When Preparing Things 

A must do when preparing for a holiday with an autistic child! Since we always pack a few backpacks during our travels, we taught him a routine that keeps him excited and also keeps him at ease. He knows where his floaties and his swimming shirts and shorts are, so he’ll know to find them when travelling. This is one of the things he actually looks forward to doing, and we always make sure we compliment him for being ready and for being excited to go on a trip. 

11. Review the Day Before the Night Ends to See What He Thinks 

Something we love doing during holidays with our autistic child, and even on regular days at home, is having a small talk before sleeping. This can easily replace storytime in case your little one still wants to listen to stories at night. We try to review what happened during the day, things that we learned, things he did well and what he can improve on. During travels, we talk about all the fun things he did and what to expect the next day to encourage him to sleep soon and get a good rest before the next day. We also tell him if we’re expecting to wake up extra earlier the next day because of long travel or early island trips.

Blogger with her son

12. Document, Take Notes and Be Observant 

Always be observant. This is a must do for us when travelling with an autistic child like Han. We always take mental notes of what makes him happy, and what he doesn't like doing on trips. We learned he relates easily to strangers, especially adults, so he happily spends time with boat staff during island hopping trips or even while camping. He can easily bond with foreign tourists too. On joint tours, we are often joined by adults coming from different places so he usually makes relationships with them, and we eventually keep up those relationships online. We know that he needs extra help relating with young kids, so that's when we give him extra encouragement. 

13. Have a Genuinely Fun Experience.

And lastly, it’s very important to know that despite all the responsibilities of travelling with an autistic child, that your life is good and that you are on holiday to have a really good time. So make sure you really have a good time - you and your whole family. Our family trips are some of our best times of our lives and we wouldn’t change them for anything, however hard it can be. We miss our little one too much when we travel without him and we’re looking forward to taking him on trips outside the country as soon as we can!

A little boy on a beach

Have fun on your next holiday with your kid! We are sure that travelling with an autisic child will be an amazing experience. 

10 Fun Travel Photos to Brighten Your Day



This pandemic has taken everyone by surprise - unexpected lockdowns across the world, flight cancellations and travelers getting stuck outside their home countries. Overall, it has been really tough for most, especially globetrotters like us.

To bring a smile to your face and brighten your day, I have collated some fun travel photos from my collection of traveling the world for around a decade. I have so many fond memories and it was near impossible to select just a few snapshots. I picked these 10 happy photos taken in exotic destinations to make you dream of a new COVID-19-free world.

10 Amazing Travel Photos to Brighten Your Day

Today I am rummaging through my years of travel memories - exploring wildlife parks, pristine beaches, hill towns and modern cities from around the globe - to help make YOU smile. Here are just a few of my fondest memories to fuel your wanderlust.


Spending over 11 months in the lovely mountain town of Bandung, in West Java, Indonesia was an experience in itself. From learning the local language and understanding the culture to making new friends and exploring offbeat places, it was an unforgettable experience for me.

Once I was done exploring Bandung, I started taking day and weekend trips to adjoining towns - Ciwidey is one such amazing weekend getaway from Bandung. Known for this stunning sulphur lake and its glowing white crater (aka Kawah Putih), this quaint little town draws tourists in hoards.

Blogger at Kawah Putih in Ciwidey, Indonesia


Another unforgettable memory and a travel photo that can instantly make anyone smile is this shot from World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary in Cape Town. In the monkey enclosure (no, it's not a zoo), you can go and sit amidst the cutest, tiniest squirrel monkeys. They are simply adorable and will check your pockets for food (you are not allowed to carry any), play with your hair and just jump all around you - this was an amazing experience.

Girl playing with Squirrel Monkeys in Capetown, South Africa


As an Indian, Goan beaches have been an annual escape for me (especially when my hometown of Delhi gets too cold). North Goa has always been my first choice, and if you drive further up the coast, you can find untouched coastlines like Keri Beach in this picture. It can be an absolute delight to find such gems in otherwise busy Goa.

A girl enjoying at Goa beach


Don’t forget to try a fire massage (aka Yam Khang) by one of the trusted masters in this age old art while in Chiang Mai. They will dip their feet in sesame oil and glaze them over a big charcoal flame, which makes an intimidating crackling sound. Then they use their hot oiled feet to give you one of the most soothing back/leg rubs you have ever received. It is strangely calming once you get over the fear of getting burnt.

Girl enjoying a Thailand Massage


Getting my photo taken with all the cat statues in the cat city of Kuching in Malaysian Borneo is quite an experience. Since I spent a month volunteering at the Monkee Bar in town, finding these statues was pretty easy. There’s even a cat cafe and cat museum in this quirky town.

Girl with a Cat statue at Kuching, Malaysia


Disneyland is surely my happy place so when I think about some of my happiest moments in pictures, this one surely pops up on the list.

Girls with Timon and Pumba characters at Disneyland, Hong Kong


I happened to chance upon this ultra cool 70’s festival called ‘Schlagermove’ when I was spending a quiet weekend in Hamburg, Germany. Everyone dresses up in funky bold florals with garlands and tiaras. Streets fill out with partygoers and a carnival-like atmosphere takes over the city during this happy festival.

Two Girls at Schlagermove Festival in Hamburg, Germany


Generally speaking, I am not very fond of big cities but, as advertised, Budapest turned out to be a class apart. Extraordinary architecture, soothing thermal spas, grand bridges and a golden city full of partygoers beckons you - what’s not to love about Budapest? I took this shot at the gorgeous Fisherman’s Bastion and, for the first time, was inspired to use a prop for this perfect travel snapshot.

Girl enjoying Tour at Budapest Architecture


Food makes me happy so I had to share this shot of me trying the local delicacy of Inle Lake - stone fish. It brings an instant smile to my face and I hope it does to yours too!

A Girl shows her favourite Myanmar's cuisine


The cute cobbled streets and pastel houses of Signagi make it the fabled city of love in Georgia. I found that the people were extremely friendly and welcoming. Now that makes this a city of love in my books.

Blogger with her favourite memory at Signagi, Georgia

I hope these photos of my travel memories made you smile. Let’s believe better days are coming and start planning our next dream vacations now.

Make The Scratch N Purrch Magic Shroom And Mini Faux Lawn


If you have cats and love to make things, we've got a supurr project for you today. We regularly share crafting posts on our blog, and you don't have to be an expert in anything to make these items. Plus we offer no-sew workarounds for those who aren't keen on sewing.

**Please Note: All Crafting with Cats ideas and creations are Copyright ©BionicBasil® and we share them for purrsonal/home use only**

What You Will Need 

Fur the shroom:  

  • Empty cable reel 
  • Sisal rope - we used 10 metres or 10.94 yards
  • Wadding
  • Faux fur green
  • White felt square
  • Fabric of your choice - we used a piece of raw silk dupion in candy pink for the top of our shroom 
  • Cotton
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Optional sewing machine
  • Optional staple gun
  • Glue gun

Fur the mini faux lawn mew:

  • Faux fur in green
  • Backing fabric
  • Wadding 

Check out our blog for a tutorial on how to make the mini faux lawn aka snuggle mat

Let's Get Started 

We had an empty data cable reel, so we squirrelled it away in the craft room for future use, and this week an idea finally struck after a dry spell in the creativity department. 

  1. Cut your wadding/padding to size and place atop the soon to-be-shroom.
  2. We used double thickness for extra softness and comfort.
  3. Take the felt and cut as many circles as you want; we made five. Place them on your fabric and pin in place.
  4. Sew either on a machine - we used a simple zig-zag stitch - or sew by hand, or, if you're not into sewing, glue in place.

You should now have something that looks like this. Place atop the wadding and position for best effect.

  1. Flip your shroom and staple the fabric in place, pulling gently to keep it taut. If you're not sure about this step, watch our chair renovation video below - fast forward to the six-minute mark and you'll see exactly how to do it. You can also glue this step if you don't have a staple gun. Cut off any excess fabric near the inner core.

You should now have something that looks like this. It's starting to look shroom'a'licious!

  1. Take your faux fur and mark around the reel cutting your circle about 2" or 5 cm wider.
  2. Measure the width from the inner core to the edge, then cut out the exact size circle so your fabric looks like a doughnut and fits around the core purrfectly. 
  3. Glue the faux fur to the reel, then flip over and glue the remaining overlap to the underneath.
  4. Take your sisal rope and begin gluing so it covers the staples.
  5. Work your way along the full length of the core sticking the sisal rope in place until you reach the faux fur.

And you should now have something that looks like this, and is covered in happy cats!

Pop to our Instagram feed to see the video - scroll through the pics as the video is in the middle.

The B Team love it!

Crafty Cats

The Scratch'n'Purrch Magic Shroom took approximately an hour to make but should take you less time as we didn't have any instructions. And you can make it without using a staple gun or doing any sewing whatsoever - how epic, epically epic! You can also use any colours you like and that goes for the faux lawn too, it's just that we used these colours to match our 

Valentine's Cottage, which we made in a previous post on our blog.

We do hope you enjoyed our tutorial, and do stop by the main blog at as we always have something epically epic happening!

Super crafty purrs, 

Wing Commander Basil & The B Team

Disclaimer: We at BionicBasil HQ are not responsible or liable for any injuries to person/s and/or cat/s, crafting addictions, glue on cats, paper cuts, misplaced pins and needles, cats stealing your supplies, broken scissors, cat fur stuck on your projects, or your project not turning out as planned. By using this information you hereby agree to indemnify and hold harmless BionicBasil and staff from and against any and all claims for personal injuries or damages of any kind arising from use of any Crafting with Cats posts we may share.



It’s tough not being able to go on holiday. We can’t stop daydreaming about all the beautiful beaches, delicious street food and poolside lounging we could be enjoying. But we also have to be honest – there are some things about travel that we definitely don’t miss.

From lost luggage to screaming children on long-haul flights, there are some aspects of going on holiday that really suck. As much as we can’t wait to jump on a plane again, at least we don’t have to deal with these travel nightmares in the meantime. If you’re currently stuck at home and feeling sorry for yourself, this is the list to read. Plus, we’ve been so kind as to include solutions to these unfavourable situations for when you can safely travel again.

Travel Nightmares We Definitely Don’t Miss


Now, we don’t want to scare you, but millions of bags are lost or damaged every year. Whether your luggage was incorrectly tagged, left in a corner or loaded onto the wrong plane, getting it back can be a massive pain. If you want to avoid the stress you’ll likely experience when an airline loses your bag, make sure to put your name and address on luggage tags and stick a copy of your itinerary inside your suitcase.


Being trapped for hours in a metal, bird-shaped structure is hardly most people’s idea of a good time - and when the guy sitting next to you is snoring and the woman in front is squishing your knees with her fully reclined seat, it’s difficult to relax. Plus, no matter how much you love kids, it’s hard to listen to them scream when you’re trying to have a quick snooze. To top off the joys of flying, it’s usually either too hot or too cold on board – so you just can’t win. To make the best of things, pack some ear plugs, treat yourself to a good book and just keep telling yourself you’re almost there. 


Trying to cram everything into your carry on bag is a classic travel nightmare. Wardrobe decisions suddenly seem impossible and after an hour of flinging things around your room, you give up. Remember to take a breath and think about whether you really need those six pairs of sandals and two frisbees. The answer is almost always no. Trust us - you’ll thank yourself for leaving them at home when you end up having to run through the airport to make your flight.

Which brings us to...


You’re racing through an airport, suitcase bumping behind you, and arrive at the gate red-faced and sweaty just as your flight takes off – sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone. Missed connections are one of the most frustrating things about international flights and they can really ruin your holiday. And sometimes, thanks to rubbish weather or other issues, it’s totally out of your control. If you don’t have travel insurance, get yourself some before your next trip - and be nice to the gate attendant when they announce the bad news, because shouting at them won’t get you anywhere. 


From chewy cheese sandwiches to questionable chicken curry, plane food doesn’t have the greatest reputation. Pre-made and pre-heated, it’s usually low on flavour and high in salt - but apparently it’s not all the food’s fault. Breathing at high altitude numbs our taste buds, making food taste blander. Plus, the intense air conditioning can make food dry out and cool down much faster than usual. On the bright side, this could be a great time to start your new diet - after all, those snacks you stashed in your handbag probably won’t taste as delicious as usual. 


Oh, security. Long lines, angry staff and confused passengers – it’s not fun for anyone. Trying to stuff all your liquids into a tiny plastic bag just adds to the mayhem. Be a hero and make things easier for yourself and everyone else by taking your laptop out early and leaving your belt at home.


You arrive at your destination, leave the airport filled with enthusiasm and then fall asleep as soon as soon as you get to your hotel. When it comes to flying across the world, nobody’s safe from jetlag. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it and either keeps you up all night or completely knocks you out. Apparently it takes a full day to recover from each time zone you fly through. Try to include some rest and relaxation time next time you’re planning a holiday - and remember that you might have to deal with it all over again when you get home.


Why is real life always harder to face after a holiday? Going back to work, doing laundry and shopping for groceries all seems extra dull when you’ve just spent two weeks alternating between poolside cocktails and the beach. Unfortunately, that’s one you’ll just have to deal with because holidays don’t last forever. 


We Hate That We Can’t Travel Anymore - Here’s a Consolation Prize

In all seriousness, we really hate that we can’t travel anymore. We miss strolling along beaches, wandering through markets and blissing out in hotel spas. Although travel can be full of stressful moments, the good times always outweigh the bad… and there’s nothing more refreshing than escaping your normal life and taking time to relax. 

It’s worth remembering that these difficult and uncertain times will pass. Before we know it, we’ll be booking flights and planning sun-soaked trips again. In the meantime, check out our blog posts for holiday inspiration and make your own bucket list. We know it’s not quite the same as travelling, but it’s the best consolation prize we could think of. Happy daydreaming!

Learn Another Language While You Wait for Travel Ban to Lift


Don’t worry if you’re finding it a little difficult to adjust to social distancing - you’re not alone. The coronavirus pandemic came out of nowhere, and governments all around the world are taking unprecedented measures to deal with it. 

Luckily, with the wide world of the internet as well as more traditional media like books and TV, there’s enough to do that you don’t need to worry about getting bored. 

In fact, some people are even using the time at home to develop new skills, and one of the most popular is learning a new language. 

In this article, we’ll start with some general tips on how to learn another language from home before recommending some of our favourite language learning apps. Read on to see how you can come out of quarantine with an impressive new skill - one you can use on your first trip abroad once all this is over! 



How to Learn Another Language at Home 

At first it might feel a little weird trying to learn another language at home. On top of getting your brain around something other than your native language, it can also be odd to turn your home into a language school. Don’t worry, though: just follow these tips to get started mastering your new tongue. 


It sounds simple, even self-explanatory, but it’s worth noting that you should start with the basics. While you don’t have to work through the whole curriculum, you should at least learn the sort of things that will always be relevant - introducing yourself, asking some basic questions of others, and so on. 

Even if you don’t see yourself spending too much time explaining where you’re from in a foreign language, starting with common words and phrases also lets you get to grips with the basics of grammar. 

Things like conjugation and adjective agreement can be a nightmare, even in simple European languages like Spanish, French or German, it’s much simpler to learn this ‘on the job’ so that you’re not boring yourself silly with the rules. 




As anyone who’s ever tried to learn a foreign language through a phrasebook knows, there can be a world of difference between what’s on the page and what’s actually spoken.

There are plenty of funny examples of this all over the internet - one of my personal favourites is this tweet

And while context will do a lot to save you from such embarrassing misunderstandings, you still need to ensure that you can understand your target language as it would be spoken by a native speaker. 

The best way to do this is to supplement your ‘lessons’ with things like TV and movies. Podcasts and radio can also be great ways to train your ears while you’re getting on with something else. 


It helps to go in with a plan whenever you’re starting a new project, and learning a new tongue is no different. At the same time, don’t push yourself too hard - the last thing anyone needs right now is to add to their stress. Self-care is more important now than ever, and it’s fine if things slow down a bit while you’re in lockdown. There’s no requirement to come out of this as a superhero! 

With this in mind, then, the first thing you should do is devise a schedule that works for you. Most language learning apps have a reminder feature, and you can choose how often these nudges come - one of the major benefits to home learning is choosing your own schedule. 

You should also make sure you’re not overloading your brain - it’s easy to set big goals, and even to stick to them for a while, but trying to do too much risks burning you out. Luckily, experts are actually on your side on this, recommending around fifteen minutes of practice a day. 

Finally, include time in your schedule to go over what you’ve learnt. Setting a review session for the end of the week can be a great way to consolidate what you’ve done - and it can also feel a little more relaxing than having to fill your head with something new each day. 



Our Favourite Language Learning Apps 

There’s a huge variety of language learning apps on the market, and none truly stands head and shoulders above the others. Each has its strengths and weaknesses - things it specialises in and things it’s weaker at. But each is well worth the time spent using it. If any of these sound even remotely good to you then we fully recommend downloading them and trying them out - worst case scenario, you just delete the app and move on. 


While we said none of these language learning apps can be considered the ‘best’, Duolingo is about as close as it gets. With over 100 million users, it’s definitely the big daddy of the language game, and it has a strong userbase to draw on, ensuring any bugs get identified and patched quickly. All other apps in the game get compared to this one, and its mix of speaking, listening and reading exercises will keep you on your toes. 


Whereas Duolingo is designed for long-term commitment, albeit with small and achievable goals, its similarly named cousin is much more ‘here and now’. If you’ve ever rashly booked a long stay in some remote region of France before remembering that you never took the time to learn French, this is the app for you. 

While few if any of us will have trips booked right now, TripLingo is still a great resource for getting to grips with your target language before you go away. Add in on-the-fly translation and a ‘slang slider’ that lets you see more and less casual versions of a saying, and it’s a real win for those who want to brush up and communicate with native speakers, but aren’t too concerned about fluency. 


It’s common knowledge that immersion is crucial to language learning - your brain will do a much better job picking up common words and phrases the more it hears them, and will likely even come to understand, at least on some level, those finnicky grammatical rules. 

While we’ve already outlined some ways to listen to native speakers from the comfort of your own home, we couldn’t write this piece without mentioning HiNative. 

An excellent complement to any and all of the other apps on this list, HiNative allows you to come together with a native speaker to interact in your language of choice. The users are friendly and helpful, always willing to help each other find the correct answers, and it also enables you to give something back, helping others learn your native tongue. It’s truly win-win, and has the added benefit of letting you expand your online social circle. 



We hope this article gave you some ideas on how to break the boredom of social distancing. If so, why not check out our other blog posts for even more ways to fill your time while you’re stuck at home during the pandemic? If nothing else, it’ll at least give you some travel ideas for when this is all over.

Emerging From Lockdown Feeling Renewed Vs Battered


While our planet is enjoying the pause, humans aren't handling the pandemic-induced lockdown quite as gracefully. Reports show isolation-induced stress and anxiety are on the rise, while physical/mental health and life satisfaction are plummeting.

A study by the University of Sydney suggests adults who have stopped working are at the most risk of depleted mental and physical health. Professor Andreas Rauch said “work can provide people with a sense of purpose and routine, which is particularly important during this global pandemic.”

The struggle is also real for people who are working, many from home, often while simultaneously homeschooling children. Working from home isn't as easy as it seems, and the lockdown exacerbates the challenges. No matter how you slice it - living alone or with people, working or unemployed - lockdown is taking a toll.

But hope is not lost; we have more control over how we survive this pandemic than we credit ourselves for. In addition to advice like “exercise” and “develop a routine” (both sound suggestions), here's how to emerge from lockdown feeling better - rather than worse - for wear.

Have Something to Show for It

This simple idea can be the difference between looking back retrospectively on the pandemic and feeling good vs feeling bad about how you used your time. Having something tangible to show for this ordeal will be a great end result, and the process of creating it will be good for you. It's an audacious goal that will keep you motivated daily to nurture something. Here are some ideas:


A garden is a lovely lockdown pursuit to literally grow something. For those of us without outdoor spaces, a window box herb garden will do. Slowly, you'll see the results as your project quite literally grows.

Or grow your knowledge with an online course. Many universities and online schools are offering free classes. Learn something new!

You could also grow your career. Perhaps you are in a holding pattern or are hanging on to your business/career/industry hoping it will recover. Can you pivot? Is there a new arm to your business you can grow right now?

I started a weekly livestream on my YouTube channel. It helps me explore a new modality of educating and interacting with my online community, while growing my YouTube following. I was inspired to do this after the great success I had hosting a webinar about the Business of Blogging. 


Time for some spring cleaning. Clean out your closets, and reorganize the kitchen cupboards. Slap a new coat of paint on the walls for a fresh new look you can enjoy whenever you walk into the room. Get the family involved in refinishing the kitchen table and painting it with chalk paint and stencils. Do something you can look at later and say “I'm so glad I did that.”

Well Maintained workspace at home with chair and table


The sky is the limit! What would you like to create?

You can take up a new craft or hobby, from crocheting to model building. We may not be able to travel right now, but a collaborative family effort could result in a fun photo collage of all your travels thus far, or a vision board for future trips.

Maybe it's time for a side hustle. Job security has never been more tenuous, and having an additional stream of income from a part-time passion project is a wonderful thing to show for your efforts. Who knows; it could eventually allow you to quit your day job.

I'm writing a book. Authors regularly make great strides to isolate themselves in log cabins in the woods so they can write a book, and while my log cabin is a brick building and my woods are the city streets, I'm making the most of the current isolation. Even if nobody ever reads it, the process of creating it gets me out of bed and energizes me daily, and in the end I can say the lockdown gave me an important gift: the chance to create something new.

Painting on a Wall

What will you have to show for this time?



If you’re feeling a little anxious and unsettled right now in light of the recent coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. Of course, the most important thing to do is to stay calm and avoid putting anyone else at risk - and this means staying in as much as possible. 

If you’re lucky you’ll be able to work from home, but even if you need to leave the house for work you should avoid taking any unnecessary trips into the outside world… but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun.

While it might seem odd during this time of panic and concern, it actually makes a lot of sense to try to relax. Self-care is crucial, after all, and no one should think they don’t deserve to take some time for themselves. With that in mind, read on to learn more about how to chill out in the comfort of your own home - and for some of our very favourite staycation ideas. 

What is a Staycation? 

As you might guess from the name, the word staycation originated in the United States. It’s a pretty simple play on words, adding the word ‘stay’ to the US term for holiday - ‘vacation’. The end result captures pretty much exactly what it is: a stay-at-home holiday. 

The word was first used by those who wanted to have a good time and take a break from work but who didn’t have the money, time or opportunity to physically go away. While they’re still a great way to save money, staycations are also perfect for this time of social distancing, isolation and quarantine. 

If you want to spend time relaxing with those who live with you while following the government’s advice about social distancing, then this list of staycation ideas is for you! 

How to have a great staycation 

As anyone who’s ever tried working from home will likely know, it’s often far easier said than done to snap out of your routines. While home should be a relaxing place anyway, you want your staycation to feel special.

For this reason, it’s crucial you plan carefully and outline a strategy with whoever you’re staying in with. After all, no one wants to get bogged down in the same old dull routine of doing the dishes and washing clothes. No, you want this time to feel more like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. 

To avoid turning your stay-at-home holiday into a boredom-inducing sleepwalk, make sure you plan things out beforehand and follow the tips in our list of staycation ideas to make sure your time in the house doesn’t feel like just another day. 

Staycation Ideas 


It’s always important to plan out what you need to get from the shops, and this is especially true now. You want to have enough that you don’t need to interrupt your stay-at-home holiday by something as mundane as grocery shopping, but you also don’t want to take too much - especially when it comes to those bare necessities that have been flying off the shelves so quickly as of late. 

For the best results, plan out meals for every night of your staycation - and maybe even learn a few interesting cocktail recipes. As well as standard holiday fare like barbecue food and snacks, you’ll want to plan at least a couple of restaurant-quality meals to keep things feeling special. 


One of the best things about going away is getting your best and comfiest outfits ready - and that’s yet another thing you can do from the comfort of your own home! Lay out any fancy or relaxing clothes you’d usually reserve for trips abroad. If the weather’s good, it can be a great time to relax in your back garden, and it’ll feel even better if you’re doing it while donning your favourite holiday gear. 

And there’s no need to stop there. Nice outfits can make your classy meals and cocktail nights feel special, while decorating your bedroom can be a great way to feel like you’re doing something different even if you’re staying at home. 


This tip is all about making you feel like you’re getting some time off. Simple redecorating can help, and if you can order some flowers and scented candles you’ll be well on your way to creating a wonderful relaxing environment to enjoy during your time at home. 

To make things even better, pick some scents you wouldn’t normally have at home - there are more than enough candles and air fresheners that promise to take your mind away to some sun-kissed beach, so why not put them to the test? 

Top Tip: If there are any smells that remind you of past holidays, try to find those scents! For some of our Teletextperts, it’s pine needles, which always conjure up memories of family trips to the south of France and to northern Spain. Scent is the sense most closely linked to memory, after all, so why not make use of that? 


Those without little ones at home can skip this section, but all the parents out there should listen up. So much of what makes a great staycation is in the mind - but adults might find that a lot easier to buy into than children.

Since they don’t have to work, kids will often already associate the home with relaxation, and they might find it hard to remind themselves they’re meant to be on holiday without the air travel and change in scenery. While different decor and meals will help, you should make sure to provide enough activities you wouldn’t usually do. They can range from breaking out the board games to setting up a paddling pool in the garden - anything to help the young ones know this isn’t just another week at home!


Reading a book or staying in for a movie night can be great ways to relax, but on their own they don’t add up to a holiday. Instead, you should treat this like a real trip abroad - and that means not checking your emails every minute to keep up with work! Whether you’re working from home or not, you should book some time off. Set up out of office replies and make it clear, to yourself and those staycationing with you as much as to your boss and your clients, that this is time for YOU.

We hope you’ve found this list of staycation ideas useful - and that you can now safely answer the question ‘what is a staycation?’. If this has helped get you in the holiday mood without stepping foot out your front door, why not check out some of our other blog posts for even more inspiration?

Recreating Our Holiday Photos at Home: Orlando Edition



As a family who loves to travel, being cooped up in our home has been a challenge. Our last trip was to Florida in October, which is one of our favourite destinations.  We especially love Universal Studios because we are all major Harry Potter fans, as well as movie lovers in general. In addition to that, Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park is one of the best water theme parks we have ever visited.

During our trip in October, we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel for easy access to Universal Studios, which is ideal if you want to get there before the park gets crowded. The hotel is located close to Universal so that you can retreat to the pool when the Florida afternoon heat gets to be too much. We would also go back to the park sometimes in the evening when the crowds thinned out.

Looking back through our photos in Florida, we decided to recreate some pictures we took in and around Universal in Orlando in front of a greenscreen as a lark. It’s cold in London right now and no one wanted to get real water splashed onto them! But where do you get a green screen? Zoom, which has been our lifeline while we stay at home, came to the rescue.

From Orlando to Home

We had a fairly simple setup that you can recreate at home. Everyone is on Zoom nowadays as the best way to communicate with a group right now is via video chat. If you click on the settings in Zoom, you can create a virtual background. I use virtual backgrounds a lot because my house is a mess now that all of us are at home all of the time. You can upload your own virtual backgrounds onto Zoom, which is how we recreated the Orlando backdrops we needed, like a pool and a science lab.

Playing in the Pool

Our first photo was the easiest to recreate because it just involved my son and daughter by the hotel pool. It looks like my daughter is asking my son to come back to play! She loves the water and can stay in a pool for hours on end.

Recreating kids pool photo

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

The second photo is near Universal’s San Francisco area, and features the shark from the movie Jaws. Originally my husband and I didn’t want to show our children Jaws because it was so scary for us when we were kids - but our kids laughed through the whole thing! They were super unimpressed with the special effects, which are fairly basic by today’s standards. Jaws still remains one of their favourite comedy movies.

Recreating kids shark photo

The Dog Days Aren’t Over

This third photo is from when we went to one of the shows at Universal Studios that displays all of the tricks the animal actors, which include dogs, cats and birds, can do. They were super well-trained and absolutely adorable.

Suffice to say our dog is NOT an animal actor and really refused to cooperate. Trying to get her to even sit in front of the green screen was a challenge. Although this photo is the worst recreation of the original photo, we had the most fun making it!

Recreating kids photo with dog

The Star of the Show

The fourth photo is something my kids LOVE. We were at one of the other shows at Universal Studios – the special effects show. I got called up to participate in the show even though I made sure we were not sitting at the front. My kids were howling with laughter at my face when they picked me. I really hate being on stage but managed to make it through that show!

We recreated this photo with my kids as the two special effects guys who called me onto the stage. This was probably the hardest photo to emulate because it required the most props. 

That’s my son in his school blazer because that’s the only jacket he has! My daughter just used an oversized white shirt for a lab coat.

Recreating kids photo with a show

Recreating photos at home has helped us make some new memories and reminded us of good times past. The process doesn’t really require much effort and we had fun trying to be creative with the ‘sets’. You will, however, need someone who is not in the photo to help you take the picture. Now we really can’t wait to go back to Universal Studios and Florida once travelling is allowed again! 

Which photo do you think is the best? Which holiday of yours do you think you can recreate at home? Let me know in the comments!

3 Multigenerational Holiday Destinations All Ages Love


3 Multigenerational Holiday Destinations All Ages Will Love


We don’t know when travel restrictions will be lifted, but we do know there’s a world of pleasure out there awaiting us when that day comes. And who better to share it with than family? 



Will Multigenerational Holidays Be on the Rise Once the Travel Ban Lifts?

The coronavirus has seriously displaced our usual family relationships. Some people we love we’ve not been able to see for months because of social distancing. We weren’t prepared for how much we’d miss Dad’s smile, Nana’s homemade biscuits. Even Uncle Nigel’s irritating practical jokes are starting to look amusing in retrospect.

But then other people we love we’ve seen rather too much of. The children for starters. We love them to bits, of course, but let’s face it – when children have no outlets for all that energy, they can become a bit… trying. A few rainy days are fun – bring out the board games, the art supplies, the Disney DVDs! – but now it feels like it’s been pitching it down for months with no end in sight. Sometimes you fear that one more game of Snakes and Ladders will send you quite, quite mad. And don’t get us started on how annoying those adorable dalmatians have become – and there are 101 of them.

Then there’s your significant other, your perfect partner, the love of your life. If he does that thing with his foot one more time…



Hit the reset button

And that’s why when all this is over we’re going to need to press the reset button with both categories of family members. We need to reconnect with loved ones we haven’t seen in a while - and we need to remember how much fun we can have with our fellow prisoners.

So plan to pack up your kids and your parents and maybe Uncle Nigel (if he promises to behave) and head for the sun. Travelling with family is a great way to spend quality time. Together on the beach you’ll find a renewed connection and commitment.

The Best Family Holiday Destinations in the World for All Ages

1) Marmaris

Situated along the Turkish Riviera where the Aegean blends into the Mediterranean you will find Marmaris, one of the stars of Turkish holiday destinations. Here the sun shines 300 days of the year on a leisurely coastline offering beautiful beaches, intriguing bays and inlets, a stunning surrounding landscape of hills and pine trees and sea, sea, sea. They don’t call this the Turquoise Coast for nothing. 

Among the array of child-friendly activities are fishing trips, go karts, quad and buggy safari vehicles, scuba diving, water parks and the Marmaris Dolphin Park.

And what child will not adore the mud baths of Dalyan? Plus the hot springs here are meant to have health benefits, so that can be Grandma and Grandad’s excuse for frolicking in the mud. The whole family can clean off afterwards with a Turkish bath. 

Slip in a little education and culture in Marmaris Old Town, which features narrow cobblestone streets and traditional stone houses. The highlight is Marmaris Castle, whose exotic history will make history lovers’ heads spin: believed to be originally built by the Ionians circa 1044 BCE, the castle was rebuilt and enlarged in 1522 by Suleiman the Magnificent, whose hat is even more magnificent than his name. He was invading Rhodes at the time and the castle made an excellent military base.



2) Benidorm

Located on the eastern coast of Spain, Benidorm offers several beaches suitable for young children and Uncle Nigel, who cherishes the inaccurate notion that he can swim. Equipment for beach volleyball and football is available, as are toboggans, inflatable slides and pedal boats.

Away from the water, you can choose from numerous theme parks, water parks and nature parks. Oh, what the heck – visit them all. You’ve been locked down too long. 

Mundomar has over 80 different kinds of animals in a park of 60,000 square metres. Here you can swim with sea lions and dolphins, have your photo taken with a lemur (it’ll be cuter than your children), hang out with exotic parrots and much, much more.

Terra Natura is a zoo, yes, but it doesn’t stop there. It offers ‘Zooimmersion’ adventures such as ‘elephant discovery’, in which the children can be junior zookeepers for half an hour. Or there’s a longer (four-hour) version that allows the whole family to experience what it’s like to work with and care for the animals. The youngest (or most dramatic) of your family will love ‘fairies and elves school’, in which you get to dress up and perform magical spells to protect wildlife. Plus there’s ‘night safari’, a guided walk giving you the opportunity to see nocturnal beasts when they’re actually awake.

Terra Mítica offers rides under the headings of ‘Exciting’ (perfect for Great Aunt Molly, who was a trapeze artist in her youth), ‘For Family’ and ‘For Children’. The very names of the rides will entice you: the Fury of Triton, the Labyrinth of the Minotaur (unlike the original Greek adventure, this one involves laser guns; why didn’t Theseus think of that?) and the Ride over the Falls of the Nile, which fulfills every child’s dream of piloting a sarcophagus.  

Got a baby with you? You don’t need to lug all your baby paraphernalia overseas because you can hire it all upon arrival from Easy Baby Trip, which operates in Benidorm. They supply everything but the baby.



3) Calas de Mallorca

This modern resort on the east coast of Majorca is your most relaxed and relaxing choice. The nightlife is limited – on purpose, because this is meant to be a quiet, calm holiday destination.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Aside from the three small beaches perfect for families, there is a playground and funfair in the commercial centre. The fun stuff includes go karts, trampolines, climbing frames, crazy golf and bouncy castles. 

Calas de Mallorca has great amenities if your family party includes people with mobility issues, such as toddlers or Grandad after the hip replacement. There’s a little road train for tourists, the Calas Express, which will take you to all the places you want to go. 



Multigenerational Holiday Destinations: Honorary Mentions

On the southern coast of Tenerife you’ll find Costa Adeje, and in finding Costa Adeje, you’ve also located beaches, jet skiing, windsurfing, whale and dolphin watching, golf and water parks.

Hurghada, on the Red Sea coast of Egypt, offers snorkelling (with dolphins, but the dolphins don’t need the equipment), numerous water parks, scuba diving and the Grand Aquarium, which really is grand: you can see some 1,200 species in 24 different galleries. An unusual offering in Hurghada not generally included in seaside holidays is quad biking in the desert!  

Albufeira, on the southern Portugal-Algarve coastline, has great beaches and a charming historic centre. Very sensibly, it separates its family-friendly aspects from its party-hearty ones, so you don’t even have to think about it. (You’re on holiday – thinking is not what you came for, thank you.)

Simple equation: Old Town is for family and The Strip (or New Town) is for partiers. Family-friendly adventures include theme parks, water parks, the ever-popular dolphins (don’t you think dolphins should get paid more?), go karting, horse riding, crazy golf… the list goes on.



Honour Thy Father and Mother... and Thy Kids and Thy Uncle Nigel

When we can finally get out again and head to deliciously fun places, let’s take the whole famn damily. We’ve survived being apart and we’ve survived being together, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that ultimately family matters most of all. And that’s something to celebrate.

Latest Travel News

There’s lots in the news today relating to holidays and travel so take a look at what is making the headlines in the UK on the 31st January 2022. 

EU 261 flight compensation scheme set to be replaced

More passengers will receive compensation for delayed domestic flights under plans announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. The Times and Daily Mirror newspapers are reporting that the government plans to ditch the EU scheme which currently means passengers on flights shorter than 1,500km can claim £220 for delays of more than three hours, but nothing for shorter hold-ups. The new plan passengers would be entitled to:
  • Delays more than one hour but less than two hours - 25% of the ticket price
  • Delays of more than two hours but less than three hours - 50% of the ticket price
  • Delays of more than three hours - 100% of the ticket price
The plan is in the consultation stage so we’ll bring you updates as the plan progresses. 

Free snacks to return to British Airways flights

British Airways is bringing back free snacks to its economy passengers, six years after cutting them in a £400m-a-year cost-cutting decision. Economy passengers on short-haul BA flights will now be entitled to a free snack and bottle of water. CEO Sean Doyle said that the airline received good feedback from customers who were given the snacks during the pandemic as a goodwill gesture. He wrote: "You’ve…told us you appreciate the complimentary water and snacks we’ve been offering on short-haul flights in our Euro Traveller cabin, so we’ll be continuing with these too."

Heathrow staff threaten half-term strike 

Heathrow Airport staff could throw the big February half term getaway into chaos as they threaten to strike over a pay dispute.  Hundreds of refueling staff and baggage handlers are reportedly set to walk out for three days from February 11th which would have dire consequences for travellers and throw the much looked-forward to recovery for the travel industry into doubt once again. The workers are employed by Menzies Aviation which provides services to airlines that include Qantas, American Airlines and Icelandair. Let’s hope this dispute is settled before hand so the great migration to the beaches can go ahead without any more bumps in the road! 

Weekend see bumper bookings 

As expected many holiday firms are reporting a bumper weekend of bookings as people plan for last minute and summer holidays after the removal of testing requirements last week. Both Greece and Turkey have seen bookings surges, but one country lagging behind is Spain. Usually the top pick for summer sun seeking Brits, Spain recently announced that all arrivals aged over 12 need to be fully vaccinated, which is not good news for Brits as the rollout of second jabs for over 12s only got underway at the end of December, meaning many are not able to enter Spain currently. 
Make sure you come back to us the same time next week for the latest travel news so you can stay up to date with the latest changes in rules and other useful information relating to holidays! 

Bringing a Baby Home in a Pandemic


Bringing a baby home is a scary time when everything is normal, but throw in a pandemic and your anxiety can go through the roof! I worked as a Midwife for 13 years and have brought three babies home myself, so I’ve written this guide for you if you’re pregnant and worried about how it’s going to be bringing your new baby home in these strange times.


The Journey Home

Firstly, leaving the hospital can be scary. Seasoned drivers start quaking in their shoes at the thought of driving a newborn home. Make sure you practice getting your car seat in and out so you’re a pro at it before the baby goes in it. Keep 2 metres apart from anyone as you leave the hospital or birth centre. The baby will not need anything to cover them - in fact, that can be dangerous.

Once at Home - The First Few Days

Even during the lockdown, you should still get support from your community Midwife. They will visit or telephone you the day after you get home to go through feeding support, any questions you have and they will go through their health questionnaire. Check with the hospital before you go, as trusts vary on their approach. Some are offering video calls, some phone calls and some appointments. If you have a problem, you will get seen to. Keep an eye on your bleeding, stitches if you have any, and if you had a caesarean your wound. Make sure the baby is feeding regularly and is passing urine and faeces. 

If You Are Breastfeeding

Baby should be feeding at least every four hours, but can be more than that. Some babies are ‘good’ in hospital and then when they get home they seem to ‘wake up’ or appear unsatisfied. This usually coincides with the second or third night and is very common. 

Keep yourself hydrated and well fed, focus on correct positioning and attachment and keep going - it will regulate. If you’re having trouble latching the baby on, or it is too painful, then you need to get support sooner rather than later. 

Breastfeeding support can be given by your Midwife or from local support groups. Whilst you may not be able to physically go to drop in groups, the support is very much still there. Contact your local La Leche League or NHS Breastfeeding support group. 

If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, it is still safe and in fact encouraged to breastfeed even if you have tested positive for Covid-19. If you have confirmed COVID-19 or have symptoms you should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to your baby, including washing your hands before touching your baby, sterilising any breast pump or bottles and washing your hands after changing their nappy.

If available, wear a face mask or covering while feeding your baby at the breast. If you are too unwell to breastfeed you may still be able to express milk for your baby.

If You Are Bottle Feeding

Baby should be feeding at least every four hours, but can be more than that. You do not need to give water, even in hot weather. Make sure you are sterilising the bottles and making up the bottles correctly. If the baby appears hungry and unsettled, don’t rush to change the milk, all the baby needs is a brand of first milk. If the baby is draining the milk bottle, try increasing it by 1oz the next feed. Try feeding the baby slowly, pacing the feed for a more natural experience.


Going Out and About

Going out will understandably be worrying for you with a newborn and Coronavirus. Try not to hide yourself away. Walking is good for you in your recovery and getting out in nature is good for your mental health too. Again, do not cover your baby’s face or the pram, especially in warm weather. A sun parasol or breathable pram shade can be used, but do not drape blankets or muslins over the pram, as it can cause overheating and suffocation. Most of the time the baby can be uncovered. 

Keep your distance from others not in your household as advised by the government. Discourage anyone from stopping to talk, and of course they mustn't peek inside the pram no matter how tempting it is!

Introducing the Baby to Family and Friends

It goes without saying that this should be virtual at the moment. I have seen some videos of lion king style introductions with family at a distance, or seeing the baby through a car window, but I would err on the side of caution. Perhaps family and friends can look through the house window to pay their respects if they wish. 

It’s always a bit overwhelming when you have lots of visitors after giving birth. It’s a fine line, because you want to show the baby off but you also want that ten minutes of sleep without a small person on your boob. Take this opportunity to really rest and bond with your newborn without having to cater for lots of well meaning visitors. If they really want to help, how about ordering your groceries or dropping off treats and meals for you and the family. 

When to Ask for Help

If you’re worried about yourself or the baby, do not hesitate to contact your Midwife, GP, Health Visitor or 999 if you think it is an emergency. Our health service is still running, and you won’t be a bother to anyone, they would rather you got checked out than something went wrong. If your bleeding is heavy, you feel unwell or you suspect the baby is unwell, make the call. 

On the whole, it should be a similar experience to normal, except fewer visitors and fewer trips out. Your baby will still be offered the usual appointments for vaccinations and tests. It is very important to still attend these, following social distancing guidelines. Birth registration may be delayed, contact your local register office for more information. 


I think the key message here is although you might feel more alone, you aren’t. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support - it may look a little different than normal but it is still there. Use this special time to be slow, learn all about this little human you have created and discover your new normal.

To learn more about Jenny, check out her Teletextpert profile.

Our Family Holiday to Morocco



I’ve been spending these last few weeks reminiscing on some of our great family holidays. There are a few that stand out - seeing seals and dolphins in Shetland, sleeping in the desert with Bedouin nomads in Oman, hiding away in a log cabin in the snow-covered hills of Norway and seeing orangutans in the wilds of Borneo. One of our favourite trips was to Morocco, which is just perfect for a family holiday full of warmth, hospitality, good food and colour.

We decided to travel around Morocco by train to cover vast distances and not be cooped up in a car for too long. We love taking the train and go by railway whenever we can; it’s such a lovely way to travel with kids.

A Blogger with her kids in Train, morocco


We started our travels in the capital of Rabat, a beautiful city where palm-fringed streets guided us to the souq. We spent our time browsing stalls laden with baskets and leatherware and picking out baklava from sticky, honey-dripping bowls while watching cats dart between stallholders’ feet. It was a friendly introduction to Morocco and the green-filled squares and wide avenues were made for wandering. We drank freshly squeezed lemonade as we walked and watched the world go by.

Visiting Morocco with Family


From Rabat we travelled across the country to the bustling, hectic Marrakech. It was wonderful to watch the scenery change as the train snaked along beside surfers’ beaches before heading inland through dusty plains and tiny villages with children playing and waving madly as we whizzed by.

Marrakech is a feast for the senses and the children were initially overwhelmed. As we walked through Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square in the centre of the city, restaurant owners stood in front of us, blocking our way and trying to pull us into their outside food stalls. There were snake charmers we weaved to avoid, henna artists, gamblers, orange juice sellers and a cacophony of sound that was deafening.

We retreated quickly to a rooftop cafe and sat with cold drinks, watching from afar, and suddenly the spectacle became less threatening and more art. The children watched with growing fascination as dried fruit sellers plied sold their wares alongside the tagine stallholders and countless small-time hustlers. As dusk turned to darkness, we headed down to walk around the market stalls ourselves, feeling much happier at being part of the action now and confident in our place within it.

Our days in Marrakech were wonderful. We mixed time at a beautiful resort with swimming pools and sunshine where we could really relax with trips out to the centre of the action, where the children bartered for their own straw bags and wooden snakes and we feasted on olives and hummus and Moroccan pancakes.

A kid roaming Morocco city


Our next adventure was epic. We took the night train from Marrakech to Tangier. It felt like a romantic journey of the past as the train rattled out of the station and we settled back in our sleeper carriage, watching deep burnt orange shoot across the sky as sunset enveloped Marrakech, fast disappearing into the distance.

It wasn’t the best night sleep any of us had ever had - in fact there wasn’t a huge amount of sleep to be honest - but it didn’t matter. We were on an adventure and there’s nothing more exciting than travelling by rail, drifting in and out of sleep as the train’s horn moans eerily into the darkness.

Our last stop of Tangier was different yet from the other cities we’d visited. We passed white-washed buildings that were reminiscent of Greece and soaked up the atmosphere here, stopping in cafes frequented by the Beat poets and shopping for trinkets in the alleyways of the old town. Tangier is such a picturesque city, full of character and beauty at every turn.

We took a cookery class here with Blue Door Cuisine, learning how to cook a delicious vegetable tagine with caramelised onions and chickpeas. We visited the local bakery where bread rolls were cooked against the flames by the dozen. It was a fantastic experience and gave us so much insight into Moroccan life.

Kid cooking in Kitchen

We spent time by the pools again here - a chance to relax in the sunshine as the children ate mountains of rose and lemon ice cream, the essential summer holiday treat.

On our final day, as we stood on the beach in Tangier, the sea lapping gently at our feet and the hazy hilltops of Spain glimmering in the distance, and we reflected on what a wonderful trip this had been. With the buzz of the cities, the peace of the beach, the adventure of the train and the warmth of the people, Morocco is the perfect family holiday and we can’t wait to return.

Foreign Food Recipes to Make at Home



Take a culinary journey with these delicious foreign food recipes you can make at home. From French onion soup to Italian pizza and Swiss fondue, there’s something for everyone.

Fans of spicy food will love Mexican fajitas and Jamaican jerk chicken. Those with a sweet tooth are sure to enjoy Austrian apfelstrudel and Black Forest gateau from Germany.



Apple strudel has been popular in Austria since the 1800s. This tasty combination of apple, cinnamon, raisins and filo pastry is best served straight out of the oven. Serve it with ice cream or whipped cream and garnish with cherries or fresh mint.


  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 6 sheets filo pastry
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 50g melted unsalted butter
  • 25g sultanas
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon



  • Heat oven to 190°C, gas mark 5.
  • Peel, core and dice the apples.
  • Cook the apples with the sultanas, cinnamon and 75g of sugar in a frying pan on medium heat until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Line a large baking tray with a baking sheet.
  • Lay 1 filo sheet on the baking tray, brush with melted unsalted butter and sprinkle on 1 tsp of sugar.
  • Add another filo sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle on sugar.
  • Repeat with the remaining filo sheets.
  • Spoon the apple and cinnamon mix onto the filo sheets, leaving a 2.5cm space at the edges.
  • Fold the filo edges over into a neat roll.
  • Brush with the remaining butter, sprinkle on the sugar and transfer to the oven.
  • Bake for around 30 minutes until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool for around 10 minutes before serving.


Black Forest Gateau


This rich chocolate cake is thought to have been invented by pastry chef Josef Keller in 1915. He passed the recipe on to August Schaefer whose son, Claus, is the owner of Café Schaefer in Triberg. You can sample an authentic Black Forest gateau there or try making it yourself with the following recipe.


  • 400g jar of cherries in kirsch
  • Small punnet of fresh cherries to decorate
  • 100g flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 450ml double or whipping cream
  • 150g chocolate
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 150g unsalted melted butter
  • Extra butter for greasing cake tins



  • Preheat oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
  • Grease 3 cake tins and line their bases with baking paper.
  • Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  • Fold in the flour, sugar, melted butter and cocoa powder.
  • Pour the cake mixture into the tins and bake for around 20 minutes. Use a metal skewer to check that they’re cooked through.
  • Allow the cakes to cool on a baking rack.
  • Shave the chocolate using a cheese grater, potato peeler or sharp knife, then chill the shavings in the fridge.
  • Drain the can of cherries, saving the liquid. Chop into quarters.
  • Place cornflour in a small saucepan and add the cherry liquid. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for two minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Whip the cream in a large mixing bowl. Spread over the cakes.
  • Spoon the cherry mixture onto each cake.
  • Stack the cakes together and top with shaved chocolate and fresh cherries.

Black Forest Gateau

Cheese Fondue


A hearty winter dish that will warm you up after a day on the ski slopes! Fondue became popular in the 1930s when the Swiss Cheese Union promoted it as a way to get people to eat more cheese.


  • 500g grated Gruyere
  • 500g grated Emmental
  • 125ml white wine
  • 50ml kirsch
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 baguette



  • Heat the wine in a saucepan, gradually adding the cheese and stirring until completely melted.
  • Add the kirsch.
  • Add the white wine and stir until smooth.
  • Serve with a baguette broken into small pieces.

Cheese Fondue


Mexico and the USA

This tasty Tex-Mex dish originated in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Mexican cowboys were given skirt steak as part of their pay, and ate it wrapped in a warm tortilla. These days, fajitas are often served with chicken as well as beef.


  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts, cut into slices
  • 6 medium tortillas
  • 1 peeled and diced onion
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cumin
  • 5 drops of Tabasco sauce
  • Ready-made tomato salsa to serve



  • Spritz a large frying pan with cooking spray and warm on a medium heat.
  • Combine the coriander, paprika, cumin, lime juice, garlic cloves and Tabasco sauce in a large bowl.
  • Add the chopped onion and peppers and chicken to the bowl and coat thoroughly.
  • Cover the tortillas in foil and warm in the oven at 200°C, gas mark 6.
  • Cook the chicken mixture in a large saucepan until tender and remove from the pan.
  • Divide the mixture between the tortillas.
  • Serve rolled up, with salsa on the side.


French Onion Soup


According to legend, French onion soup was invented when King Louis XV was stranded in a hunting lodge and the only cooking ingredients available were onions, butter and champagne. These days, white wine is used rather than champagne.


  • 750g sliced onions
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 125g grated Gruyere cheese
  • 25g butter
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 beef or vegetable stock cubes
  • 1 baguette
  • Optional sprigs of parsley to decorate



  • Melt the butter and oil in a large pan on medium heat.
  • Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Add the salt and reduce the heat. Stir, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes more.
  • Remove the lid, add the garlic and cook for another 10 minutes until the onions are tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the flour and stir, then increase the heat and add the wine.
  • Dissolve the stock cubes in 1 litre of hot water and add to the pan. Increase the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Lightly toast the sliced baguette in the oven.
  • Remove the onion soup from the pan, ladle into bowls, top with grated cheese. Add a sprig of parsley, if using. Serve with the toasted baguette.

French Onion Soup



Hummus is a quick and easy recipe that’s popular throughout the Middle East and Israel. The word hummus means chickpea, which is the main ingredient of this recipe.


  • 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 1 peeled, crushed garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional sprig of basil to garnish
  • Optional sesame seeds to garnish



  • Drain and pour the chickpeas into a food processor.
  • Add the garlic, tahini, a squeeze of lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil, then process until smooth.
  • Add extra lemon juice or water to thin it down, if needed.
  • Use a spatula to spoon into a serving bowl. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and top with basil and sesame seeds.
  • Serve with crunchy vegetables and warm pita bread.


Jerk Chicken


This dish is known for its spiciness! It is thought to have originated when escaped slaves preserved meat in the wild and cooked it outdoors.


  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 120ml white wine vinegar
  • 120ml dark soy sauce
  • 1½ Scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • Small punnet of cherry tomatoes to garnish
  • Rice
  • Small can of black beans



  • Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, Scotch bonnet chilli and ground allspice together.
  • Place the chicken in a marinade dish and pour over the mixture, setting a little sauce aside for serving. Marinade overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.
  • Fry the chicken for 25-30 minutes in a large saucepan.
  • Serve with rice and beans, garnish with cherry tomatoes and serve with the remaining sauce.

Jerk Chicken

Pad Thai


Created in the 1930s by the then Prime Minister of Thailand, this delicious dish has been popular ever since. With a base of rice noodles, it can involve a variety of ingredients such as shellfish, chicken, beef or tofu.


  • Pack of tiger prawns
  • 250g flat noodles
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 finely chopped red chilli with seeds removed
  • 6 thinly chopped spring onions
  • Handful of roughly chopped salted peanuts
  • 2 limes
  • 2 large beaten eggs
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar



  • Cook the flat noodles as per the packet instructions, then set to one side.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok until smoking. Add the chilli and garlic. Add the tiger prawns, bean sprouts and spring onions and cook for a few minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the noodles, juice of one lime, fish sauce and sugar and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the egg, stir well and cook for a few more minutes.
  • Serve with the remaining lime and peanuts on the side.

Pad Thai



This classic Italian dish evolved from flat breads in the eighteenth century. It originated in Naples and Queen Margherita gave her name to the Margherita pizza. This was inspired by the colours of the Italian flag, with red from tomatoes, white from mozzarella and green from fresh basil.


  • 200g plain flour
  • 7g dried yeast pack
  • 85ml passata
  • Small bunch of chopped basil
  • 100g mozzarella
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Olive oil to grease baking tray
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 125ml warm water
  • Optional toppings: anchovies, chorizo or mushrooms



  • Preheat oven to 240°C, gas mark 9.
  • Grease a baking tray with the oil.
  • Mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl, then add the water. Knead until smooth, flatten with a rolling pin and transfer to the oiled baking tray.
  • Spread the passata over the dough, leaving a border around the edges. Season and sprinkle on the chopped basil, Parmesan and chopped mozzarella cheese. You can also add chopped anchovies, chorizo or mushrooms.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.


Seafood Paella


Paella originally comes from the Valencia region of Spain, although you can find it throughout the country these days. The word paella means frying pan in Valencian.


  • 300g risotto or paella rice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 400g frozen seafood mix
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 900ml chicken stock
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • Juice of ½ lemon



  • Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.
  • Add chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft.
  • Add paprika and thyme, then add the rice and stir well.
  • Dissolve the chicken stock in 1 litre of hot water, then add to the pan.
  • Pour over the chopped tomatoes and add the garlic.
  • Cook for 15 minutes, then add the seafood and cover with a lid.
  • Cook for a further 5 minutes, then squeeze on the lemon juice and serve.

Seafood Paella

Have you made any of these foreign food dishes? Which one would you like to try first? Let us know in the comments, and then check out some more of our foreign food recipe recommendations.

You Can Still Travel with Some Help from Google Maps


These are strange times and with the current travel ban we are all spending considerably more time in our own homes. You might be wondering how to fill the time and you’re probably starting to fantasise about sea breezes, gelato and sunshine.

So grab yourself a piña colada, put on your favourite holiday playlist and go on holiday to a foreign country with some help from Google Maps. 



See the World with the Help of Google Maps

Travel experiences feed the soul. Holidays are the tonic we all crave to escape our daily lives and find relaxation and adventure, and to make new memories. When you can’t have the real deal, virtual travel could be the next best thing. We’ve all used Google Maps during those slow office hours, dreaming of escaping to the whitest sandy beaches, zooming to tropical paradises and using Street View at random to see where you end up. If you haven’t, perhaps now you will! Google Maps is an amazing tool for exploring the globe right from the comfort of your own home. 

The Teletext Google Maps Travel Guide

It’s time to open Google Maps, sit back and let the little yellow Street View man do the walking for you with this virtual world travel guide!


Italy is a treasure trove of history and Rome is its finest gem. The Colosseum, a Roman amphitheatre once used for gladiatorial tournaments, could seat up to 80,000 spectators. It was built nearly 2,000 years ago and stands three storeys high. It has survived earthquakes, World Wars and stone robbers and, though ruined to an extent, still stands proud as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Though far from modern, in 2007 it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Skip the queues and drop straight in


Budapest has a really interesting history and is a popular holiday destination for those seeking unique party bars, street food galore and incredible architectural tours. The central area of Budapest along the Danube River is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and includes the Hungarian Parliament Building - one of the largest parliament buildings in the world. You can marvel at it from Street View or drop straight into the building to enjoy its impressive Gothic revival architecture. Don’t forget to look up at the intricately painted ceilings! 


Harry Potter fans will be excited to know that you can virtually immerse yourself in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida - so dust off your cape and grab your wands! Drop into Street View by the Knight Bus and walk through Leicester Square Station to discover Diagon Alley and visit Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Ollivanders Wand Shop. You can also head over to another part of the park where you’ll find Hogwarts Castle and the village of Hogsmede, host to the infamous Three Broomsticks Pub and Honeydukes Sweetshop! 




Barcelona is one of Europe’s most iconic cities and this monumental Roman Catholic cathedral designed by architect Antoni Gaudí should be on your list of places to visit – virtually or not. Construction on the Basilica began in 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026 – 100 years after Gaudí’s death. Google Maps lets you drop straight into the heart of the Basilica and look up at its impressive stained-glass windows and towering ceilings.


If Mediterranean marinas, waterfront shopping and people-watching are your thing, you’ll love the Valletta Waterfront. Take a virtual trip to the old Baroque warehouses that line the harbour in sunny Malta, now converted into cafes and shops. You can almost feel the heat bouncing off the stone walls and shiny cruise liners from the pictures alone. 


The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the largest mosque in Abu Dhabi and breaks a number of records for its 17,000m2 floral marble mosaic courtyard, its vast woollen handwoven carpet weighing about 35 tonnes and its numerous gold-plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers. With Google Maps you can avoid the soaring temperatures and strict dress code and take in the 82 domes from the courtyard, or drop straight into the mosque and take yourself on a virtual walking tour.  


Central Park is over 800 acres in size and features in hundreds of films and TV series. Most of the footpaths have been captured on Google Maps, so you can move through the park like you’re Blair from Gossip Girl or Ross from Friends without having to take a step. Features worth virtually visiting include the Bethesda Terrace Arcade, the Conservatory Garden and Belvedere Castle.


For something a bit different, you can head to Mexico and go beneath the waves without getting wet! Just off the coast of Punta Sur you can find one of the top dive sites in the world. Swim among striking coral formations, abundant marine life and scuba divers, and discover this underwater world without having to do your PADI scuba diving training. Go diving with the kids and see if you can spot any of the fish from Finding Nemo!



What are You Waiting For?

It’s time to explore! Travel solo or go on a family holiday whilst saving money by doing it all virtually. Why not make things more realistic and delve deeper into your virtual travel by using all your senses? We’ve got the visual covered using Google Maps but to add to the authenticity, you could get your taste buds involved with a scoop of ice cream or a holiday cocktail of your choice. Stick on your holiday playlist or some soothing background seashore sounds and maybe even put some sunscreen on just for the smell of it!

For some more travel inspo and ideas of what to do while we all wait for the travel ban to lift, visit the Teletext Holidays blog

5 Fun and Fabulous Indoor Activities to Do With Your Kids



It’s fair to say that life has looked very different than usual for the vast majority of people lately, with most of us working from home and being unable to see the friends and family we’d usually spend our free time with.

It’s been an unsettling and emotional time, and if you’ve had little ones to keep busy at home during the lockdown period too, then you’ll know that finding activities to keep them occupied every day can be tricky.

We’ve homeschooled by choice for two years now, so we’re used to having to find ways to keep our three children entertained at home on rainy days and I’ve built up a little go-to list of activities that are always sure to keep them interested and out of trouble!

A Mother reads story book with her child

Activities to Keep Kids Entertained Indoors

The activities on this list have proven time and time again to be big hits with my three children, guaranteeing me at least a couple of hours without hearing the dreaded “I’m bored!”

The great thing about these activities is that they can be enjoyed as solo activities for only children, used as a way to keep children busy while you get on with some work or take your Zoom meeting, or enjoyed as a family activity.


Now I admit, the words “Mummy, can we make some slime?!” used to fill me with dread! It took so much time and SO many ingredients to try to get it right, I rarely managed to make perfect slime and I was usually left with a lot of mess to clean up and a disappointed child.

But I’m pleased to say that I’ve now managed to perfect our slime recipe so that it produces PERFECT non-sticky slime every single time, and it takes five minutes to make!

My kids love to get involved in the slime making process, and will spend lots of time playing with their creations afterwards. I love to use this activity on afternoons when tempers have been running high and tantrums are on the horizon - something about the sensory element of the activity seems to really soothe my little ones and calm down a troublesome atmosphere.

A Home made Slime

To make the slime, you will need:

  • 6 oz/177 ml of coloured glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 60ml of cold water
  • Glitter (optional but beautiful!)
  • 1.5 – 2 tablespoons of contact lens solution (must contain boric acid) 

Slime making kit

All you need to do is empty the glitter glue into a mixing bowl, sprinkle in the bicarbonate of soda and mix it into the glue. Add the water and stir well. Pour in the glitter, mix again and add in the contact lens solution. Mix together and keep adding the contact lens solution a little bit at a time while kneading the slime together.

Once the slime starts to become less sticky and more stretchy, it’s ready to play with!

We like to theme it with different colours – this week we made a glittery blue which we called “Frozen Slime” and a glittery gold, which was “Pirate Treasure Slime”!

Golden colour Slime

I’ve put together a little video to show the process below. 


During lockdown, it can feel like one day often blends into the next with no real distinction between weekdays and weekends.

To give us all something to look forward to, we introduced Themed Tea Party Fridays to celebrate the end of another week in lockdown!

Three Kids in a evening tea party

Each week, the children make some bunting and colour in some pictures to fit in with our theme and I put together a little afternoon tea for us to sit and enjoy together.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had an Easter themed tea party, a jungle theme, a Disney theme and this week we’re looking forward to our VE Day themed afternoon tea celebration.

Biscuits and Tea at a party


This is another favourite of the little ones, and it’s something we usually do on a Saturday night as a weekend treat.

The kids get really excited about making movie cinema tickets, someone takes on the role of being “the popcorn server” and then we all sit down together in the living room with lights out to enjoy a movie. It’s so simple but something we all really enjoy doing together.



This was an activity we tried out last week for the first time but it’s fast become a favourite!

My kids have always loved to play hair salons – they like brushing and styling each other's hair – but last week we decided to step it up by introducing some crazy hair colours.

I found a hack online that showed how to use tissue paper to temporarily colour your kids’ hair. It worked perfectly!

Colourful Tissue paper sheets

All you need to do is take some coloured crepe paper and rip it up into small pieces, and place into a bowl. You then pour a little hot water over the paper, just enough to cover it, and leave it for a few minutes.

You then strain the paper, leaving just the coloured water in the bowl.

staining coloured tissue paper into colour

Then you take the hair you want to colour into sections, and place it into the bowl of coloured water for around three minutes.

A girl colouring her hair

Squeeze out the excess water, and dry the hair without rinsing.

And voila! You have coloured hair!

The colour will, of course, be more effective on lighter hair, and it’s always best to do a strand test first to make sure it washes out properly.

We’ve done this twice now and the colour has washed out completely in three washes. If you’re not keen on letting your children colour their own hair, you could always let them colour yours or perhaps a doll’s hair – just as fun!

A girl Showing her coloured hair


My kids love to paint pictures but now that we’re in week six of lockdown, they’re starting to get a little bit bored of just normal painting so we’ve been trying out some different painting techniques – salt painting has been a big hit!

All you do is use PVA glue to “paint” the outline of a picture (it’s best if you can squeeze the glue from a bottle or piping bag so that it forms a raised line), then cover the glue with salt.

Once the salt glue is dry, use food dye or water colour paints and lightly tap your paint brush along the salt outlines - and watch as your painting transforms into a colourful work of art!

The Importance of Taking Time for Yourself

While keeping the children entertained and engaged during lockdown is something on all of our minds, it’s worth mentioning the importance of trying to make sure you’re looking after yourself during these unprecedented times too.

Try to schedule out a little bit of time each day to do something that you enjoy – even if it’s just 15 minutes before bed each evening to read a few pages of a book or do a face mask. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and it’s crucial that you don’t neglect your own needs.

How Cats Support Their Humans During Challenging Times



Cats are good for our health.  A study at the University of Minnesota found that cats may reduce your chances of a heart attack by 40%. A study by Dr. June McNicholas reported that stress symptoms were lowest in cat owners, second lowest in dog owners, and highest in people without pets. The Fauna Communications Research Institute found that a cat’s purr has therapeutic healing qualities for bone growth and healing, pain relief, and many other ailments. Never have these healing qualities of cats been more important than during the current pandemic.

As people around the world in some stage of lockdown are spending most of the time in their homes, feline companionship has become even more important than ever before. As a single woman living alone, I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have Allegra, my 10-year-old tortoiseshell cat. As a writer and blogger, working from home is nothing new to me. As an introvert, I enjoy my time alone, but I also enjoy getting together with friends on a regular basis. For the last few months, for the first time in my life, I’ve dealt with bouts of loneliness. Seeing my friends on video screens helps, but it’s not the same as real life contact. Thankfully, Allegra is doing her best to fill the need for real life contact with another living being.

A Tiny black cat at home

Cats Fill the Emotional Gap Left by Social Distancing

One of the biggest challenges of this pandemic for everyone has been that in order to stay safe, we have to distance ourselves from our fellow humans unless we share a household with them. Cats fill this basic need for contact with living beings. Allegra is not a cuddly cat, but true to her sensitive nature, she intuitively seems to know that I need more physical contact than she might normally be comfortable with. She has been spending more time on my lap and she sleeps close to me on the bed at night.

“Mindfully petting or snuggling with our cats is a way that our cats can help us de-stress and come back to the present moment,” says Sarah Chauncey, author of the upcoming P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna (October 2020), a gift book for adults grieving the loss of a cat. This applies especially to people living alone.

“Cats provide essential companionship and comfort during a time of physical distancing. From the vibrations of their purr to the softness of their coat, they offer us a number of ways to take a break from the world around us.”

A Small cat in her Box

Quaran-team-ing with Cats

Working from home with cats can be both a challenge and a joy, but I suspect most cat parents gladly put up with occasional walks across the keyboard, demands for attention (and food!) and uninvited participation in video conferences.

Music industry executive Lynn L. is riding the pandemic out in her small New York City apartment with her husband and two cats.

“The invasiveness of Zoom during quarantine has blurred lines between personal and professional,” says Lynn. “Suddenly my bosses and coworkers are in my home from morning to night. Every day feels like Monday - even weekends.”

Her two cats as well as her coworkers’ cats often contribute to meetings. “At least once during every Zoom call, a cat walks across a keyboard, dragging a tail  under our noses and bringing more of a personal touch and lightness to the calls. Our uncontrollable cats have taught us all that though we may be working, we're on their time - and we're grateful for the distraction.”

A cat behind the laptop

Laughter and Bright Spots During a Dark Time

Bernadette DeLamar, a market researcher in Daytona, Florida who shares her home with her two cats Bruce and Angelica, echoes what Lynn said about cats adding some lightness to these dark times. Bernadette relies on her two rescue cats for a good laugh, “at least once if not multiple times a day.” Whether it’s 18-pound Bruce squeezing himself into a too tiny Amazon box, or Angelica staring at Bernadette while hanging upside down from her cat tree, or “Angelica getting the zoomies and flying from one chair to another, eventually landing smack on top of Bruce,” the pair bring amusement in the middle of the gloom and doom of the pandemic.

A Cat in a brown box

There is little doubt that cats make lockdown more bearable. In the United States, pet adoptions and fosters have increased tremendously while people are staying home, in some cases even clearing out some shelters.

“Cats largely live in the moment, and we can learn from their zen-like habits,” says Chauncey. “They don’t know there’s a pandemic. They’ve been locked down since adoption! Yet they accept the facts of confinement with much more acceptance than most humans.” 

Do you have pets? How have they helped you through the lockdown? Let me know in the comments.

Tips For Travel Bloggers During Coronavirus Pandemic



It’s a tough time for everyone right now, and us travel bloggers are suffering in ways we could never have predicted before the coronavirus hit. The global pandemic has not only pressed pause on our ability to travel but has also squashed our income streams and halted the growth of the businesses we’ve spent years building.

A Female travel blogger using her laptop

With the whole world on lockdown, nobody is researching or booking travel. Our travel blogs are, to put it bluntly, flopping – but there is a positive way to look at this. 

Between gazing at your Google Analytics dashboard in horror and stuffing your last packet of emergency biscuits into your mouth, try to focus on the things you CAN control.

We can use this period wisely. Personally, I’m trying to view this weird and uncertain time as a gift – albeit an unwanted one. In the absence of brand campaigns and press trips, I have time to work on all of the (admittedly boring) tasks that have needed tackling for a while.

There are things you can do now to help prepare your blog for the surge in travel searches and bookings that are bound to come when the pandemic is beaten,  whenever that may be.

Here are a few things you can do during the lockdown to help your travel blog succeed when this is over.

1) Optimise Old Posts

How long have you been blogging? What have you learned in that time? Every blogger cringes at their early work and wishes they could go back and implement all of the strategies and tactics they’ve honed over the years to their old posts. Now is the perfect time to do that!

Look back at your old blog posts and work some magic on them. Give them an SEO makeover, swap the grainy pictures for prettier ones and update the information about the destination. Add affiliate links to help you monetise your content and sprinkle in some relevant links to other blog posts on your website to help Google understand what you blog about.

When the travel bans lift, your old posts will be ready to start working for you again.

2) Give Your Site a Makeover

Nobody is looking at your website right now, so this is the perfect time to work on that redesign you’ve had in mind for the past year. Experiment with a new layout, a change of colour scheme or even just a new header.

If you’re changing your website branding, remember to also create new cover images and logos for your social media channels.

This is a particularly good time to support other self-employed creatives by hiring an expert to redesign your site, if that’s in your current budget.

A Blogger typing in keyboard

3) Refresh Your About Page

Ah, the About page: probably one of the most neglected pages on your website. Maybe you set it up when you first started your blog and have barely glanced over it since. Or perhaps – shock horror – you don’t even have an About page?

A concise overview of who you are, who reads your blog and what topics you cover helps readers get to know you better. An About page also makes it easier for brands to work with you. Use the lockdown as an opportunity to create an About page that boldly introduces you and your brand or update the one you currently have.

4) Consider a Side Hustle

Since we don’t know how long the pandemic will last or what state the economy will be in when it’s over, it might be time to think about securing other streams of income.

Many bloggers subsidise their travel blogging income with freelance gigs that make use of the skills they’ve gained from running their own website. You could look for writing jobs, try to secure work as a virtual assistant or start social media consulting. Or perhaps you have another skill from a previous career you could use?

It’s time to get resourceful. Trust me, having additional income streams alleviates some of the pressure!

5) Experiment with New Topics

While some of us crave escapism in the form of travel photography and tales, many feel it’s a bit tone-deaf to publish or promote travel content right now. And, of course, it would be irresponsible for any of us to encourage our followers to take a trip any time soon.

As travel bloggers, that leaves us in a bit of a pickle.

This uncertain time is ripe for introducing new topics to your website. Whether it’s food blogging, photography tips, beauty tutorials or a review of your new sewing kit, branch out and try something new! Your audience might just love it.

6) Remember to Breathe

This will pass. When it does, the world and their dog will be ready to plan their trip of a lifetime. Our travel blogs will be waiting.

A Blogger with her pet

We want all our customers to stay safe when abroad. For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office click here. Further advice can be found on the Travel Aware page here. Please note the advice can change so check regularly for updates and before you travel. acts as an agent in respect of all bookings made by telephone. For all bookings, your contract will be with the applicable Service Provider of your chosen Travel Service (who may be the principal or the agent of the principal) and Teletext acts only as an agent on their behalf. Your holiday will be financially protected by the ATOL scheme and you will receive an ATOL certificate once your booking has been confirmed. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go

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