Have armchair, will travel - Women's Health Magazine - April 2021

Updated: Jun 27


Article written by Dilvin Yasa

Published in Women's Health Magazine, April 2021


A round the world trip might not be on the menu right now, but daydreaming can still deliver feelgood benefits. Food for your wanderlusting soul, right this way.

Loving life on your next overseas trip might still be a way off yet, but want the very good news? Research suggests daydreaming about (and planning for) a holiday may actually make you happier than the vacation itself. According to a Dutch study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, holidaymakers experienced a more significant boost in their emotional wellbeing during the planning stages than on the actual trip - a by-product of looking forward to good times ahead. "During a planning session, you could enter an alpha brain wave state where you feel relatively calm and relaxed," says psychologist Dr Amanda Ferguson. "If you look at destinations for 20 minutes or so, you're getting health benefits [similar to] a guided meditation. It might not be the escape you thought you'd be having this year, but visualisation can provide a healthy alternative while we wait [this time] out." Read for a big dose of that? Let's get dreaming...


IF YOU'RE MISSING BRIGHT LIGHTS OF A BIG CITY

Lusting after a crowded metropolis where towers pulsate with neon lights and rowdy people fall out of darkened doorways? Settling in for movies such as Lost in Translation, Crazy Rich Asians and Midnight in Paris (as well as Sexy and the City of course) can give you that 'immersed in a city that doesn't sleep' feeling. When it comes to reading, "audio books can transport you beautifully," says Ferguson. Check out Almost French by Sarah Turnbull, Only in New York by Caroline Overington and NW by Zadie Smith. A large part of big-city tourism involves participation and, thankfully, it seems the tourism industry is only limited by its imagination (well, and the pandemic). You can livestream Broadway shows (broadwayhd.com) and jazz performances from some of NYC's best clubs (jazz.org), tour the world's top museums at Google Arts and Culture, and even sign up for online cocktail making tutorials (liquor.com). Cheers to that!


IF YOU'RE CRAVING A DIFFERENT CULTURE

An instant way to transport yourself to another place? Create a local dish or craft, advises Ferguson. Invite the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside into your home by signing up to Nonna Live cooking classes (nonnalive.com). Also check out Class Bento (classbento.com.au) for food and craft workshops.


Fans of the US will eat up the Colorado Calm Playlist on Youtube, which features trans synonymous with the state. Meanwhile, I Dreamed of Africa (both the movie and the book by Kuki Gallmann), Into the Wild, and Wild (again, the film adaptions and the books by Jon Krakauer and Cheryl Strayed, respectively) will take you to new parts of the planet.


When it comes to virtual exploring, check out AirPano (airpano.com). This clever site is packed with 360° panoramic videos that give guided tours from Belfast to Bhutan. You can even do a Cuban shark diving experience and hover over Victoria Falls. What better way to spend your lunch break?


IF YOU'RE AFTER A SPIRITUAL GETAWAY

Sure, you can read Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love or The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, but any guru worth their Himalayan salt will tell you you've got to put in the work yourself.


Fortunately, the pandemic has made joining retreats and wellbeing workshops remotely that much easier, and armchair travellers can enjoy everything from a full range of virtual exercise programs and self-training tutorials at Thailand's Chiva-Som (chivasom.com) to Face Gym (facegym.com) where bespoke movements are tailored to your personal face training goals (yep, it's a thing). You can even sign up for a three-day Balinese retreat through Escape Haven's Escape @ Home (escapehaven.com) - subscribers can dive into yoga and meditation, workshop goal setting and learn to cook recipes from a holistic chef.


Of course, if that's all too much, there's nothing wrong with an evening in front of Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited or Baraka. Now if you could please take your seat, the self-care journey can begin...


IF YOU'RE DREAMING OF AN ISLAND PARADISE

Pour yourself a glass of ouzo and picture a sugar-white volcanic rock vista dusted with cobalt bars or churches. Or better yet, a tinu motu rising out of an azure lagoon, all swaying palm trees and ukulele music.


Lock in an afternoon in the Greek Islands, Bora Bora or Fiji by soaking up Mamma Mia, Couples Retreat or The Blue Lagoon. Prefer to put yourself into the picture? Sir David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef (attenboroughsreef.com) is an interactive exploration of our own beautiful backyard.


Spotify also has a multitude of playlists, from Authentic Luau Music to underwater and snorkelling sounds. Why not get them in your ears as you read The Beach by Alex Garland or A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson, or even as you browse the island-heavy Insta accounts of @brooklynhawaii and @beaches_n_resorts? After all, this is all about choosing your own adventure - 2021 style!