From virtual classrooms and pub quizzes to even virtual doctor’s appointments, 2020 has been a year where plans were halted, upturned and we had to adapt to new ways of living, hopefully temporarily.
Shortly before half of Planet Earth went into lockdown, I had been planning my travels. I had a special trip in mind this year: it was to be my first solo trip abroad, but not your typical female solo traveller. I’d be in the very good company of my pocket watercolours, a few small canvases and paints, and some spectacular European lake views.
I had all but booked, when not one but two key events halted everything. One was pregnancy, the second was a pandemic. Passport put aside for the next nine months at least.
But it got me thinking. A great deal of our holiday experiences take place before we’ve even got to the airport. They happen at the click of a mouse, at the end of an internet connection. We spend days, weeks, maybe even months researching our journey, juggling between flight times, train times and check-in times. We take notes of our “must-sees” and filter out our expectations based on “rated 8 and above”. We pack what we don’t need and forget the essentials.
So why shouldn’t we be free to experience our holidays virtually? I’m certain you could get hooked up to a virtual reality headset and soak in the Caribbean (no need to tell anyone you’re lying in your overgrown back garden). Concerts have been streamed live online, there are live webcams all over famous tourist locations and big cities across the world. Could this pandemic be an excuse to take things a step further? What about virtual flights?
Trapped by a pandemic, scorching heat and an uncooperative body, now is the perfect time for me to take a virtual art holiday. And seeing as I’m not bound by finances or jetlag, I’m going to New Zealand.
From the almost exaggerated green hills of Hobbiton to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on earth, not to mention the home of kakapo and the kea, the islands of New Zealand provide inspiration in bucket loads. Which is why it’s always been top of my travel bucket list.
1. Explore Auckland and visit the Stardome Observatory (North Island)
2. Relive my favourite films in “Hobbiton” in Matamata (North Island)
3. Cross to the South Island and look out for sperm whales in Kaikoura (South Island)
4. Head across to Mount Cook for some sightseeing (South Island)
5. Head further south to the iconic fjord of Milford Sound via Queenstown (South Island)
6. Visit Dusky Sound at the very tip of the South Island (South Island)
7. Travel back north and hop across to Maud Island, home of the Kakapo, without disturbing them!
Hopefully I’ll be able to step a physical foot in this surreal place, but there are advantages to virtual travel. No adverse weather conditions: you can discover a place in any number of weathers, any light and any time of day that you want. There are no travel expenses, no long airport queues or even longer baggage reclamation lines. As a painter, there will be no flies sticking to my canvases, or supplies being blown away by the wind. I won’t have to put my pet in kennels, and it’s good for the environment too.
- Notebook and pen
- Sketchbooks – assorted sizes
- Ink pens and biros
- Watercolour paints
- Watercolour paper
- My favourite tea mug
- Laptop and an internet connection
- Travel-themed books – to be decided
- Comfy pajamas
The Non-Packing List (things I no longer need)
- Time off work
- A passport
- A suitcase (or three)
- A neck cushion
- Holiday outfits
There are disadvantages too. It’s not as authentic building your experience from pieces of others’ memories, Instagram snaps, YouTube videos and Google Earth routes. You won’t get to meet the locals and discover the hidden gems that only they know (if it says “for locals only” and you found it on TripAdvisor, you’ve been had).
So I’m off on my first solo art holiday, right from the comfort of home.
Keep an eye on this blog and make sure to tap that “follow” button to join me on this journey in a series of upcoming blogs.