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Take a Mental Holiday With These 10 Travel Books

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us holed up to prevent further spread of the virus. While the idea of lounging at home with nothing to do may have sounded like a dream mere months ago, it can rather quickly lead to boredom, frustration and a general case of cabin fever. While we can’t encourage you to escape to the outside world just yet, there’s nothing stopping you from disappearing on an excursion of a different sort. Lose yourself in an adventure and take a mental holiday with these 10 travel books.

Into The Wild

Christopher Johnson McCandless’ wanderings through the Alaskan wilderness are told by Jon Krakauer in this biographical account. McCandless faces the very human emotions of loneliness, persistence and, ultimately, peace as he goes on a journey of self-exploration amid one of the cruellest and most desolate landscapes in the world, and by the closing page, you’ll be planning your own post-COVID19 backpacking trip.

Eat, Pray, Love

Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir-style account will have you in stitches one second, and bawling the next. Wanting to escape her life as a modern American woman is all too relatable, and she promptly whisks you along on her escapades, first eating her way through Italy, then learning how to pray in an Indian ashram, and finally coming to terms with self-love in Bali. The autobiography functions as both entertainment and inspiration for every reader.

bali - flower arrangement

The Alchemist

This classic tale follows the forays of a shepherd boy as he travels from Spain to Egypt, chasing his dreams and adventure! Author Paulo Coelho puts a philosophical spin on a simple story, and the pages are littered with quotes sure to inspire wanderlust in even the least intrepid reader.

The Great Railway Bazaar

Paul Theroux depicts his sojourns while following the famous and now obsolete Hippie Trail from London to Asia for over 4 months. His narrative takes place during the 1970s and it’s interesting for the modern reader to reflect how different the world was almost half a century ago.

The City of Djinns

This historical account of India’s capital outlines Delhi’s rich history, complex culture and key characters. While non-fiction may not be your first choice when it comes to escapism, William Dalrymple’s story-telling flare is unmatched and will transport you right to the bustling streets of Delhi.

India farmers market - show casing fruits, vegetables and spices

Down Under

I say the name Bill Bryson and you’re already reaching for the phone to call your local library. In Down Under, Bryson gives an all-inclusive account of life in Australia, told in his usual jocular tone, and touches on everything from geography and climate to the pioneers who first dared to navigate the notoriously desolate landscape.


Rolf Potts’ tale of bravery and acceptance is loved by many. While on the surface a story of escaping the drudgery of daily life to go to new places, learn new languages and meet new people, the deeper meaning is to escape the comfort zone, accepting and loving each new experience, good or bad, with the goal of growth. A must-read for those feeling the effects of isolation!

Lost on Planet China

In a country as vast and populated as China, it’s easy to get lost! J. Maarten Troost seamlessly entwines travelogue with humour, while still depicting China’s ancient cultural heritage and social idiosyncrasies that often leave tourists baffled, yet somehow remain endearing.

China - ancient Chinese building on the waters edge

Blue Highways

William Least Heat-Moon takes his reader on a tour of the various aspects of the rural American countryside. Featuring memorable encounters with locals and vivid descriptions of the highways that weave between America’s small towns, you’ll feel as though you’re in the passenger seat alongside Heat-Moon until the closing page.

Into Thin Air

Jon Krakauer (sound familiar?) now steps into his own exploring shoes in his personal account of the Mount Everest expedition in the mid-1990s. The trip turned into a disaster when a severe snowstorm combined with heightened competitiveness and resultant overlooking of safety procedures, finally culminating in the deaths of eight climbers. The story takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster and will have you itching to turn the page until the very end.

We hope these reads will help you pass the time in this climate of isolation and social distancing, and keep your travel bug alive and well for when the global situation reaches stability and resolution. For now, stay safe and be kind to one another!

Source: simplifies your communication needs when travelling and takes the risk out of high international roaming costs. We offer a range of pre-loaded, pre-activated and pre-registered world travel SIM cards so you’ll be connected when you arrive in the country you are visiting. Tourists, students and businessmen have been talking like a local in South Africa, USA, Europe with since 2010. It’s time to ‘Explore your world’.

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Italy’s Lockdown Leaves Venice’s Canals Cleaner Than Ever

Much of Italy has been a ghost town over the past weeks as the COVID-19 virus forced the country into full lockdown, and Venice is no exception. One of the positives of the pandemic (and they are few, so we aim to make the most of them should they arise), is that there has been a dramatic reduction in pollution in affected areas. Venice’s typically-bustling canals are now eerily quiet and… clean!

The waterways are usually murky due to the various boats, ships and gondolas that stir up sediment, but since the canals have been out of use, the water has had time to settle, and now offer a glimpse of the wildlife lurking in its depths, including schools of various fish. Wild swans have also taken full advantage of the quietude, and have been seen drifting along past deserted piazzas and desolate alleyways. Venetian locals have even taken to filming the newly-crystal waters, having never previously appreciated the extent of the fauna flourishing beneath the inky surface.

A swan preening in the canals of Venice

Further afield, Sardinian locals have had the treat of a few dolphin sightings along the coastal regions due to reduced sea traffic. The Sassari region has also had a few unusual visitors in the form of wild boars, who wander through the quiet streets while locals take shelter in their homes to avoid the spread of the virus.

The restrictions placed not only on canal traffic but transport and industry in general, have also caused a great reduction in air pollution. NO2 levels across northern Italy have dropped significantly over major cities, including Venice, Rome, Milan, Bologna and Turin. Locals have noticed the effects of the cleaner environment, and hope to find a better balance between industry and eco-awareness once the effects of the virus peter out.

Border closures have also reduced nitrogen oxide levels, as flights have been greatly reduced, with many airlines scrapping European flights altogether to prevent further global infection. Italian health workers have been taking measures to reduce local transmissions, including disinfecting streets, swimming pools, plazas, pavements, bridges and other public spaces. They have been commended by the local council, who described their actions as “exceptional.”

An unusually quite Venice canal and bridge, with clean flowing water

The COVID-19 lockdown is just one example of a major impact on Venice’s thriving tourism industry. 2019 saw a disastrous flood destroy many areas of the Floating City. Venice alone attracts many visitors from across the globe, including China, on an annual basis, and repeated threats to the major tourist trade could have severe and long-lasting repercussions on the Italian economy.

Meanwhile, Venetian authorities have ramped up the distribution of COVID-19 tests. Their hope is that through identifying and isolating virus-positive patients, they can improve control over the spread of the coronavirus. Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region (which includes Venice), has also urged locals to remain indoors and avoid all unnecessary contact. Patients are encouraged to remain in self-isolation to avoid placing further strain on the already-struggling healthcare system. He went on to warn, “If you do not follow the rules, the healthcare system will crash and I will have to impose a curfew.”

Be sure to stay up to date with the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view the World Health Organisation’s official coronavirus disease outbreak page here. Stay safe and be kind to one another!

Source: simplifies your communication needs when travelling and takes the risk out of high international roaming costs. We offer a range of pre-loaded, pre-activated and pre-registered world travel SIM cards so you’ll be connected when you arrive in the country you are visiting. Tourists, students and businessmen have been talking like a local in South Africa, USA, Europe with since 2010. It’s time to ‘Explore your world’.

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Coronavirus: How to Stay Protected When Travelling During the Outbreak

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging international travellers to remain cautious and prioritise their health during the recent outbreaks of coronavirus in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and more recently Iran and Italy. While many are on edge about the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, a few simple hygiene reminders and awareness of one’s risks can go a long way in reducing further cases. Here’s what you can do if you plan on travelling to or from an affected area, or simply want to reduce the risk of contraction while in international public spaces, as well as what procedures are to be expected while in transit.

Keep Clean

The WHO has promoted sufficient hygiene as the most important way to prevent further spread of the illness. This includes frequent washing of hands, covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding contact with one’s own mouth and nose, or those of others. Since this is a virus, anti-bacterial hand gels are not a sufficient substitute for warm water and soap. Surgical Masks have not yet been determined to be effective barriers in avoiding the transmission of the virus, although if you suspect you have caught the virus, it may assist in preventing you from passing it on.

What To Do If You Become Ill

Should you become unwell while abroad, self-isolate, stay indoors and seek medical treatment either through your health insurance broker, or local public health guidelines. It is important you inform any doctor, clinic or hospital in advance of your visit. Only resume travel once you have completely recovered. Should you return home from an affected area, you should monitor your condition closely for at least 14 days post-travel. If you begin to exhibit flu-like symptoms, including; a fever, cough and shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention.


Some countries have employed temperature and symptom screening procedures at customs controls. Should you be entering a foreign country with screen procedures, ensure that you have permission to do so. Keep up to date with any potential travel restrictions before and during your travels. For example, foreign nationals entering the United States will be denied access if they have visited China or Iran in the preceding 14 days.

Cruise Lines

Many cruise lines with scheduled stops in Asia have had their routes cancelled or modified to prevent contact with affected areas. One may also be denied re-entry to the country of origin if one has travelled in an affected area. These precautions follow the quarantine of the Diamond Princess ship in Japan after 700 passengers were found to have the virus, resulting in at least 5 fatalities.

Flight Cancellations

Many international airlines have halted travel to China, and these cancellations may begin to be extended to other affected areas. Some airlines are offering waived fees in lieu of the cancellations, but it is best to check with your specific airline whether your flight will proceed as scheduled or, in the event of a cancellation, whether you will receive a refund.

Travel Insurance

While airlines and accommodation facilities seem to be doing their utmost to refund any cancelled bookings, a trip cancelled due to the outbreak may not necessarily be refunded in full. Most standard travel insurance packages will not account for the effects of the virus, however, if you have a Cancel For Any Reason policy, portions of your trip may be covered in the event of cancellation. If you have already purchased an insurance package and are concerned about your trip being cancelled, it’s best to contact your broker directly for information about the extent of your coverage.

Ultimately, as with any international crisis, staying up to date with reliable information as it is released is always the best measure. If you can avoid travelling until the outbreak has been contained and the associated risks greatly reduced, this, although not always possible, is recommended. View the WHO complete coronavirus library here.

Sources:, , simplifies your communication needs when travelling and takes the risk out of high international roaming costs. We offer a range of pre-loaded, pre-activated and pre-registered world travel SIM cards so you’ll be connected when you arrive in the country you are visiting. Tourists, students and businessmen have been talking like a local in South Africa, USA, Europe with since 2010. We have partnered with some of the worlds most reliable; car rentalflight bookinghotel booking, travel experience and travel insurance companies. So, get set up and ready to go with – before you travel. It’s time to ‘explore your world with us’.