The best things to do when you can't leave home

25 Mar 2020

Travelzoo's mission statement has always been to get members off the couch exploring the world -- but if there was ever a time to stay on the sofa, it is now.

The government is enforcing a policy of self-isolation to tackle the spread of coronavirus, but plenty of companies are coming up trumps with brand-new ways to bring the world into your home.

We've rounded up some of our deal experts' free (or very low cost) tips for staying sane while in isolation. See you on the other side!

Credit: Disney

Best for escaping into another world entirely

You don’t have to spend every moment in front of the TV, but a familiar show can be an instant morale booster -- and a blessed relief for parents. Disney+ is a brand-new streaming service launching in the UK on 24 March, giving viewers instant access to more than 1000 family-friendly shows. Disney is offering a 7-day free trial to this new subscription service, which can be cancelled at any time -- to sign up, click here.

You can take advantage of free trials on other major streaming services, too -- Amazon Prime offers a 30-day free trial, while Netflix and Now TV both offer 7-day free trials. Altogether, that's almost two months of free media to tide you over, and you can sync services online to watch together with friends, even if you live alone.

Don't know your Purcell from your Puccini? Now could be a great time to bone up on some high culture, with the MET Opera streaming live nightly operas straight to your home for free.

If you want to reduce your screen time, audio-book service Audible has lots of free stories available, which can all be streamed from a laptop or smartphone while you're doing other bits and bobs. They're also giving away hundreds of kids' books while schools are closed, and you don't even need an account to listen to them. 

Travelzoo has a special offer on various magazine subscriptions -- for just £1, you can get three issues of a top mag delivered straight to your doorstep. You could turn your home into a sanctuary with interiors inspiration from House & Garden or The World of Interiors, or leave loungewear behind with a fashion fix from VogueVanity Fair or Tatler.

Best for virtual globe-trotting (until you can get there in person)

Physical travel may be off the cards for now, but you can still feed your wanderlust virtually. Some of the world's greatest museums offer free online tours, including the British MuseumThe LouvreThe Smithsonian and The Vatican, while Look Up London allows you to take to the streets on a virtual guided walk through a selection of historic London locations with a Blue Badge Guide.

If you're yearning for the great outdoors, you can visit some of the world's most magnificent national parks through your computer with Google Arts and Culture -- we've done a whole blog post on that if you're interested! You can also bring exotic animals like snow leopards into your living room with a selection of live video streams from Australian zoos

And, no matter what's going on outside, it is still possible to see for millions of miles with your own eyes. Put on some warm clothes, fill a flask, and grab your binoculars or telescope, then head to a garden or balcony to look at the night sky. Even if you have no prior knowledge of astronomy, with apps like the free Night Sky you can just point your phone towards a celestial object to discover exactly what you’re looking at.

Best for expanding your horizons and learning new skills

If you’ve always wanted to learn a language or boost your business skills but never managed to get round to it, now is the perfect time. Skillshare has a huge range of courses and offers a 2-month free trial, while more specific apps like Duolingo allow you to spend just a few minutes a day learning a foreign language, in a fun game style. It’s free and there’s even an app for kids. 

If you’ve finally decided to learn to play the guitar that’s gathering dust in the corner, head to Fender Play, which is offering three months of free online lessons for the first 100,000 signups.  You could also have a go at a new hobby. Maybe it’s time for you to get started on your family tree: Ancestry and Genes Reunited both have free trials, giving you access to billions of family records. 

For families with kids, the Twinkl Home Learning Hub is a must. Every day, qualified teachers upload new lessons and activity ideas to help you get involved with learning and create a new routine.

Best for relieving stress and staying active

Whether you're a regular gym bunny, or simply at risk of going stir crazy if you don't channel some energy into exercise, now may be the time to take an online fitness class. There are plenty of free options to help you stay in shape, including The Body Coach TV, fitness coach Joe Wicks’s YouTube channel. Joe is the nation's self-proclaimed PE teacher, and his channel is full of free exercises you can do at home, with no equipment needed.

Les Mills has a free trial on more than 800 online workouts, or you could take advantage of a free trial of yoga, Pilates and meditation classes at Glo. The YouTube channel Yoga With Adriene is another source of free yoga videos for all levels. 
And to help you wind down at the end of the day, the mental health app Headspace has a selection of ambient “sleepcasts” designed to help you drift off to sleep -- a soothing voice will transport you to a quiet campfire in the desert or a sleepy cottage by the beach, creating the perfect conditions to put your mind to rest. The app also has a range of tailored meditation courses, free for everyone, designed to support your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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