If you’ve never experienced long term travelling before, you’ll likely be surprised by how much downtime you have. The fact is, unless you’re a millionaire or have the energy of a toddler, you just can’t be skydiving and white water rafting everyday. Travelling boredom is something you’re going to have to deal with. You might be on a 5 hour bus journey or you might be staying in tonight because you blew your weeks budget last night; at some point you’re gonna be looking for cheap ways to entertain yourself.
We just spent nearly 2 weeks unable to leave our room due to illness, so had to find ways to stay sane (and not kill each other). Here are our top things to do to save money and beat travelling boredom.
Get a good VPN
Beat travelling boredom the way you would beat boredom at home. A good VPN provider means you can watch your favourite shows from any country in the world. We’ve been watching BBC iPlayer and Netflix – both UK versions from our Thai guesthouse’s WiFi. We use the Hotspot Shield VPN app from the iOS store. It comes with a 30 day free trial – we can’t recommend it enough. As well as keeping you sane during downtimes, it’s also a nice slice of home. When you can watch Strictly Come Dancing and Match of the Day from hundreds of miles away, then speak with your family and friends about it over FaceTime, it’s pretty cool.
Hotspot Shield VPN
Games are a great way to beat travelling boredom. Every traveller we speak to seems to have their own favourite. I’d recommend choosing something strategic that keeps your brain active. Our favourite right now is chess. I’ve always wanted to be good at chess, but never really played it – it’s just as difficult as I imagined. Travelling is a great time to get good at something like chess. Mary refreshed the rules with me, then proceeded to teach me properly by destroying me 12 games in a row. I’m getting closer to her though and using parts of my brain you just don’t use when you’re on this kind of adventure. We bought a beautiful hand carved travel chess set for around £3 in India.
Travel Chess Set
Learn card games that are good for 2 players up to 10 players. For up to 4 players, play spades. For more than 4 players, play sh*thead. Playing cards are a staple among travellers – at some point you’ll learn new games and share your games with others (be warned, the national card game of Laos appears to have no rules for locals, but 100 complicated rules for tourists).
Keep a Journal
Make sure you keep some kind of record of your travels. After only a few months I find myself forgetting what happened, when and where. Imagine how much I’ll have forgotten in 20 years. This is why you should keep a diary. Even if it’s just a paragraph everyday, your future self, kids and grandkids will thank you.
Another option is to keep a public diary, or a blog. It’s really the best way to keep your family and friends updated with detailed accounts of what you’ve been doing without FaceTiming them one at a time.
If you’re like me and you always need something to think about, a blog is a great outlet. You don’t need to worry about making money from it or even providing value, for many it’s just an online diary. Start at WordPress.com – it’s completely free.
If you start to get more serious, buy your own domain and hosting, then use the free WordPress.org to build your site. Monetise with ads or affiliate links. I paid £15 for a year of hosting and domain from godaddy.com.
I actually wrote this blog post about our favourite travelling apps in my downtime this week!
Plan your next trip
Use your downtime to plan the next phase of your trip. Plan how you’re gonna get there, what you’re gonna see, where you’re gonna stay and where you’re gonna eat. If you do it in advance, you will save money. We planned our trip to Bangkok in our recent downtime.
The best research and planning you can do is from recommendations from other travellers. Blogs are the best source of this if you can’t speak to anyone. Download the WordPress app and type in the place you’re going. Dozens of blogs will appear, all with opinions on restaurants, accommodation and things to do. When googling, look for information from actual tourists and when on trip advisor, look at the reviews from people from your home country. Nothing beats opinions and recommendations of travellers who have come before you.
Like a lot of travellers, we came with an iPod packed with music for the long bus and train journeys. After a few months, it gets stale listening to the same songs on repeat. This is where a good podcast app really comes into its own. I recommend the built in podcasts iPhone app from the iOS App Store.
iOS Podcasts App Icon
In the app, subscribe to the shows you like the sound of. I listen to mainly entrepreneurship and marketing content – I recommend the garyvee show, the Tim Ferriss show, Jon Loomers pubcast and the Fizzle show. But this is just me. There’s plenty of travel, lifestyle, health, music, fiction and just about every category you can think of. It’s all free. The best part is that if you’re subscribed to a show, the next time you’re connected to WiFi the latest episode will be automatically downloaded. This means you do not need data to listen to podcasts – they’re stored locally on your phone, then deleted when you’ve listened to them.
When taking a breather between once in a lifetime experiences, beat travelling boredom by giving some of these a try. They’re all free and most of them are good habits. There’s really no better time than travelling to try new things and pick up new habits.