Itinerary For A Social Distancing Stay-cation

Ideas for the armchair adventurer during a pandemic.

This March Break is an unusual one. In the last few weeks the coronavirus pandemic has spread quickly to Canada, hitting us hard and fast in two of our most prized cultural institutions – the NHL and Parliament. Hockey was promptly cancelled and the prime minister and his wife have been under quarantine after she was diagnosed with the virus last week.

While most schools have let students out a few weeks or until the end of the semester, and many Canadians are working from home or are on leave, we’ve been asked to limit our social gatherings to help medical professionals “flatten the curve” to contain the spread of this deadly virus.

Introverts have spent their whole lives honing their skills on self-guided entertainment in isolation, but there may be some folks unsure of how to pass the time in this period of uncertainty, quarantine and social distancing.

We’ve gathered a list of stay-cation adventure ideas you can do mostly from the comfort of your home. Besides celebrating travel from a distance and exploring as much as you can without venturing into large crowds, don’t forget to also: take care of yourself, take care of others if you can, look for the helpers and be a helper.

Instead of going to a museum, visit a virtual museum

At the Virtual Museum of Canada, you can find numerous online exhibitions from various museums across the country. The Monastery of the Ursulines of Québec, for instance, offers its four centuries of history online in magnificent 3D images. During the virtual tour, the Sisters open their doors and invite you to admire the monastery’s architecture, art and stained glass windows.

The Canadian Museum of History has many different exhibits available online. From the Cantonese opera to Inuit prints from Cape Dorset, or Quebec folk art to East Coast fisheries, these exhibits have such variety it is almost like taking off on a road trip across Canada over time.

Instead of going to see a play or movie, listen to Canadian podcasts

There are many Canadian podcasts that are informative and fun. Cool Canadian History is one that stands out. Want to learn about pirate queens? Trotsky in the Maritimes? The “Graveyard of the Pacific?” Cool Canadian History has what you’re looking for.

Another option is The Secret Life of Canada. It is hosted by Falen Johnson and Leah Simone Bowen and it is produced by Katie Jensen. Both performers and playwrights, Bowen and Johnson launched the podcast with Jensen last fall, focusing on little-known topics of Canada.

Here is a list of 11 Canadian Indigenous podcasts, shared on New Journeys.

Are you a news and media fan? Try Canadaland.

Interested in true crime? Canadian True Crime is for you. There is also Someone Knows Something, Missing and Murdered, and The Nighttime Podcast.

Instead of going to a spa, give yourself or family a self-care day

You don’t need to go to a thermal spa or a nail salon to “treat yo’ self.” Most spa treatments are things you can do, to some degree, on a small scale at home. Give yourself a luxurious deep condition. Exfoliate your feet. Do face masks with the whole family. Paint each other’s nails and toe nails. Practice French braids or give each other massages. This will be fun and therapeutic – passing time and keeping stress levels down.

Instead of going to the cinema or theatre, watch Canadian content

Netflix alone will have Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience, Baroness Von Sketch and Working Moms. But even if you don’t have Netflix, there are other ways to watch things online.

This Youtube channel has 22 videos of family-friendly documentaries from The Nature of Things. Some of the more fascinating titles are: “Our Garbage is their Dinner” (about possums),”Why Magic Works” and “We Wake Up On A New Planet Every Single Day.”

As well, the National Film Board of Canada website has many free movies to watch about our country’s heritage and cultures. This film archive goes all the way back to 1917.

Instead of going to the gym, stay in shape at home

While we are all a little worried about our health right now, the worst thing you can do is worry. Stress and anxiety is an immunity-killer. A healthy body is a healthy mind and even though you may not be able to go to the gym right now, there are many ways to stay fit at home. If you have exercise equipment already, that is a no-brainer, but even without there are other ways. Body weight exercises. Skipping. Running up the stairs. Squats. Push ups. Lifting jugs or cans.

Just today, Yoga With Adriene released an all-ages yoga video so kids can stay fit and well while they have to stay at home. There will likely be more fitness and wellness content producers opening up their audiences more freely for our collective social distancing.

You can always get some fresh air

Keep in mind that just because you should avoid crowds right now doesn’t mean outdoors is off-limits. Go jogging around the block or take a hike somewhere that doesn’t draw crowds. Walk along a canal or through the woods. Go swinging at the park. Explore a quiet part of town you don’t know well. Bring your camera and take pictures of: birds, graffiti, landscapes, rooftops, coloured doors, skies, or anything your heart desires.

Instead of sending postcard images, colour in the lines of them

The New York Academy of Medicine held its annual Color Our Collections initiative recently, which invites libraries, archives and other institutions around the world to upload PDF versions of colouring books based on their own collections. This project then allows these colouring books to be available for free download to the public.

This year there are over 100 institutions that participated. Of those, some Canadian institutions uploaded their own designs: the University of British Columbia Library, Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec, as well as the University of Calgary’s Libraries and Cultural Resources.

The final coloured creations can then be shared online for the world to admire using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.

Instead of going to school, take a free online course

Lots of schools are closing for the weeks or even the rest of the semester. This will have impacts on elementary, high school, college and university students. Luckily, there are many options for students of all ages.

There are 450 Ivy League courses you can take online. All eight American Ivy League schools offer some: Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale, Columbia and University of Pennsylvania.

From computer science, to humanities, to engineering – almost every subject has an available course. Read them on the Free Code Camp website, organized into 13 different categories.

When it comes to the kids, there are online options as well.

Scholastic has released free online learning tools for students. Other options include: Brain Pop, Ted Talks, PBS Kids and DuoLingo. Social Studies options are: Crash Course, Nat Geo Kids and Smithsonian for Kids. And when it comes to science, families can take advantage of NASA Kids Club and How Stuff Works.

As well, the children’s book author Oliver Jeffers announced yesterday that he will be reading one of his books every day at 2 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. GMT / 11 a.m. PST. and sharing it online via Instagram Live. He wrote “How to Catch a Star.” His friend Mac Barnett, another storybook writer will be doing the same thing daily but an hour later. So families can watch or listen to both every day during this necessary social distancing.

Plan ahead for future travels

This pandemic will come to an end eventually and people will return to school and work. It might seem like a long time or far away but we know this will be over soon. Until then, why not take this time now to do the things you didn’t have the time for before? Organize things you have been procrastinating. Clean, mend, build the things you have put off. Start or finish the projects you had set aside, waiting for “a rainy day.”

We may not be able to fly off to explore other countries right now and we might not be able to go to the museums, restaurants and other tourist spots we have been planning to for a while. But we can do more research for our next adventures.

We can list out travel gear in detail, tighten up our future itineraries and make sure that once we are free from the necessary social distancing, quarantines and travel bans, we will be certain our next trip will be well worth the wait.