what to do at the new york botanical garden orchid show

We are in uncharted and uncertain territory these days and especially with our shelter-in-place orders. Being forced to isolate ourselves and keep our families occupied and happy is at best a challenge.

Those of us who work from home may be used to a bit of the isolation, but we generally keep ourselves busy with the work. For many, especially if a big part of your job is travel blogging, things have dramatically slowed down. Of course you can watch a ton of TV, read all those books you’ve been meaning to dive into, and clean out those cabinets that you’ve never gotten around to, but when that’s done…

Well, there are many ways to utilize your time in a productive and constructive manner. I will give you a few ideas under each category to get you started. Please add what you come up with in our comments. Let’s find some silver lining out of all the chaos and tragedy.

Virtual Tours

With travel being postponed indefinitely, many of us will be going through withdrawals. Thankfully, there is a solution to help ease the pain. There are many virtual tours you can take from the safety of your home. From kids camps to museums to national parks to theme parks to zoos to historic sites, just search virtual tours and you’ll find plenty. Here are a few favorites.

There are so many amazing national parks in this country filled with stunning scenery and magical sites. Luckily, you can take a virtual tour of many National Parks such as Denali, Badlands, Glacier, and even Yellowstone.

yellowstone national parks off virtual tours for shelter-in-place

The bison of Yellowstone.

And what travel would be complete without hitting some Museums.  You can tour major museums from around the world like the British Museum, the National Gallery of Art in DC, or one of my favorites, Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

New York Botanical Gardens is one of my absolute local places to visit. And since it is seasonal and they offer many events, I get to go quite often. If you have never been, now you can take advantage of NYBG At Home. You can see their beautiful gardens and indoor plants and even take a variety of horticultural classes.

The Intrepid has served our nation for more than 75 years, playing crucial roles in multiple wars and the Space Race. Now a world class museum, The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, continues to serve to promote the awareness and understanding of history, science and service. You can stay engaged digitally through a variety of compelling content from oral histories and virtual tours to resources that serve educators, parents and students, all for free.  

There are even live cams where you can watch what’s going on as it’s happening. I happen to like Farm Sanctuary’s as it gives me a sense of calm. The kids should love this, too.

Learn a Foreign Language

When we get back to traveling again and we will, why not go visit France armed with the language. And I’m not talking French for travelers where you learn to ask directions to the museum, but have no idea what they say when they answer you. I’m talking actually learning to carry on a conversation. It will be a totally different and wonderful experience to speak with the residents as if you are a native.

There are many online choices like Babbel or Rosetta Stone and the free Duolingo. But don’t limit yourself there. See if you have a local French, Italian, Spanish society or whatever language you’re interested in and see if they have someone who will give you lessons via Skype, Zoom, etc. If not, there are companies that offer tutors from all over the world for you online such as Preply and italki.

Whichever method you choose, why not enlist family members and then start talking to each other only in that language! Maybe even start watching foreign language films and see what you can decipher without subtitles. Make it fun. Another idea is to find an online site in the language you want to learn and start reading, like Le Monde newspaper for French. You can always use google translate for what you don’t understand.

Take an Online Class

There are literally thousands of courses you can take online on every subject imaginable. Most are free, but some do charge. You can earn a degree totally online or even take Ivy League courses online for free. One of the most comprehensive resources is Coursera. Perhaps you could take one of the most popular courses ever, The Science of Well-Being, at Yale. In this course, you engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits.

And if you want to learn photography from Annie Leibovitz, creativity and leadership from Anna Wintour, or cooking with Gordon Ramsey to name a few, there’s always MasterClass. They do require an annual membership of $180, but you can buy one get one free right now. You can even take online cooking classes if you’re tired of eating the same food and want something fun to do!

taking online classes while you shelter-in-place

But one of the most fun has to be Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems. Everyday at 1pm ET, Mo Willems, the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence, invites you into his studio where you can draw, doodle, and explore new ways of writing. Grab some paper and pens, pencils or crayons and have at it! You can even catch up on old sessions on youtube.

Get Healthy

Here are some ways to lower your stress and strengthen your immune system to help fight off any germs.

Exercise…If you don’t already have an exercise program going, now is the perfect time to just do it. You need to not only destress, but keep yourself healthy and get fresh air. Many exercise companies are offering online deals for streaming classes, like Neou and YogaAnytime and youtube has tons of videos available.

My boxing gym and Zumba even got creative and are doing classes via Zoom. And Forme Barre is on instagram offering live classes that are taped for later and available on their FB page. But we all need to get outside, so if you can and keep your distance…

go running while you shelter-in-place

Meditation…We could all use some calming and meditation is a good way to achieve lower stress. I know from experience that it’s not easy for everyone to do, but I’m giving it a go again. Resources to help are available online.

Diet…A pandemic is no excuse to stuff yourself with mac and cheese. You do need to eat healthy. Buy frozen veggies and fruit if you can’t get or are afraid to buy fresh. And drink tons of water.

Sleep…There’s little better for your health than a good night’s sleep. Take advantage of being at home and sleep in a bit in the morning. And watch alcohol consumption because it can affect your sleep pattern.

Foster a Pet

This could be a dire time for animal shelters. Not only will they continue to take in animals, but their adoption process will be greatly curtailed if not halted altogether. So, this is the time to consider fostering a pet when your stress levels are so high and you’re home trying to find things to do. Contact your local animal control or rescue group to see how you can help.

how to make the most of shelter-in-place time like fostering a pet

Babs is just one of many pups waiting for a home.

Find a Cause to Support

There are so many causes out there that are desperate for help. Just because you physically can’t volunteer, there are many things you can do from home. Pick your cause or organization and get started. I’m trying to make sure people in my area who are having a financial hardship are able to feed their pets so they don’t surrender them. Help is out there so a big part is getting the word out. I also started a FB fundraiser from one of the local groups trying to help.

I know other people are working with their towns to get phone banks going to contact all residents over 70 and make sure they’re okay or if they need something. The possibilities to help are literally endless…

Comment below with what you’ve found to do that’s constructive and productive. Let’s share our brilliant ideas!