We’ve been here before – lockdown. It can be overwhelming to face another round of isolation and cancelling travel plans, and this is exactly why it’s so important to take care of our mental health at this time. So, just how do you put a pep in your step?
A house swap holiday in Melbourne is a great way to save money and enjoy everything this vibrant city has to offer. You could swap homes with someone in another part of the city and explore a new area. Even with many pubs, clubs and restaurants not fully open, there are still so many ways to enjoy Melbourne. Here are some tips for us Melbournians on how to be a tourist at home!
Pack some sensible footwear and get walking: It’s an obvious one, but just get out and see the city. When friends and I catch up for walks, we ask ourselves which cardinal point we’ve been neglecting and set off accordingly: no destination, no expectations, just long, exploratory walks. Why not house-swap to the opposite side of town and take a look around on foot? Chuck on some headphones with a friend and get out there: you’ll never be short of something to talk about.
Go green: If you’d rather a destination to your walk, why not try exploring a new park? Melbourne is home to so many beautiful green spaces there’s bound to be one near you (or your house swap destination). My favourite park activity is to find a sunny spot and dog watch. Dogs have truly been beacons of light in this quarantine. They've had their families home a lot more and they’re having the time of their lives! Pack a picnic and settle in for some live-action entertainment.
Get nostalgic: Another fun activity for the park (but anywhere will do) is heading to an old-school lolly shop (I recommend The Original Lolly Store on Lygon), picking out a mixed bag (the ones that you pay for by weight - you know the sort) and having a trip down memory lane as you work your way through the selection. We’re allowed to treat ourselves on holiday!
Support the local economy: A house swap holiday means you save the money you'd normally spend on accommodation, so you can use some of those savings to support the local economy get back on its feet. For some sustenance while you’re out and about, why not support a small food business? There’s no end to the amazing foodie indulgences in and around Melbourne.
I’ve been enjoying sampling chai from different cafes (I can highly recommend Elektra Café on Brunswick St and Bossa Nova on Elgin St), but nothing says holiday quite like ice cream. Why not pick a shop, say, Casa Del Gelato on Lygon St, and challenge yourself to work through the flavours? (Trust me, there are a lot of flavours, you’d really be going above and beyond – it’s feelgood indulging.)
Zoom with a view: By now, I imagine most of us are sick of zoom. We’ve tried out a thousand backgrounds in tutorials and laughed as many a poor soul forgot they had their mic on… it’s old news. But what if you could Zoom as a regular hang out while on a house swap? You could hang out in your new backyard, snug loungeroom or a park, accompanied by a friend (or a Tinder match – I see you!) on the opposite side of the country. Ah, the wonders of modern technology.
Send a post card: an important issue in isolation was staying connected to loved ones but it’s nice to disconnect a little whilst on holiday. Try making this holiday authentic by sending a kitschy post-card to your family or friends describing your holiday adventures. If you’ve house-swapped, why not send one to your home address to your swap partner? You could share your favourite parts of the area they live in. They might even reciprocate.
So there you have it, the lowest budget (and I would argue the highest value) holiday you’ll ever take. Don’t forget your camera because, in the words of Aussie singer Courtney Barnett, “the city looks pretty when you’ve been indoors”.