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Map out your next journey

Holidays may be temporarily on hold, but planning new magical trips is still possible, maintains Sarah Marshall


Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia

Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia


Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia

Spontaneity shapes thrilling travel escapades, but there's also a case for careful, methodical planning. Often, the preparation - deciding on a route, reading up about a destination - can be just as enjoyable as the trip itself.

Global movements may have ground to a halt, but thoughts can still roam freely, so use these gifted moments to fantasise about the future, plot epic adventures and set goals to realise life-long travel dreams.

Always wanted to scale a snow-capped mountain or sit within trunk's reach of an African elephant? The time is coming.

Take inspiration from these life-affirming adventures, accompanied by relevant tips for using lockdown to prepare.

Make winter tracks across Siberia

Watching the world unfurl whilst trundling along train tracks is the epitome of slow, nostalgic travel. Long-distance railway journeys provide an opportunity to discover the lay of a land in detail, often accessing off-grid areas and communities - all done from the comfort of a hotel-on-wheels.

The Trans-Siberian is intrepid at the best of times, but a winter departure pushes boundaries even further. Crossing snowy steppes, mountain ranges and eight times zones, the sumptuous Golden Eagle will cover 10,000km, pulled by various steam locomotives.

Visit one of the most remote towns in Siberia, sizzle in a traditional Russian sauna (known as a banya), discover the Kremlin Fortress in Kazan and dog sled across the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal, frozen solid at this time of year.

Make it a reality: Golden Eagle Luxury Trains (goldeneagleluxurytrains.com; 0161 928 9410) offers the Trans-Siberian Winter Wonderland By Steam trip from £14,495pp (two sharing), including 17 nights' on-board and four nights' hotel accommodation, with all food, drink, guiding and transfers included. International flights extra. Departs February 25, 2021.

How to prepare: Try learning a bit of Russian before you depart. Download lessons from online educational resource Babbel (uk.babble.com), designed to arm students with essential and useful phrases using speech recognition for pronunciation. Access for three months costs £20.99.

Form family bonds on a South African safari

Anyone remotely interested in wildlife should do an African safari at least once in their lives. Reassuringly malaria-free, South Africa is a good choice for families and prices are much more reasonable too.

Highly intelligent and credited for their strong social bonds, elephants are a favourite to observe in the wild. Expect to see plenty at Addo Main Camp, on the fringes of Addo Elephant National Park on the Cape, close to Port Elizabeth.

Hailed as excellent for children, the collection of caravans, tents, chalets and rondavels has access to cooking facilities, a swimming pool, bird hide and floodlit watering hole where animals come to drink at night.

Make it a reality: Expert Africa (expertafrica.com) offers a tailor-made, four-day Addo Self-drive Safari from £212pp. Flights extra.

How to prepare: Get a taste of what's in store by tuning into a virtual safari online. Every day at 5am and 2.30pm, safari operator &Beyond presents WILDwatch game drives through the Ngala and Djuma Private Game Reserves in South Africa's Sabi Sands.

Hike through Nepal's Himalayan valleys

The Himalayas present some of the best trekking opportunities on our planet and, although epic Everest is for serious pros, a much more manageable option is the Annapurna Sanctuary, a glacial basin surrounded by mountains.

Regarded as one of the best routes for acclimatisation in Nepal, the natural amphitheatre is revered for its unique plant and animal life and worshipped as a residence for Hindu and Buddhist deities. Hike through towering forests, sleep in traditional tea houses and watch the sunrise over glistening, cloud-piercing peaks. Join an escorted tour to enjoy the full benefits of a local guide.

Make it a reality: Exodus (exodus.co.uk; 0208 772 3802) offer the 16-day Annapurna Sanctuary Trek from £2,299pp, including B&B accommodation, a tour leader and international flights. Various departures from October to December 2020 and March to April 2021.

How to prepare: Along with long walks, try cycling and light jogging during your government-allocated exercise hour. Try working out with a backpack so you can get used to carrying a load. It's recommended to start training three to six months in advance.

Savour wilderness with the kids in Scotland

For back-to-basics living, consider a camping trip for your next getaway. Cheaper than staying in a hotel or cottage, a holiday under canvas is a practical option all round.

Scotland is ripe for adventure. Steps away from the beach, Runach Arainn on the Isle of Arran is a three-yurt glamping site adorned with creature comforts. Wheems Organic Farm on Orkney has a mixture of yurts, sheepskin-lined bothies and meadows for tent pitching available.

True boy scouts and girl guides might consider wild camping. Thanks to the 2003 Land Reform Act, it's possible to pitch a tent on most unenclosed land (although byelaws do apply to East Loch Lomond).

Make it a reality: Cool Camping (coolcamping.com) provides a booking platform for multiple sites in Scotland. Yurts at Runach Arainn start from £80 per night. Pitches for a family of four at Wheems Organic farm start from £17 per night.

How to prepare: Alleviate cabin fever by camping with the kids in your back garden and complete the experience by cooking inventive meals over a campfire. Download a free collection of recipes from Campingwithstyle.co.uk.

Chalet living

Book ahead for next January with this break from Topflight.

Stay in the 3-star Chalet Laponia, Plagne 1800, France, for 7 nights from Jan 9, 2021. A catered chalet costs from €1069pps (approx £950pps). Price includes return flights from Dublin, transfers from Lyon Airport to La Plagne, 7 nights including breakfast, afternoon tea, evening meals with wine on 6 evenings, taxes and services of Topflight's resort manager. To book, call Topflight 028 2108 0007, visit www.topflight.co.uk or call your local agent

City breaks

You could head off on a holiday with a difference with this trip to Iceland and New York next year. For £679pps, travel on February 20, 2021, for a 6-night break. The holiday includes return flights from Dublin, airport taxes and security charges, 3 nights at Radisson Blu Saga, Reykjavik, 3 nights at the Gallivant Times Square, New York, and 23kg checked-in baggage per person. For more information or to book, call Laffin Travel on 028 9032 9472

Belfast Telegraph