Like a lot of us at the moment, I've been looking to TV and film to fuel my sense of wanderlust during this period of staying at home - and over the last week, have discovered BBC's Race Across The World which is the perfect escapist show for anyone missing being out on the open road right now.
Airing on Sunday nights, Race Across The World follows five couples as they are given the challenge of traveling from two extraordinary destinations, without flying and on a limited budget. The first series (which aired last year) started in Greenwich, London and saw the teams tasked with reaching Singapore, whilst this new series sees a new set of contestants given the challenge of traveling 25,000km from Mexico City to Ushuaia, Argentina - the southernmost city in the world.
Currently four episodes in (which I have shamelessly binged over the past week!), the teams in the latest series are given checkpoints spanning Central and South America and a budget of just £1,453 (£26 per day) to complete the journey within the allocated two months. However, the route and method of transport they take is up to them, with the focus being on both completing the race itself but also seeing as much as this incredible continent as possible.
As a result, you - the viewer - really feel like you're going on an amazing adventure yourself, experiencing all the highs and lows of traveling through the eyes of the contestants. And this is what I think makes the show so special. Unlike travel documentaries which are often fronted by a well-known figure and undoubtedly give glowing reviews of unique and exotic encounters around the world, what this series does is fills in the bits in between, offering an all encompassing, realistic view of what it's like to actually go on a backpacking adventure from the perspective of everyday folk.
So far, the teams have visited some stunning destinations including natural beauty spots and historical cities in countries such as Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Peru, and I feel like I've lived each moment alongside them - good and bad. From marvelling at the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica, to the exhaustion of gruelling overnight bus journeys; the adrenaline rush of riding Huacachina's sand dunes in Peru, to the strains of living and eating on a tight budget, it's an incredibly visceral experience which you can get completely immersed in.
It highlights that traveling isn't always the rose-tinted, collection of Instagrammable moments that we're sometimes led to believe; that there are often days when you miss home, crave more air conditioning and a decent shower, or just feel overwhelmed by the amount you're packing into every second. But that's all part of the whole experience of seeing the world, and arguably makes those "wow" moments when you stop at an incredible viewpoint or finally reach your destination, even more satisfying and significant.
Having traveled through part of South America in 2014, I'm loving seeing some of the spots we visited feature on the show, as well as relating to lots of the challenges that the teams have been faced with along the way. In this difficult time where there is little to look forward to and many of us are starting to feel slightly claustrophobic in our own spaces, Race Across The World is making me grateful for the amazing experiences I've been lucky enough to have and vicariously enjoy a global adventure from my living room!
Race Across The World continues on Sundays at 8pm on BBC Two
If you'd like to apply for the next series, please see here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/take-part/race-across-the-world-series3