A hell of a lot has changed this week, huh? We’ve gone from most-things-as-normal to everybody-stay-at-home in the space of a few days.
Any other time, any other year, I wouldn’t have really minded. As of yesterday, pubs and restaurants are shut in the UK, but I can live with that. Working from home? Fine by me. Instead, we’ve had our dream trip to Japan cancelled four days before we were supposed to leave, and people have been persistently asking or making comments about our wedding, which is the last thing I want to think about right now. I’ve had breakdowns, I’ve had to be taken out of work by a first aider, and my mental health is the worst it’s been since I owned the shop (note: I sold the shop five years ago).
But we’re all in this together, and not one of us is unaffected. So firstly, I wanna check in with you all. How are you holding up? Are you self-isolating, or are you still having to go to work?
I’m still at work, although we are taking the next few days off because we already had it booked, and we really need the down-time. Work is stressful as hell right now, and they’ve even split my team up between different offices to “separate” people, but on the upside, we should be allowed to work from home soon (which means most of the work-related stress this week was pretty much for nothing).
Until then, I’m staying in as much as I can, as I’m sure many of you are. Whether you’re self-isolating or having to work from home, you’re probably suddenly spending a lot more time at home than you’re used to, and it’s only natural that it’s going to affect you.
I’m pretty sure every blog is going to have a list like this one, but I wanted to throw in my ideas to the mix because I’ve got a few that I haven’t seen on other ones! Some of them are travel-related, others aren’t (but you could make them travel-related).
So here are 14 ideas for how to keep yourself occupied; one for every day of self-isolation.
1. Catch up with all your admin
Over the weekend, I’ve gone through alllllllll my emails that I’ve been meaning to clear out for weeks. If you’re in the same boat as me, it’s a great time to get that inbox count to zero (or at least, like, 10).
Because we’ve just moved house, we’ve got a few things to catch up with, so we’ve spent the weekend making sure everything is in place for all our bills etc, and of course unfortunately I’ve been having to go through and make sure all our accommodation for Japan is cancelled, and try and claw back as much money as possible before going to our insurance company.
I’ve EVEN completely cleared the desktop on my computer! So, so many unnecessary files. (Don’t even ask me about my browser tabs…)
Get everything in your life up-to-date – I always find it really liberating until I fall behind again!
If you’re a fellow blogger, go through old posts and update them to be SEO-friendly, add tags to your photos, add internal links, make pins… all things I’ve been slowly doing, but would quite like to get up-to-date now!
2. Download games & apps to help with mental health
There are pleeeeeenty of games to play on your phone or computer, whether it’s to relax and wind down or stimulate your brain.
At the moment, mental health is at the forefront of people’s minds because let’s face it, self-isolation isn’t the ideal scenario for a lot of people.
I’ve just downloaded Happy Colour (available on Android and Apple), which is exactly what it sounds like: to save me going out to the shop and buying colouring books and pens, this is a colour-by-numbers app that I’ve spent half of today doing!
Some of my go-to games include WordStacks, Woody and Solitaire Tri-Peaks, but obviously there are thousands and thousands to choose from. Maybe Candy Crush will make a comeback soon?? And who remembers Farmville!? Haha.
3. Play travel quizzes
I absolutely love Sporcle, and they have tons of quizzes covering every subject you can think of – but my favourite section is of course geography!
Here are some of the best ones (although once you start, it’ll be a real rabbit hole!):
I also just played this one about European capitals and it was really tough!! I amazingly got as far as Monaco… in the knowledge that I didn’t know Andorra’s capital.
There are also quizzes to do with pretty much every TV show you can think of (name every main character in Lost, guess the Netflix show from the thumbnail), history, literature, music, name the Harry Potter movie from the screenshot, name all 151 original Pokemon, finish the Disney lyrics, you name it.
Honestly, I could probably fill my two weeks just doing these! So addictive, and you can involve your housemates or even get your friends online to join in.
4. Do something you’ve been meaning to do for ages
This will mean something different for everyone, so for me, it’s going through all my travel photos from last year, editing them all and uploading them to Facebook.
I also want to get a bunch printed, which I’ve been meaning to do since we got back from Australia… err, three and a half years ago!! I also keep meaning to make a travel video from our Canada/USA road trip… in 2018.
But it could be something simple like putting up a shelf or sorting out the garden or tidying the shed. Whatever’s been on your list for months, get it done!
5. Get creative
This could follow on from the previous one – make that scrapbook you’ve been putting off making forever! I want to do this, again with all my travel photos. In fact, even more so now because we have a lovely “adventure book” (yes, it’s the one from Up!) which we plan to fill with photos from our ten years together, to display at our wedding as a guestbook.
Maybe you want to start writing something, or knit something, or even start growing plants and vegetables.
6. Learn a new skill
This has been on a lot of lists I’ve seen, but really with all the YouTube tutorials out there, you can pretty much learn how to do anything these days! Fixing mechanical issues with your car, building a computer, cooking a new recipe (or erm, like me, cooking pretty much at all), coding websites, or using Lightroom to edit photos.
Or, if you’re planning some long-term travel in the future (or even if you’re not), how about learning a new language?
7. Cook a meal from your travels, or from a country you want to visit
Now seems like a good time to learn to cook something new (if you can find the ingredients amongst the panic-buying chaos!). Whether it’s perfecting your spaghetti carbonara or whipping up a mean Pad Thai, you could be bringing back travel memories even more with the taste of your travels.
If there’s a local restaurant that you’ve always been meaning to go to, see if they’re offering takeaways and try and support them by getting it delivered. Obviously this is harder now that pubs and restaurants are closed in the UK, but many of them are offering deliveries and they’ll be happy for the support at the moment.
Even more importantly: if you’re going for a takeaway and can’t decide, go for a Chinese!! Chinese takeaways are really struggling, and are absolutely not being helped by people like Trump calling it the “Chinese virus”. Let’s support our local Chinese!
8. Read all those unread books on your bookshelf & catch up on your watch list
Hands up who has a whole pile of books that you’ve owned for years but have never picked up to read? *raises hand*
Well, one good thing about being stuck inside is you can get stuck into those books, and they’ll even transport you to all the places you can’t go right now. Bonus points for travel books, but anything is good at the moment.
And if you’ve got a million and one TV shows and movies saved to your list on Netflix? It’s time to work your way through them!
This goes for video games as well – even if you’re not playing new ones, Ash has been re-playing Red Dead Redemption a lot recently.
If you want some of my travel-related recommendations, check out:
- Bill Bryson – pretty much any book, but my favourite is Down Under
- How Not To Travel The World by Lauren Juliff
- Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
- Extreme Frontiers by Charley Boorman
- Long Way Down by Charley Boorman & Ewan McGregor
- Departures (Amazon Prime, annoyingly it used to be on Netflix)
- Dark Tourist (Netflix)
- Top Gear (BBC/Netflix)
- Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father (Netflix)
- An Idiot Abroad (my blog is named after it!)
- The Mekong River with Sue Perkins (she’s also done a Japan one which we’ve been meaning to watch!)
- Around The World In 80 Days with Michael Palin
- The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
- The Motorcycle Diaries
- Hector And The Search For Happiness
- Up! (not strictly travel, but certainly adventure!)
(Please note the above links are affiliate links, and any purchases you make will earn me a tiny bit of commission at no extra cost to you!)
9. Have a clear out
If you’ve been meaning to go through all your clothes or clear out the drawers around the house, now’s your chance!
It might not be the easiest time to actually sell things, but you can always put those to one side to deal with later, and just cut through all the crap first.
If you’ve got drawers full of cables and random things that you don’t even know why you’ve kept, get rid. Go through all your medicine and throw out anything that’s way out of date. Anything to clear the clutter!
10. If you can leave the house – explore your local area
A lot of people have been getting mixed up between self-isolating/quarantining and social distancing. Unless you are self-isolating, there’s nothing wrong with going to a local park or on a hike and soaking up some of the outdoors; in fact it’s very good for your mental health, and overall health too.
The National Trust of Scotland has even opened up its parks and gardens for this.
If you’re into photography, it’s a good time to go and find the best spots, especially while things are quiet.
They say that you need to have immediate contact with someone for 15 minutes to pass anything on, and there’s apparently a low chance of it happening outdoors, so even if you are carrying something, I don’t see what’s wrong with getting some fresh air (disclaimer: obviously I’m not a medical expert). And if you’re practising social distancing properly (which you should be), you won’t be getting all up in other people’s grill anyway.
11. Have Facebook/Skype/etc chats with friends and family
It sucks not being able to see your friends, I really get it. I don’t see my family much anyway, so I regularly video chat with my parents on Facebook messenger.
This is also a great chance to check in with family members or friends that you don’t often speak to. Whether it’s someone you’ve been meaning to have a catch up with, or you just want to check that they’re doing alright, it’s important that while we’re distancing ourselves physically, that we make other connections to help each other out (and also keep us kinda sane).
You could even have “dinner dates” and chat while you cook and then eat dinner “together”!
12. Indulge in self-care
Practising self-care is so important, and very often we don’t give ourselves enough time for it. But in times like this, I think it’s essential.
Make sure to look after yourself – even if you’re working at home and not strictly self-isolating, keep your routine, shower as often as you would normally. It could be a good time to experiment with your hair and make up, too. You don’t need to look good at home, but why not make the most of the fact it won’t matter if it goes wrong? You don’t need to face anyone, anyway. (Unless you’re in Skype meetings all day!)
Self-care means lots of things to everyone. It could be working out more (something a lot of people are going to suffer from seeing as gyms are closing), making yourself look good, deactivating social media (which I’ve done), or simply giving yourself half an hour to breathe.
I’m actually really worried for people’s welfare at the moment – please, please look after yourself!
13. Travel “virtually”
In today’s digital world, it’s never been easier to travel… right from the comfort of your couch!
- You can explore almost anywhere with roads on Google street view, so if you really fancy a trip to Venice but have no idea when we’ll ever be allowed to visit Italy again, stick the little street view man on some pathways between the canals and let yourself get lost just like we did.
- Wanna go beyond the roads? You can explore most of the USA’s national parks on Google Earth! Just choose a park and then use the arrows on the bottom right. This is sooo cool; I’ve already gone through Yosemite, a national park I’ve been to, but I’m looking forward to “exploring” some that I haven’t.
- Not only that but loads of museums around the world are now giving “virtual tours” so if you’re desperately craving a cultural experience, you can do just that from the comfort of your own home.
- Want something else to watch? Lots of zoos have live cams of their animals! One in particular is Edinburgh Zoo, which offers live viewing of their pandas, penguins and koalas!
- Vancouver Aquarium also has webcams on their otters, jellyfish and penguins!!
This has reminded me of the website that used to let you watch rescued kittens playing, and you could remote control their toys! I can’t find it now, but if anyone knows what I’m on about and knows whether it still exists, please put it in the comments!
14. Plan your next trip
Although it’s impossible to say when this will all be over, it WILL be over one day. I especially wouldn’t recommend booking anything right now, but there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead, right?
If you’ve had a trip cancelled in the last week or two and you’re anything like me, planning a trip might cause a bit of a sore point right now, but there are lots of things you could do to prepare, too.
If you’re lucky enough to be keeping your job with full pay, and you’re at home and not spending much money, consider starting to plan that dream trip that you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t justify spending the money.
And if you’re struggling at the moment, like sadly a lot of my friends are, start looking at ways to earn money from home. I have a bunch of side hustles to keep me ticking over and add to my travel fund if you need some ideas.
There are tons of ways to plan a trip – it doesn’t just mean looking up flights and seeing what the main attractions are. Check out travel blogs (God knows they need your help right now, with traffic and affiliate income tanking), save places and ideas on social media, make a pretty budget planner spreadsheet, write all your ideas in a nice notebook.
Even if it’s not for a specific destination, how about creating a “bucket list” if you don’t have one already?
And even if you don’t know when you’re going to go, there’s nothing wrong with getting it all together and then when the time comes, you’ll be ready to book it!
Please – everyone stay safe and be responsible! But also look after yourselves.
It’s going to be a tough few weeks or months or however long it takes to beat this thing. But life is going to be ever sweeter when we bounce back on the other side.
Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions to add!