It’s safe to say our travels for 2020 haven’t exactly gone to plan. Like most of our housesitting buddies, we’ve had to deal with a colossal shortage of housesits, cancelled sits, last minute invitations and a complete strike through the list of adventures we had laid out for this year. You can read about what we did manage to get up to in our previous blog post – Travelling during Covid: Our 2020 housesitting review

Lockdown 1.0 hit our ‘2020 dreams’ list hard as we instantly had three months of housesits cancelled, including our would-have-been-first in Zurich where we’d planned to arrive by train, travelling up to Switzerland via a trip through Italy. We also had a workaway on a glampsite in France, plans to climb Mount Snowdon and Chris’ 10k race in Brighton all cancelled.

Going into lockdown 2.0, we knew we had to be prepared. We’re locked down with my parents in our hometown in Kent, somewhere we know very well. While we’re relieved to not have the stress of travelling during Covid on our minds, we knew we’d miss travelling and seeing new places. Over the past eleven days (my gosh is it only day eleven?) we’ve been naturally gravitating towards travel-orientated content in the things we consume – from Netflix series, to books, to YouTube videos – and the activities we carve out time for. To help you get through travel bans and cancelled plans, we’ve put together our list of ways to satisfy your wanderlust in lockdown!

Travel local from your doorstep

Although you might not be able to travel far, there will be plenty of places in your local area that are just waiting to be explored. Tired of walking the same route over and over again? Why not try doing it differently. You could walk in a different direction, go off the beaten track (where permitted) or take your exercise at a different time of day. Our local National Trust property, Knole Park, spans almost 1,000 acres which is perfect for exploring – we’ve been making a conscious effort to go for a walk in nature every day and this is usually where we end up, as there are so many possibilities for a completely different walk. Luckily, the weather has been dry which means we can enjoy getting lost in the woodland for hours, admiring the herds of wild deer frolicking together in the morning, or the golden sunset over Knole House in the evening.

Another way of getting out and seeing more of your local neighbourhood is by going for a run – again you can make this different each time! Instead of running the same route, try out new paths that you may not have gone down before – just don’t blame us if you get lost!

The internet is your friend

We’re not big on watching regular TV, but we do love finding gems online with themes relating to topics we’re interested in. One of our all time FAVOURITE films is Captain Fantastic, about a family who live in the wilderness and are forced to head into the outside world. We love the characters of the children, who have been raised to question conventional ideas and think for themselves. Each time we watch it we’re reminded to follow our own path and enjoy our more unconventional life. The same with the documentary Happy, which follows the lives of people from twelve countries across the globe to discover their personal definitions of happiness.

For visual travel inspiration, we’ve recently started to binge Emily in Paris on Netflix – an easy story to follow, with a stunning backdrop of French cafés and famous Parisienne monuments. It’s so gorgeous that I actually felt a pang of sadness at the end of an episode last night, having been inspired by the beautiful scenery for half an hour only to come back down to earth with a bang, realising I was lying in bed in lockdown instead of in a posh hotel overlooking the Seine.

For real life stories (if you like to stay down to earth and avoid pangs of sadness) we highly recommend Eamon and Bec’s YouTube channel – they have recently hit pause on their van life to convert a lakeside cabin in Canada – as well as checking out Swedish videographer Kalle Flodin, who shares an insight into his remote cabin life in the forest. Can you tell it’s our life dream to own a cabin in the woods?! On the subject of remote life in the wild, we can’t forget New Lives in the Wild, hosted by Ben Fogle. If there is one programme that inspires us to get away from it all and live an alternative lifestyle, it is this. It’s so inspiring to see people living in so many different ways – it really goes to show that there is no one way to live.

Chris in particular loves keeping up with the Strawbridges and their show Escape to the Chateau,  in the French countryside. Whilst we might not want a chateau of our own, much preferring tiny houses, the way they are renovating and restoring the chateau back to its former glory is an inspiration in itself. We’re looking forward to the new series coming soon and seeing what they’ve been up to lately!

Next on our list of of things to watch are the adventures of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in their shows Long Way Up, Long Way Down, and Long Way Round. The series follows them as they travel the world by motorbike.

To ensure we’re still making some two-way connections as well as simply consuming, we’ve been signing up to a plethora of Nomadic Matt’s Zoom webinars. From learning how to effectively run a blog, to travel hacking, to taking your pets abroad with you – the Nomadic Network has a fantastic line up of speakers presenting every week. And the best part? It’s absolutely FREE. We can’t thank the Nomadic Network enough for all the amazing Zoom webinars we’ve attended recently – it’s so great to learn more about sustaining full time travel, while meeting new people and swapping ideas in the process!

Game night!

We recently wrote about our love of board games and we now have a new addition to add to our stack of favourites – Ticket to Ride! We found this game last autumn while at a housesit in London and got addicted to it, playing multiple rounds spanning hours most evenings. The basic premise of the game is to build train lines between destinations using different cards, but you have to be careful that your opponent doesn’t block off your route! We bought the Europe version of the game, but there are other versions for lots of different regions such as the USA, Nordics and Japan.

A few weeks ago we saw a post on Instagram from fellow travellers @nuventuretravels, about a game book that they have written. They needed people to test it out and the book sounded right up our street, so we were more than happy to help! The book is full of questions split into four categories; Would you rather..?, If you could..?, Tell me about… and Travel trivia. It’s a great way to learn things about whoever you’re playing with, breaking the ice with travel companions or even to pass time while waiting for lockdown to end!! We’ve been asking each other a few of the questions before we go to sleep most nights and a couple of weeks ago a few new teasers questions came through on an email whilst we were walking in the woods, it gave us some great conversation starters to think about while we walked! The Kindle version of their book is due to be released on November 17th 2020 and for the first couple of days will be free to download! We’ll post a link on our social media on the day so keep an eye out for it! The guys at Nuventuretravels have been posting teaser questions on their Instagram all week too, so give them a follow and enjoy playing!

Ticket To Ride – travel all over the world without leaving your living room!

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Lose yourself in books

A fantastic way to instantly transport yourself across the globe is by reading. Between us we’ve read all of Ben Fogle’s travel books (and loved hearing his tales from the wilderness before his tour was postponed) and we can’t recommend them highly enough! His Everest book Up is especially inspiring, and in the summer I read The Accidental Adventurer, outlying some of Fogle’s most unbelievable expeditions and experiences; from rowing the Atlantic Ocean to running the toughest marathon in the world across the Sahara Desert. This book gave me butterflies in my stomach as my mind began mapping out post-lockdown adventures! A definite must-read for travellers. We can’t wait to read his newest book, Inspire.

Right now I’m in the middle of Helen Russell’s A Year of Living Danishly, all about her year living in rural Jutland, Denmark, and getting to grips with Danish culture throughout the changing seasons. The book is cleverly split into chapters for each month, as Russell learns more about traditions, happiness and adjusting to life in a new country. Her observations are incredibly insightful and I wish there were a series of these books for every country in the world!

Just a couple of our favourite lockdown reads!

Cooking meals from other countries

You may have seen from a few of our Instagram stories that we love to cook, and what better way to feel like you’re in another country than to make a mouth-watering meal inspired by your favourite destination! Think back to the best pizza you had on a trip to Italy – why not dust off your chef’s hat and make some homemade pizza with your favourite toppings? Get creative and have fun with it!

Looking further afield, we have recently discovered some delicious recipes by Mob Kitchen including Brussel Sprout Pad Thai, and their Creamy Halloumi Curry. One of our fave date night meals is inspired by our love of Sweden, where we take extra time and care to put together a plate of Swedish meatballs, hasselback potatoes, lingonberry sauce and beetroot salad. It transports us back to Sweden with every mouthful!

Borrow My Doggy

While right now we feel that housesitting during lockdown is a risk that we don’t want to take, we have filled a doggy-shaped hole in our days by using BorrowMyDoggy. We recently wrote about our experience with the site, as it’s actually how we first gained pet care experience before we started housesitting! Borrowing someone else’s dog during lockdown does come with some risks, but this can be mitigated by being responsible. We make sure to have calls with the owners when we can rather than meet them face to face, and if we are handing over the dogs we make sure this is all done at a safe distance outside. We have our dog walking kit, consisting of our own leads that we can use to walk the dogs, our own poo bags, and a water bowl. Of course normal Covid measures are a must and we make sure to wash our hands often and antibac when we can! It may be a bit awkward at first, but it’s worth going out of your way to stay safe. BorrowMyDoggy have also written their own guide on how to keep safe while using the site during lockdown.

Spike, one of our Borrow My Doggy pals!
Spike, one of our local Borrow My Doggy pals!

Planning future adventures and remembering past trips

Even though we can’t travel abroad right now, we can plan for our future adventures. We’ve made a goal to take on the Kungsleden hiking trail in northern Sweden, and eventually walking to Everest base camp. While we obviously can’t do that during lockdown, we can choose to get out in nature every day and go hiking, getting some training in now so that we can hit the trails when it’s safe to do so.

Another new favourite pastime lately is looking on different websites for quirky places to stay – we love a quirky adventure! We are lucky enough to have vouchers for a stay with Canopy and Stars that we haven’t been able to use this year, so over the past couple of weeks we’ve been drooling over cabins and treehouses on their site looking for the perfect getaway when travel reopens!

When the first lockdown went into effect ZipWorld, in Wales, offered 2 for 1 tickets for some of their activities. One of these is Velocity 2 – the fastest zip line in the world! We’ve had it on our bucket list for a while now, and this offer was enough to convince us to book our tickets. We’re now planning a trip to Wales to redeem them so we can have the luxury of screaming at 100mph!

A surprisingly fun activity for us lately has been to spend time looking back, too. Initially this sounds quite depressing – looking at all the fun you had with furry pals while currently in lockdown – but it can be a great exercise in gratitude. We recently wrote our end of year housesitting review a little earlier than we expected, and this week we’ve gone back through our photos and stats to share on our Get to Know Us Instagram series. Digging through sweet photos of pets as well as snapshots from our travels around the world made us realise just how much we’ve achieved in the past three years. We feel so grateful for all the incredible adventures we’ve had to date, and we’re excited just thinking about all the new four-legged friends we’ll make in the future!

If you haven’t tried housesitting as a way of cheap travel, why not check out our Instagram or blog and read all about how to get started! We recommend checking out our What Is Housesitting? post for a beginner’s guide, with discount codes!

We can’t wait to get back to travelling and share new experiences, but until then we’ve accepted that we’ll have to stay put. While it’s not how we imagined our 2020 would pan out, we hugely appreciate the opportunity to slow down and find hidden gems close to home – from new walking routes, to having the time to get into a fitness routine or try out new recipes in the kitchen. We hope we’ve given you some ideas for how to satisfy your wanderlust during Covid lockdown!

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