The past two years have given us plenty of time in and around our own home. While perfect for some, others are longing to go back to ‘normal’ with unconstrained easy travel pretty much anywhere. Either way, there’s not necessarily always something to look forward to right now, giving the January Blues a chance to hit harder than they normally would.

We’re definitely getting a little bit of this hit ourselves. We can without a doubt call ourselves active and enterprising, but we’re resorting to the same old lunch walk quite often, which isn’t all too inspiring to be honest.

But this absolutely does not mean that nóthing is possible. It just calls for a little more creativity. Time to accept and rethink: if we can’t change the situation, let’s do some things we otherwise never would! Let’s look at our own surroundings in another way. This is a major part of what Go Beyond the Usual is about for us; besides enjoying the longer trips to the faraway unknown, we’re looking for new things to do and surprising places near us.

With a bit of creative thinking, here’s 5 ideas for things to do especially right now. Go beyond the usual!

Idea 1: Tourist highlights near you have never been this quiet

When our 2020 autumn holiday in Italy was a no-go due to everything going on, we quickly switched our focus to a two-week vacation in our home country, the Netherlands. We discovered a ton of new places and found amazing hidden gems. But as we often say we do, we decided to visit some of the major Dutch tourist highlights as well. And as it turns out, now is the perfect time to do so! Without tons of buses filled with tourists from all over the world, the major hotspots can turn into a quiet haven. We visited Giethoorn with memories of tourist flocks and narrow canals filled to the brim with boats, but found there to be nearly no-one else!

Idea 2: Alleys and passageways

Steegjeswandeling Utrecht, alleyways

Oh, how we love the quieter getaways as a nice change from a city’s high pace! Walking through secret alleys and hidden passageways (or ‘steegjeswandeling’,as it’s called in Dutch) takes you from right-in-the-middle-of-it-all to wondering if you’re even still in a city. This is one of our favorite things to search for when we’re in any city, and it turned out to be a perfect lockdown activity; city trips were still possible, especially nearby, and the alleys are (mostly) always open. Curious? Check out our route alley route through Utrecht, and stay tuned, because we’ll soon publish a similar route through Den Bosch!

Idea 3: Urban exploring

Hidden gem Andalusia fabrica de maro

Let’s start off by saying we’re definitely not the most experienced urban explorers, but has specially intrigued us more recently. The abandoned buildings have a mysterious vibe around them, and often the most mind-blowing history. Nature is starting to take back what once was used by mankind. We’ve come to love it! More and more of these places are making our list of places to see soon, but there’s quite a few to find on our travel map & Instagram already: Het Land van Ooit (Noord-Brabant, Netherlands), former German telephone bunker (Drenthe, Netherlands), Former Iron Mine (Murcia, Spain), Former sugarcane factory (Nerja, Spain).

Idea 4: Nature nearby

Nature is always open. And the same old lunch walk around the block is – even now – not your only option. Cycle, drive or take a bus for 15 minutes to find a new bit of nature to explore, or spend a night in a natural area a little further out. We’re finding even a half an hour in a new or less familiar area is a massively different experience from the walk around the block. And we’re still finding new areas to explore less than 20 minutes from our home. You probably will too!

Idea 5: Plan your holidays now & be flexible with where to go

Must-see Andalusia 1: Benalmádena Cablecar & Calamorro Viewpoint

One of our biggest struggles was not being able to plan any holiday abroad with certainty of it going through. The usual anticipation that helps in setting goals and dates to look forward to, was just not there. Recently, we made the decision to just pick out a few dates for 2022, and tell each other that no matter what, we’ll be able to do sómething. This might not be the same as usual, but it can at least give certainty as to when your next holiday will be. Worst case, you’ll still be able to make use of ideas 1 through 4.

We hope these five ideas help you beat the worst of the January Blues, make good use of them and share the love with others that can use a little inspiration. What other tips do you have for fun things to do during the pandemic?

Kirsten & Thomas

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