My Experience Traveling During The Pandemic
I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought I was going crazy. Five months went by of nonstop working from home. I only left my tiny one-bedroom apartment for walks around the block or a grocery store trip. Previously, I jetted off to a new destination every few months. Now, six months went by since my last trip. I was ready for some traveling during the pandemic
I know, I know. This is such an inconsequential issue compared to what a lot of other people have gone through this last year. You are right. I had difficulties certainly worse than not traveling. This includes, I might add, catching the dreaded virus, which I still, months later, have lingering effects from. But, travel is a big part of my life. I would imagine it is for you too since you are here on my blog. Therefore, that is what this post is about.
At the beginning of 2020, I had two trips booked to the beautiful countries of Thailand and Belize. I nearly cried the day I had to call the airlines to cancel. Both of these countries were, and still are, at the top of my bucket list. I dealt with the loss for a while. I didn’t have much of a choice as the world was on actual lockdown and the COVID case numbers were extremely high in my country. Therefore traveling during the pandemic was not possible just yet.
August 2020: The Plan
But now we were in August and the world was opening back up again. Travel restrictions were lifting and the numbers were way down. Having some time off work, I decided it was time to go. I played it safe and did exactly what my country’s national guidelines directed me to do. My destination was “low risk” and I returned with enough time to get tested before I returned to my job (as was required of me).
I made arrangements to rent a car at my destination, so I could drive rather than rely on public transport. Rather than my preferred (more budget-friendly) option of staying in shared accommodation, I chose to stay in hotels by myself. Additionally, I decided to only include outdoor activities in my itinerary and rely on groceries, rather than restaurants, for food. (As a side note, I pretty much became an expert at preparing full meals using only a microwave during this trip and I feel like I’m going to need to write a post on that in the future!) Lastly, and most importantly, I made sure to have plenty of masks with me. I ensured I wore them whenever I was in a public space or could not social distance while out in nature. Here are some tips I wrote on how to travel during COVID-19 if you’re interested!
August 2020: The Execution
So I had the plan, now it was time to execute it. Unfortunately, the plane ride there was not pleasant. It was extremely crowded and I did not feel as though social distancing was made a priority. I will admit it made me nervous for the rest of my trip traveling during the pandemic. However, once I was out of the airport and in my rental car I felt much more relaxed. The majority of my waking hours were spent hiking or driving through many of the beautiful national parks of the United States. With the exception of one of the more popular parks, there was not much crowding. I was able to keep my distance from everyone.
When I was out hiking or taking pictures at a lookout point I can honestly say that I forgot about COVID. The two weeks I spent driving through the northwestern United States were the most “normal” feeling days I had experienced in a long time. The return to the hotels after my long days was, of course, my reminder that we were, in fact, still in a pandemic. Restaurants and bars were closed, no one hung out in the lobbies, and there were signs about masks and social distancing everywhere. Even the rooms themselves had signs everywhere stating that the area had been “sanitized for my safety.” (Read more about some of the companies I traveled with during this trip here.)
I absolutely appreciated the effort, obviously, but it was certainly different. Especially for someone who travels alone often but is so used to being surrounded by like-minded individuals in the common areas of a hostel. I enjoyed the solitude though, and I realized it was a much-needed break from the craziness that had, unfortunately, become everyone’s reality in the year 2020.
Traveling During the Pandemic: The Verdict
I headed back home feeling refreshed and renewed. This time, the plane was essentially empty and social distancing was not only encouraged, but enforced. I very much appreciated the company’s effort. After this experience, I came to the conclusion that traveling during the pandemic is possible, as long as it is done cautiously. This winter, unfortunately, has brought a spike in numbers, so it may not be the best time now. However, it is never too early to start planning for a trip this spring or summer! If this is something that interests you but you don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to help!