Traveling to beautiful places and exploring nature is a dream for many of us. It seems to always be in the back of our mind. “Someday I’m going to travel the world”, you might say to yourself. But life happens and time seems to slip away. The “someday” we dream of remains perpetually out of reach. Our coveted vacations turn into staycations and we wonder if we’ll ever go anywhere.
Now, with COVID-19 lingering longer than any of us first thought possible, getting away from home is even more difficult. It can be downright scary. Coping with burnout and stress associated with living through a pandemic is exhausting. It can take a toll on our mental health. With that being said, I think it’s absolutely imperative for us to spend time outdoors for our own well-being. But, how can we do it safely? How can we soothe our anxiety? The answer may lie close to home.
Those of us who love the outdoors and seek adventure through travel often neglect the places in our own backyard. I confess we are guilty of that. Maybe it’s a “been there, done that” attitude that causes the lack of enthusiasm. We call West Central Florida home. It’s a beautiful area where thousands of travelers come each year to enjoy the warm sun and white sand beaches of the gulf coast. There are numerous places to get outside and enjoy nature. Now that we’re starting to feel the doldrums from being home after our long summer travels, maybe it’s time to take another look and rediscover some of the wonderful places we once enjoyed in our youth.
A few years ago, a local television station did a weekly feature highlighting nearby destinations. It was called One Tank Trips. The idea was to showcase a place or an unusual attraction that you could drive to with only one tank full of gasoline. The feature became very popular and the accumulation was published in a book. The book is still available on Amazon at this time.
I have a copy of One Tank Trips. I’ve had it for years. It’s outdated now, but it still serves as an inspiration for finding the unusual and lesser known places. With the advent of the internet and social media it’s easier than ever to find places to visit. However, the off the beaten path places are still a little harder to find.
Over the next few weeks we hope to find some of those out-of-the-way places. A one tank trip, if I may borrow the phrase, to places where we can see nature and experience a change of scenery. We will use what we’ve learned while traveling in our camper this past summer to do it safely.
As I write this, sadly COVID-19 cases are spiking once again. There are reports that more lock downs and travel restrictions may be on the way. It’s important to follow the recommendations given for the state where you live. We do not advocate breaking the law. But where it’s allowed, we strongly feel it’s vital to get outdoors. We believe by taking recommended
precautions we can spend time out in nature safely and with little risk. In fact, our experience has led us to come up with Ten Safety Tips for Getting Outdoors During COVID-19.
1. Find locale destinations — It’s not necessary to venture miles from home. Day trips in your own vehicle are a great way to get away while avoiding public transportation and overnight stays in hotels.
2. Follow CDC guidelines — Hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a cloth face covering are essential habits we’ve become accustom to while traveling and being outdoors. We recommend you read and become familiar with the CDC guidelines found on their website at www.cdc.gov
3. Choose a safe activity — Find an activity you enjoy such as hiking, biking, jogging, kayaking, picnicking, photography or any of a hundred different things that can be done alone or in the company of someone who lives in your household such as a spouse, parent or child.
4. Plan your adventure during the week — If possible, avoid the weekend crowds by planning your excursion on a weekday when crowds are light. If you have to go on the weekend, take extra care to avoid close contact.
5. Go early — If you’re looking to have a popular place all to yourself, then getting up before the sun is your best chance. I know it’s a pain to drag yourself out of bed in the wee hours of the morning but that’s exactly why nobody else will be there when you arrive.
6. Go a little further — Many times driving a little further down that remote road or taking the longer hike will likely get you to a more isolated spot.
7. Yield and give plenty of space — When you cross paths with someone on a trail step off and give them plenty of room to pass.
8. Avoid high population areas — Get away from the city. Find places that are off the beaten path. We like going to national, state, and local parks. Also don’t overlook state and national forest areas too. The more remote the better.
9. Pack a lunch — Avoid having to eat out by taking your own food and water with you. If it’s going to be a long day, consider packing two meals. Have plenty of snacks and water to drink.
10. Bring your own toilet — I know what you’re thinking. “Is he nuts? He can’t be serious!” But I am. Understandably, the prospect of using a public restroom during this COVID-19 pandemic is a no-go for many people. Frankly, we saw that many public restrooms were closed anyway. It’s probably the biggest concern and the least talked about for a lot of people. Certainly you can take care of business before leaving the house, but as we all know, the call of nature can come anytime. Having a portable toilet that can be carried in the car can help alleviate any fears while away from home. There are a variety of different portable toilets on the market. Here is a link to a well rated option on Amazon. One tip that we learned is to put some kitty litter in the bottom of the bag before using.
If, like us, you feel it is essential to get outside and spent time in nature then we hope you will find these tips helpful. Also, if you have any ideas to add or places to share then leave a comment. I will be writing about our outings in the near future.
So until next time…happy days and safe travels.