The times, they are a-changin’ and not only in Bob Dylan’s song. Right now, almost everything is unpredictable and constantly changing – and that goes even further while traveling.
We have been traveling full time since May 31st of last year and while we somewhat figured out our travel pattern, we also had to adjust for various closures, state mandates like ‘safer at home’, ‘shelter in place’ and the ever evolving quarantine mandates during the pandemic.
There is so much we don’t know about COVID-19 and the state of mistrust, worry, and misinformation is pretty rampant. From people worrying about their loved ones that have been effected by the virus, to the millions of people who lost their livelihoods due to closures, to the government trying to figure out what to do, often unsuccessfully; to policies that change not only state by state, but by county to county, even city to city within a state.
Making a sense of it all is not easy and traveling through it all is something we had to adjust to on the go.
My number one advice would be: go with the flow, try to remain positive even during ever changing circumstances and follow the local guidelines.
Even if we don’t always agree with all set policies, it doesn’t mean we take it out on people. They are doing their job and complaining, grumbling, or yelling at some poor employee about things they have very little to no control over would be silly, and making an already bad thing worse.
Yes, some policies we ran into during our travels are redundant and usually not helpful at all. That doesn’t mean we don’t follow them. People in restaurants, shops, stores, campgrounds, gas stations etc. are happy to have a job to go to. Everyone is on edge already so why make an already hard situation worse for someone who is just trying to keep afloat in this ever-worsening economy.
We try to support the local economy on the road, going to local diners, restaurants, bakeries, and cafes wherever we can and shopping at local groceries as much as possible. We don’t really shop a lot outside shopping for food or eating out, because we don’t have a lot of space in our Airstream trailer.
These have been our experiences traveling during pandemic:
In March, when sheltering started gaining traction around the country, we were in a Thousand Trails campground in Texas. Various things were already off limits – like the café and all indoor facilities at the campground. All their rentals were suspended. Face masks weren’t yet mandatory and no shelter in place was enacted.
We arrived in Florida two days after they shut down the access route to the Florida Keys, were we booked our next stay through Thousand Trails. We canceled and booked Thousand Trails at Crystal River campground, a location just above Tampa, Florida.
Getting to Florida was a little bit shaky – there was a mandatory check in point at the state line between Alabama and Florida. The news made it sound hundred times more intimidating than it was, so we were understandably nervous and apprehensive. We were asked at the border if we were traveling from or spending any time in New Orleans. We said no and they let us through with no problem.
We were ordered to shelter in place, and it wasn’t hard to do, since everything was already shut down by this point in Florida. Short of drive through McDonald’s and the local grocery store, everything was closed – even the local parks.
Thousand Trails facilities were closed, and all their rentals suspended. Wearing masks still wasn’t mandatory but encouraged.
After two weeks of sheltering in place in Crystal River, we headed down to Peace River, where we had made reservations a month prior to our arrival.
We got there about mid-morning and were promptly turned away. Their policy was not to admit any new campers, even with prior reservations. If you were there, great, if not, tough luck. No one from Thousand Trails contacted us about the cancellation, which really sucked.
There was, however, no point to argue about it at this point, so we turned around and got out of Florida.
We traveled through Georgia, South and North Carolina, staying and working in our Airstream mostly, or going for walks when the weather was nice.
We spend some time in North Carolina, which was slowly opening up. It was a huge relief to us and to people around us to see at least a small glimmer of hope for the local economy to be coming back to life.
After NC we traveled to Hershey, PA and then to Catskills, NY where everything started to look pretty good. Local restaurants and shops were opened for indoor dining and shopping, even under strict guidelines, which we of course always follow. Masks were mandatory in stores and while getting in and out of restaurants. We even stayed in a motel for a night. Everyone we ran into was extremely nice, friendly, and helpful.
Maine was a bit different – upon arrival to our campground where we were going to stay for a week, we were asked about our health and had to fill out a form stating that we were healthy, didn’t have any flu like symptoms: fever, cough, or experienced loss of taste or smell, which are all attributed to COVID19. We signed that we were healthy and that we would adhere to the local distancing rules.
In our campground, we had to sign up for specific times to use the pool or the laundry. For laundry, only one person at the time was allowed inside the laundry facility. At the pool, maximum of 15 people were allowed in the pool area with strict distancing rules.
We wore masks every time we went shopping or eating out and couldn’t bring reusable bags to grocery stores, which definitely bums me out. The amount of plastic that has been used and not reused during this pandemic is truly staggering. I understand that most places go by the rule ‘better safe than sorry’, but still…I hate to see all the plastic being churned out into the world.
As of right now, we are still happy and healthy. We ate out in the restaurants, pubs and cafes. We went through many, many drive-throughs (mainly McDonald’s when we travel). We shopped at many Walmart stores and local grocery stores. We even went to a local farmer’s market in Pennsylvania.
We don’t socialize with others much and don’t go out of our way to be part of a crowd, but we do normal stuff out in the ‘real world’ as much as possible.
I would say play it by the ear. If you can stay out of COVID19 hot zones, stay out. If you are already somewhere that is deemed a hot spot, try to stay safe. Wear a mask. Wear gloves.
But don’t get stuck inside. Take a walk, go out into nature, your local neighborhood park, anywhere where you can find a piece of calm and serenity for yourself. Take a deep breath of fresh air.
You don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to spend quality time alone or with your family. Rediscover your local area, your city, your state. Every state has something special and interesting to offer.
I wish you safe and peaceful travels