Since the very onset of our road trip it has felt like we have been chasing Corona. Uncannily, our next destination has always been to a place designated with soaring virus numbers. When we first left New York City in July we were headed to South Carolina, which was listed as a hot spot at the time. In fact, New Yorkers who were coming from the state had to self-quarantine for two weeks. Since then, we have continuously chased the virus as we entered New Mexico, Texas, California and Oregon; all states boasting highest cases at one point or another but always when we were there. At first, it was a disconcerting reality to constantly face massive Covid warnings as we pulled up our car to park ourselves in the latest state to be ridden by the outbreak. Slowly, after finding ourselves at the epicenter of the disease repeatedly, we learned to adjust our thoughts and behaviors to ease our fears while practicing safe measures. The alternative would have been staying in a city dealing with its own Covid crisis, laden with crime, homelessness and restrictions all while being cooped up in an apartment. When the pandemic erupted, I initially believed whole heartedly that the world was going to change for the best; that a spiritual reawakening was inevitable. Quickly I learned the opposite was happening and that the shape the world was taking was scaring me more than the virus itself. If the end of the world was nearing, I thought, let's get the hell out of our norm and live our lives as fully as possible under the circumstances because nothing has taught me how fragile life is more than this virus.
Many people have been writing me asking how my family keeps safe while we have been traveling and exploring the USA for months on end. I hope the tips and feedback I'm about to share will be helpful as I would love more than anything to inspire as many people as possible to get out of their mental and physical lockdowns while exploring the country safely and responsibly.
Yes, obviously you need accessible cash to embark on a massive road trip journey. For those who have the cash, but have chosen to sit on it and save up for a rainy day in light of how the virus has severely impacted the economy, I get it. This is a legitimate concern. Yet, in my mind, when I faced the realization that "the end of the world" was nearing, saving money was the smallest battle that I was occupied with. Saving for what? When you are convinced that the only reality is the present, the right here/right now, there is no need to think ahead into a place in time that does not exist. I realize this unconventional thinking process may seem irresponsible to some, but it was the way that I was able to release my grasp of financial concerns when making this decision. If I was convinced that saving for the future was crucial, I would have totally lost out on this whole experience.
When we decided to hit the road, oh boy was I fearful of contracting the virus. We initially planned to make an overnight stop in Virginia to ease the long drive as we drove to South Carolina for our first road trip stop. As the virus numbers kept rising we decided to drive directly to Hilton Head fearful that we would get sick staying at a hotel room that may expose us to the virus. When we arrived to Hilton Head I wiped down every door knob, kitchen cabinet handle, toilet flusher, light switch- anything we would make contact with, I wiped. This practice carried on over our next several destinations and slowly the fear waned along with the motivation to clorox wipe entire homes each time we were moving. Doing so initially did however ease my mind and worries and it was the only way I could convince myself that we were safe to stay at our lodging choice. If you share the same concerns I had, just stock up on wipes and wipe the heck out of everything!
It's been almost five months on the road. One of the most important practices that we have implemented, besides always wearing a mask, is staying away from large clusters of people or tight quarters. Besides a handful of friends that we have seen along the way, outdoors and socially distanced, it has only been our family together at all times. In order for us to enjoy these wonderful travels, we just cannot risk socializing with others and trusting that they too surround themselves with people who are equally concerned about the virus. If you want to travel safely, limit your interactions with others. We just can't have it all.
In my point of view, wearing your mask is the easiest measure you can take to protect yourself and others. I get it, they are uncomfortable, unattractive, and who wants to be told what to do? I am a Leo, I hate being told what to do. Yet, this is one simple thing we can all do to stay safe and keep others safe too. Please, just wear your mask.
Dining out was also a very real fear at the onset of Covid. It was a long while before we felt comfortable to go to a restaurant and interact with the waiter and cooking crew that handled our food. Our rule has been to only dine outdoors and to sanitize everything that has been handled. We wipe the table, the menus, the silverware, the plates, the glasses. We wipe everything. After the first few minutes of obsessively sanitizing everything that has been touched, we have learned to kick back, relax and enjoy wonderful meals throughout our state hopping. Now that we are in cold, wintery climates a new challenge is surfacing - will we feel safe eating indoors when outdoor seating is no longer an option due to cold temperatures? In the next few weeks there will be times when we will be staying in hotels and cooking won't be an option. Can we try to eat indoors comfortably or will we resort to room service/take out only? My thinking is, we will go to the restaurants we have on our itinerary. If they seem too crowded and we are uncomfortable in any way, we will just give up our table and order the food to go. We need to use sound judgement. No great meal in the world is worth us ending this journey because one of us gets sick due to unsafe practices. Just use common sense.
Another crucial component woven into our travels is spreading the love with others. It is a habitual practice in my life to make donations on a regular basis. If you are lucky enough to be healthy during this time, dine out, shop or travel while so many are suffering from financial and health burdens, make a donation to a cause that means something to you. Or volunteer your time. Just. Give. Back. Put a reminder in your calendar two-three times a month to support a person in need or an organization you value. Whether it is $20, $200, or $2,000 doesn't matter. What matters most is that you realize that if you are blessed in any way, return the favor and bless others too.
Mother Nature has been our savior during Covid. No matter where we are, and how high the virus numbers are in our given location, we have always found a nook in nature where we felt safe and even isolated enough to explore it mask-free. Malls, movie theaters, entertainment centers etc... are not things we miss at all. There is absolutely zero nostalgia for these indoor activities when we have been immersed in the most incredible landscapes that nature can offer. My biggest advice, wherever you may be, is to get in your car and drive (even for just a couple hours) and head to the nearest beach, mountain or desert and spend the day there. There have been very few sites in the wilderness that have drawn crowds. Mostly we have had epic trails all to ourselves.
The media has done a great job of planting the fear of God in all of us. I hope that our family's adventures during these crazy days of Covid-19 will inspire you to break out of those debilitating imposed fears and that you can find ways to enjoy your lives. Chasing Corona has been quite the escapade. I hope that we continue to only ride its coattails and never meet the virus directly. That being said, I refuse to be locked down, mentally, physically, or financially, by a virus that we can mostly avoid if we all practice safe measures. Please, don't be scared. Just be smart, masked and well-armed to enjoy your life as much as possible until this insanity comes to an end.