10 socially distant activities to satisfy your travel bug

10 Socially Distant Activities to satisfy your travel bug

As we all know we are going on 8 months of being in global pandemic and while the stay at home orders seem to be different in every county across the US, in addition to changing every week, travel has mostly stayed the same. By “the same” I mean, absolutely dead. It is still widely advised not to travel without necessity and the majority of the world is still off-limits to American citizens until we can learn to play nicely with others (aka wearing a mask, social distancing, and STAYING AT HOME.)

Naturally we are all feeling a little homesick for travel-or maybe travelsick? Is that a word? I’m not sure, but the point is if you in anyway consider yourself a traveler you are for sure missing the feeling of getting out of the normal and exploring a new place. Even if you aren’t a “traveler” we are all pretty sick of this “new normal.” Today I’m going to give you at least 10 things you can do to make you feel a little more “normal” and hopefully give that same feeling you get when traveling.

Hiking/Walking

The point is get outside and I don’t just mean to walk around the same old park or block or trail you normally do. Get a change in scenery!! Do you live in a big city? Try driving out to the wilderness for a while and going on a short hike, or even just walking around a bit. Or vice versa, if you live in the country try visiting a city close to you and just wandering the downtown streets (with a mask and social distancing of course.)

adult adventure beautiful climb
Photo by Nina Uhlíková on Pexels.com

Whatever type of travel you are normally drawn to, be it outdoors, city life, or beach towns try to find something similar close to you and go explore it for a while. Your body will thank you for the physical activity and you might just trick your mind into thinking you’re somewhere new.

Camping

If the outdoors is your thing then this “socially distant” trend is for YOU. There are so many different outdoor activities that are naturally socially distant such as hiking, mountain biking, surfing, camping, climbing etc etc. I could go on forever it seems like! Here we are talking specifically about camping, and even if you aren’t the outdoorsy type lucky for you this is the 21 century and we have options! I like to think of them in three different groups: 1) The almost-step-mom from The Parent Trap; 2) The I’ve peed in the woods before; 3) The bear grylls.

  • Group one enjoys the views of nature, the sound of the birds, the feel of the sun and the water buuuuut that’s about it. If you don’t have indoor plumbing it’s not for you, and that’s totally fine! For you I would recommend anywhere from a cabin with a view to a class A motorhome if you’re feeling adventurous.
  • Group two is a little more flexible, likely to add a nice hike or fishing to their day, but still isn’t quite ready to go 100% off grid. For you I would recommend either a nice camper van so you can enjoy a few modern amenities to a nice tent with an air mattress if you feel like having some real fun.
  • Group three is the guy who has worn the same pair of hiking shoes for the past 5 years and they’re falling apart, you keep telling him to get new ones but he’s always too busy hiking and says “plus these still work fine!” as they literally fall off his feet. For you a tent is considered a luxury so if you’re feeling like having some privacy you’d use one otherwise it’s just you, a hammock, and the stars.

Try a wildly new restaurant

Nothing says travel like eating a dish you can’t pronounce and can only recognize two ingredients in. For me one of my favorite parts of travel is getting to try new foods, it is a great way to experience and learn about other cultures! This one is pretty easy, just pick a country/area you are interested in visiting and then google search restaurants in your area that offer that style of food. And don’t tell me they won’t have any, if my tiny uncultured town of Maryville can have Egyption, German, and Middle Eastern restaurants then I’m sure you can find something where you live too.

front of egyption restaurant
King Tut Egyptian restaurant in south Knoxville

Please always be mindful and respectful when entering restaurants right now, if at all possible use pickup or to-go options. Choose outdoor seating when available and always social distance and wear your mask when not actively eating to protect these wonderful service workers.

If you’re feeling brave or restaurants aren’t open in your area yet then you can always look up recipes online and attempt to make them at home!

kayak/canoe/paddleboarding

This goes along with number two of just getting outside! The best part about this to me is the fact that there are so many different options! I love that this is something you can do with friends, and there are even tours you can go on in certain areas. You can make this as active or inactive as you want, choosing to float along a calm lake or river, or try your hand at some rapids. (do not attempt without proper training & equipment, do not attempt alone.)

man on surf board
Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com

Roadtripping

Ahhh the OG of social distance traveling. So technically this one is actually traveling, but there are a lot of options to keep you safe while doing so! The first option is to do local trips such as a scenic drive around your area, or a self guided sightseeing tour if you’re in a bigger city.

Another option, and my personal favorite, is to rent a van and do some longer distant and overnight roadtrips. As you might know I am about to begin my own van conversion, but there are plenty of already finished camper vans that are ready to be rented for the weekend! This option gives you the freedom to take a longer trip, while also ensuring you can safely and privately have accomodations no matter where you go. These vans come in many different models and floor plans and are perfect for a weekend trip if you aren’t ready to use hotels yet. With the added bonus of not putting miles on your own car! It is also perfect for anyone curious about van life, but not ready to commit yet.

Local tourist traps

Now I know not everyone lives in a tourist town, but the majority of my readers are from my hometown and boy do we have plenty of “touristy” things to do around here. This is one where you will have to be careful to maintain social distancing and check with your local regulations, but perfect for those wanting to feel like a tourist again. I would recommend outdoor activities if possible, such as a wine/vineyard/brewery tour, or the Gatlinburg Skylift; those little tourist attractions that you always see but never go to.

mountain roller coaster in gatlinburg
These mountain coasters are so popular around Gatlinburg with the tourists!

Virtual tours

So many places are offering virtual tours right now, some are even free! Here are a few that I have found and have personally enjoyed. As well as here is a link to a more extensive list.

Nature

Museums

Animals

City Biking

Sticking with our theme of a change in scenery and doing things you don’t normally do, we have city biking! If your city has self-guided tours then it’s an even better way of feeling like you’re on vacation in Paris or New York instead of Knoxville or Cleveland.

photography of girl riding bike beside man
Photo by Lgh_9 on Pexels.com

MUSEUMS

Many museums are now open again and taking precautions against COVID. Check with the museum in your area that you’re interested in to see how they are ensuring social distancing and protecting their patrons. Museums are a great way to reflect on the past, learn about a new culture, or be inspired by the creativity of someone’s mind. I am personally more attracted to science and history museums, but quite enjoy the Knoxville Museum of Art, which is completely free however reservations do have to be made online currently. I am also super interested in visiting the crime museum in Pigeon Forge, Alcatraz East, as well as a wax museum one day! Do a bit of searching and I’m sure you’ll find something near you that will pique your interest for the day and immerse you in another world!

Botanical gardens

For all my plant guys, gals, and nonbinary pals out there botanical gardens are the perfect way to get out of the house, without the temptation of buying a new plant 😉 A botanical garden is the perfect place for a picnic or an instagram photoshoot! Both of which are some of my favorite things to do while traveling of course. You again have the ability to learn more about different species of plants as well as just enjoying a change of pace and scenery, which if you can’t tell is the theme of this whole post.

Girl with red hair sitting on a blue metal bench
This was taken at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens

Tips for visiting indoor places

  • Always wear a mask
  • Avoid touching your face at all costs
  • Bring hand-sanitizer & wipes
  • Wipe down your phone/camera
  • Eat outside or get take out
  • Social distance (6ft is the minimum suggested, always do more if possible)
  • Avoid groups of 5 or more
  • Get tested and encourage those around you to get tested and have negative results before going out.

I hope this helped or at least inspired you to get creative on ways you can still feel like you’re traveling without having to risk it all. Share your ideas in the comments and let me know what you think, was this helpful? Would you be interested in another similar post?

cottages in the middle of beach
Photo by Julius Silver on Pexels.com

Bonus: Another way to satisfy your travel bug is to get started on planning your next trip! Since travel has been restricted for 8 months now just about everyone had to cancel or modify their 2020 vacations. In the travel industry we are seeing massive amounts of bookings for the 2021 season so expect the best places and dates to fill up fast! Working with a travel agent can help ensure you get the dates and places you want with the added security that if anything goes wrong (ya know like a global pandemic) or you need to cancel, you have someone in your corner to take care of that for you and ensure you’re appropriately compensated.

Click here to get started planning your next trip! I can’t WAIT to talk to you!

Until next time be safe and happy (not) travels,

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4 comments

  • We’ve been doing plenty of these this summer and it’s been a great way to experience our own area – something I usually don’t do because we’re overseas! Hiking has become a recent favourite!

  • Good suggestions! Being holed up in a house for 8 months is bad for anyone’s mental health, but luckily the outdoors is great for social distancing!

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