YOLO: How To Travel During The Coronavirus Pandemic


Seriously, please just don’t.

The other day I read a headline that I just couldn’t get out of my mind—“Young people capitalize on cheap coronavirus flights: ‘If I die, I die.’”

It’s true that most young people stand a very good chance of surviving COVID-19; the overall mortality rate is 3.4% according to World Health Organization (WHO, as of 03 March 2020).

So, you probably won’t die. Hooray! But flinging yourself out into this wide, beautiful world right now is still a considerable risk. While it’s difficult to determine what percentage of coronavirus patients have no symptoms, studies are suggesting that these individuals may play a major role in spreading the disease, says CDC advisor Dr. William Schaffner.

Even if you’re ultimately not asymptomatic, the WHO says that it may take 2-10 days for you to develop that telltale fever. In the meantime, you’ll be a walking germ yourself, possibly infecting many people in your wake, including the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. You might not suffer too badly, but they might. Outbreaks around the world are consistently hitting these two groups the hardest. This isn’t the time to fulfill your wildest dreams, this is a time to be considerate of others.

However! There’s space for something other than doom and gloom here. This is a marvelous—truly marvelous—time to plan and cultivate your dreams. (And you just might be able to scratch a bit of that travel itch as well, depending on your location.) Read on for some advice on making the best of a thorny situation.


Do some virtual travel

If you’ve never checked out the website Atlas Obscura, now’s the time to jump into that deep, deep rabbit hole. It’s a travel guide with a twist, pointing out all of the wonderfully weird sights that your average booklet will pass by. When Milan is accessible again, be sure to check out the fresco of the devil baby Jesus in the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio and the gigantic “F you” situated directly in front of Italy’s stock exchange headquarters. Take notes, plan routes, draw all over every map you own.

Fly over such scenic locales as Scotland and Lithuania via drone in YouTube videos for hours on end. Channels such as 4K Relaxation Channel also offer strolls through forests for those who prefer to stay on their feet. Maybe you’ll spot your next must-visit destination at 36:17!

Another video option is the “dashcam Europe to Australia overland” genre. You can virtually hop into a stranger’s car and experience their journey at high speed. Watch the countries fly by.

If you’re craving something more interactive, there are lots of Google Map games that you can try out. GeoGuessr is one of the most popular, teleporting you to a random spot on the globe, then allowing you to explore and guess where you are. Much harder to play this in real life, unless you have a friend who’s willing to keep you blindfolded all the way to Jakarta! And again, you might stumble upon an unknown nook so enticing that you add it to your real-world bucket list.


But if you must get out there…

Please remember that there’s little in life that you “must” do. That said:

Play it smart. Travel in isolation to an isolated location. Heading to a nearby forest might not feel exciting if you’ve just canceled your trip to South Korea, but you can mix it up by digging out your bike or old Razor scooter for the trek, instead of hopping on a bus. Why not? Part of the fun will simply come in doing something differently than you normally would.

Once you’ve reached your forest, here’s an exercise for you to try. Shut off your phone and take in the trees—it might be the first time in weeks that you haven’t had virus updates blaring at you. Take a few minutes or hours to practice forest-bathing. Open your senses to the scenery around you, from the sound of crinkling branches to the herbal scent of mud to the cool feeling of mist on your skin. And remember that social distancing doesn’t prevent you from hugging a tree.

You can also check out a beach or lakeside, especially on a rainy, blustery day when fewer people are out. Bundle up strategically, and the weather will fade into the background (at least a bit). Do some research to find out whether your local beach has any sea glass hotspots—there are many colors to be found, depending on past industrial activity, and you can start amassing your own personal rainbow. In addition, any waterfront can be an ideal location to test out a metal detector.

In short, you don’t need to lose your mind, nor risk anyone’s health while breathing in a crowd. There are numerous options out there to help you get your travel fix; they just require some flexibility and imagination. And when the world settles back down again, you can pull out all of the plans you’ve made and get back to getting out there.

And however you decide to spend your unprecedented time of isolation…

Don’t forget to wash your hands.


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