The Long Road Ahead: Traveling Solo

Covering Some Distance

After months on end of nearly total isolation (apart from one very noble, loyal, but severely dog-parked deprived canine), I feel like heading out into the countryside—complete with its vast open areas, sunny vistas, and ample amounts of fresh air—might be exactly what the epidemiologist has ordered.

As states across the country begin to lift their shelter-in-place restrictions, jumping into a car and making for the far horizon at first seemed to me like the only course of action that could possibly relieve my mounting anxiety and tension—festering within me during the last few months of lonely isolation. However, I’m also supremely aware of the risks of contracting the virus—I have family and friends who are severely immuno-compromised. I know what I would feel like if one of them were to fall ill, and I certainly don’t want to be the cause of the heartbreak for anyone else. As such, I’ve been planning a solo trip that should accomplish the double duty of distancing me even further away from the center of a densely populated city, while also landing me into the wide-open, sunny spaces that research has shown to be detrimental to the virus’ lifespan. I also have some strategies in place to mitigate my risk, and to keep me from coming into any extended contact with others who might not be as willing to play it as safely as I know is necessary.

Flying Solo

The first and most obvious safety measure I’m going to take is simply to cut down on the travel numbers, and even going so far as to adapt the co-pilot position—traditionally assumed by my long-standing best friend for nigh on five years now—and instead fill it with the aforementioned loyal canine companion. It’s true that he can’t (ostensibly) take the wheel and offer some driving relief, but the safety afforded by traveling solo in this pandemic-ridden climate can’t be overstated. As the research proves more and more every day, the single most frightening, insidious aspect of the virus is its ability to make itself quite cozy inside of someone—as it readies itself in the wings to pounce on the immuno-compromised—while leaving the carrier themselves almost entirely asymptomatic. This lack of symptoms,  in as many as 80 percent of those with confirmed cases in some tested populations, has in all likelihood influenced” the many” to measure their personal happiness and desires against the needs of the few—and to come out on top. As I travel, I know that I’ll see numerous other travelers walking about in tightly-grouped factions; I’ll even notice that some have forgone masks and other safety precautions altogether in order to regain their sense of normalcy. As nice as it would be to believe this, the numbers themselves just don’t add up to that conclusion. 

Stop Less—Stock More

In order to limit the amount of human contact, I’m planning when and where I stop well before I head-out. I’m mapping out smaller towns to stop in, just so that I won’t run the risk of bumping into unknowns. I’m also well-stocked on food, water, and snacks, and—of course—plenty of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer to thoroughly take care of surfaces before I re-enter my car. I’ve also made sure to stock an assortment of basic car essentials. Today’s world has me feeling a bit out of control, but the peace of mind afforded from properly preparing my vehicle in the event of an emergency is worth all the time it takes to prepare.

Be an Example

I don’t like wearing a mask. I don’t think anyone does. But as long as doctors and nurses are putting in triple and quadruple shifts—all while wearing masks, and hoping that they’ll continually have that resource available to them while they work, I know I’m not the one to complain. I’ll wear a mask, and I’ll wash my hands.

When to Hire a Co-PilotUnfortunately, weeks on end without spending time with a single human soul has left a substantial toll on my psyche. Although it’s left me on edge—and ready to leap into the arms of my friends in a heartbeat as soon as this is all over—it hasn’t negatively affected me unduly. For some, especially for those struggling to recover from substance abuse, these months have been monotonous at best, and downright torturous at worst. If any are struggling with this situation, I think traveling with a close companion—one who is specifically not suffering from addiction issues—is far and away, the best option. Those who are recovering from substance abuse need structure, even while they’re exploring. Just make sure to isolate yourself after you and your trusted companion return.

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