5 travel-free adventures to plan this summer

From jobs to routines, we have all experienced losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s one thing every one of us is grieving together: the feeling of freedom.

For many Canadians, summer is synonymous with travel — a great expression of freedom — and, while we likely won’t be crossing any borders this season, we can (and should!) safely embrace our sense of adventure in the coming weeks and months. Here are five ideas to consider:

1. Hit the road

If you have a vehicle, there’s a good chance you’ve only used it to drive to and from the grocery store or pharmacy in recent months. And for good reason! But while travel restrictions are in place and gas is still inexpensive, a local road trip complete with snacks, a good playlist and no deadline may provide the change of scenery you’ve been craving. Choose a destination with treelined roads, a quaint town you haven’t seen in a while or some beautiful lookout points — or set out without any destination at all. Just remember to continue practicing physical distancing at all times. That means refraining from getting out of the car if others are present at designated roadside stops, avoiding public restrooms and staying at least two metres away from people if you need to stop for gas.

2. Play tourist in your own town

If you’ve taken the same walk around your block what feels like a thousand times since COVID-19 orders were put in place, consider choosing a different starting point. It might take a little experimenting with times and locations to find a place in your town or neighbourhood that is empty enough to facilitate proper physical distancing, but discovering or re-discovering a local landmark, green space, ravine, trail or residential community can provide a sense of wonder and excitement that many of us are lacking these days. Pack a blanket, a picnic, an outdoor speaker and some good reading material for a more special experience.

3. Camp out

A guaranteed homerun for children: dust off any old camping gear you have and set it up in the backyard for an afternoon, or better yet for an overnight adventure. Remember that kids don’t care if they’re at a highly-rated campsite; the outdoors and the change in surroundings is enough to ignite their curiosity. Look for bugs in the grass, sing campfire songs, listen to the birds and eat oven-toasted s’mores for dessert. Note: this is equally fun for grownups.

4. Take a spin

Take an outdoor bike ride for a literal change of pace and practice mindfulness as you feel the wind on your face. Particularly if cycling isn’t a regular activity for you, take this opportunity to revel in the childlike joy it can evoke. Remember to wear a homemade mask while cycling to protect others from your droplets, and keep a distance greater than two metres from people biking on the same path (some studies show that droplets can linger further than two meters when people are active on the same pathway).

5. Plan an epic post-pandemic trip

Previous generations often perused travel books and destination brochures for months before calling a travel agent to book a trip. Today it’s become commonplace (pre-pandemic, at least) to book a last-minute flight or vacation with little planning or thought. If you’re longing to cross an ocean or board a plane (and who isn’t?), try using this mandated travel hiatus to dust off a world map and start dreaming about a future adventure. Wanderlust can be an art form! There are endless online resources available to learn about the world and the various experiences that we will be able to enjoy in the future. So regardless of when that epic trip will become reality, there’s no time like the present to start planning for it. In fact, studies show that looking forward to travel is actually one of the most gratifying aspects of it.