How COVID-19 Has Given Traveling a New Meaning

Having become fascinated with hiking, Bailie Kole, 22, a student at Kennesaw State University, has been visiting State Parks in North Georgia, starting in places such as Rope Mill in Woodstock, Georgia, to developing a love of Cloudland Canyon in Rising Fawn, Georgia. 

“I love hiking so much,” Kole said. “I always thought it was something I wouldn’t be good at, but now that I have gotten into it, I can’t stop.”

Kole is not the only person visiting state and national parks. Former teachers of hers, Bonnie, 45, and Grant Sinclair, 45, from Woodstock, GA, have built a career on their adventures. The couple started their travel blog, Wanderfilledlife, back in 2016, but COVID-19 made their traveling look a little different than what it used to be

“Honestly, this past summer we didn’t see much impeding,” Grant said. “From what I understand there are some places, for example, I was just researching New Orleans, and if you want to get into a bar or restaurant you have to show your vaccination card.”

“And we see a lot of places maybe requiring advanced reservations that didn’t used to, or limited hours or limited number of people,” Bonnie said. “But I would say a lot more things are open or available at least for the moment.”

Health and safety are the number one priority for people like Kole and the Sinclair’s right now but taking the time to try something new like traveling is a great way to socially distance from everyone. The popularity of escaping home-life has risen, and state parks have been filled with newcomers and regulars who are finding different ways to travel and be remote. 

Brad Bennett, the Superintendent of the Chickamauga, and Chattanooga National Military Park, released a statement on September 24, 2020, about the increase in openings his park is having for visitors.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount,” said Bennett. “At Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored.” 

With state parks guiding safe opportunities for people who are looking to get away from being inside, travel and hiking, as well as RV travel, have become a fad for younger generations looking for a safe way to be adventurous.

The Sinclair’s take their RV with them all over the country, and they noticed there was not much of a change when packing up and leaving their home. This has been a motivator to those that read their blog. 

“The only thing that has been a little tough is grabbing food because not every place is open like before, but besides that not much else has changed with our packing,” Bonnie said.

No matter how well-versed a person might be in RV travel, camping, or even hiking, there are a plethora of ways to get out and stay safe during the pandemic.

Another former student who keeps up with the Sinclair’s travel experience and has started getting out on her own is Valerie Gonzalez, 22. Gonzalez has found the outdoors to be her haven especially during the pandemic. 

Travel, hiking, camping, RV travel, and all other means of adventure have become a lifestyle for many people. Travel bloggers like the Sinclair’s have inspired people, like the former students Kole and Gonzalez, to never stop seeking adventure, and to never let an obstacle such as COVID-19 discourage them from pursuing that adventure.

As everything is starting to open back up and life is starting to become more normal again, I still see hiking as my escape,” Kole said. “As busy as I am, it’s nice to be able to go out and do what I want to do and see what I want to see on my own terms. I think even with everything going back to normal, I still turn to hiking as a way to relax and do something for myself.”

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